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How To Cut Hardwood Floors Near A Wall

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Are you installing new hardwood floors? Maybe you’re doing some repairs and can’t figure out how to get the floors out against the wall? We know cutting the hardwood floor near or right up to a wall can be tricky. In this post, we’ll show you all the different tools you can use to make this project easier! 

To cut hardwood floor near a wall, follow these steps:

  • Clean all debris from the area
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves
  • Use a toe-kick saw to cut right at the wall (maximum 3/4 inch depth)
  • Use an oscillating saw to cut the corners

Although it can seem like an impossible task, cutting the hardwood floor right next to the wall is much easier than it seems. There are tools that have been designed for that task, and we’ll go over them in this post. You’ll be able to finish your project with ease and peace of mind!

Man installing wood flooring in home, How To Cut Hardwood Floors Near A Wall

How to Cut Hardwood Near Walls

Safety First

Always, always, always wear safety glasses or a safety mask when using power tools! Wear comfortable, close-fitting gloves and clothing to keep your arms, legs, and torso protected. Stray wood chips and metal fragments can shoot up unexpectedly from a power tool.

Keep your work area clean

Be sure that the area is completely clear of debris before starting; a clean work area is a safe work area. Keep the area clean while you work, and remove all loose pieces away from the blade.

Now, choose your tools. There are several options for cutting hardwood near walls; we’ll go over all the options now.

What saw to use to cut close to the wall?

There are so many different options and ways to cut hardwood near the wall! Afterward, you’ll be able to decide which tool you want to use. We’ve provided the best options here, along with the pros and cons of each one.

Toe-Kick Saw

Technically, a toe-kick saw was designed for cutting under the toe-kick of cabinets, hence the name. But it’s so safe and easy to use that many people prefer it for the entire project. It cuts almost entirely flush to the wall and is pre-set to cut only 3/4 inch deep, a typical depth for most hardwood floors.

A toe-kick saw can range from less than $100 to over $300. The blades can be found online.

A basic toe-kick saw, easy to use and inexpensive. See it on Amazon here.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Cuts flush to the wall, including under cabinet ledges
  • Simple and safe for beginners
Disadvantages
  • Specialized for one type of use
  • It only cuts 3/4 inch deep
  • Can not cut into corners

Multi-Tool/Oscillating Saw

A multi-tool, or oscillating saw, will do the same job as a toe-kick saw. It is used free-hand, so it’s a bit more challenging to wield and doesn’t guard you against going beyond the 3/4 inch depth of most hardwood floors. 

The  big bonuses about using this tool, instead of - or along with - the toe-kick saw, are:

  1. You can change the type of blade. This enables you to cut into the corners, as well as flush along the wall.
  2. The blade cuts up to 1.5 inches deep, allowing you to cut through thicker wood if needed.

A multi-tool, priced anywhere from $100 to $300, is one of the most popular hand-held power tools due to its multi-adaptability.

See this popular one on Amazon.

Advantages
  • It cuts right at the wall
  • Multiple accessories for different applications
  • It can be used to cut into corners using a different blade
  • You can cut wood deeper than 3/4 inches
Disadvantages
  • The free-hand operation may be harder for first-time users
  • Does not have an adjustable depth guard

Multi-tool replacement blades for flush-cutting along walls. See them on Amazon.

Jamb Saw

Another tool that can be used for cutting hardwood near a wall is the Jamb-saw. It was designed to eliminate removing or damaging the bottom of door jambs. However, it’s such a simple, hand-held tool that it’s become quite popular to vertically cut hardwood floors near a wall.

This type of saw is about $160 - $240. The replacement blades are more expensive but easy to find online.

This Jamb-saw is powerful enough for professionals. See it on Amazon.

Advantages
  • Designed for horizontal door-jamb cuts but can be used vertically
  • Powerful enough for professionals
  • It cuts very closely to the wall
  • Safe to use for beginners
  • Includes depth guard
Disadvantages
  • Replacement blades are expensive

Reciprocating Saw

Probably the least expensive option you can find is the Reciprocating Saw, commonly known as the ‘Sawzall.’ This saw is hand-held, like the oscillating saw, and it’s used a bit like a traditional saw, only it’s motor-powered.

This saw is usually easy to rent at a hardware store, making it economical for a DIY’er to use for a single project. All you have to do is purchase new blades. The blades are usually sold several in a pack, for $10 to $20. The downside is it will not cut as close to the wall as a toe-kick saw or an oscillating saw. 

A ‘Sawzall’ or Reciprocating Saw. Prices range from $60 to $150. See one on Amazon.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive, and can usually be rented
  • Easy to use
  • Replacement blades are economical
Disadvantages
  • Does not cut flush to the wall
  • No depth guard
  • Harder to use for beginners

Blades for the reciprocating saw are easy to find and economical. See them on Amazon.

How close can you saw cut to a wall?

Cyan colored cork underlayment for the wooden flooring, Does A Hardwood Floor Need Underlayment Or Subfloor?

As you can see, with modern tools, cutting close to the wall is easier than ever. But if you’re concerned about problems you may encounter by cutting close to your foundation, you will need to do some investigation.

Investigate

Remove a tiny portion of the hardwood next to the wall. If your wall is attached to a separate frame, and there is a subfloor under the hardwood you cut, you shouldn’t have any problems continuing your project.

If your home is very old, you see no frame, or there is no subfloor, the project may need more consideration.  Your hardwood may be integrated into the frame of the house, or your hardwood may actually be the subfloor. If you are not sure, consult a professional before you go any further.

Cutting the floor

Once you’ve decided which saw to use, you need to make your cuts. Here are some tips to remember.

  • Try to avoid nails; pull them out as you see them. They dull the blade and can cause dangerous projectiles.
  • Stop and remove any loose pieces as you cut.
  • Cut first along the wall with the short edges of the planks, then cut along the wall with the long edges of the planks. 
  • After you have cut the edges, cut into the corners with a Sawzall or a multi-tool.

Voila! The edges are now neatly released from the walls.

  • Remove the middle area in three-foot sections if you are discarding it or larger sections if you will re-use it or sell it to a salvager.

Some additional questions to which you might need answers are listed below.

Can you use a circular saw to cut hardwood floors?

You can use a circular saw to cut floors, and although it won’t cut flush to the wall, you may not need to. If the wood floor has not been nailed at the ends, it may be loose enough to come out easily with a prybar.

Some professionals use a circular saw to cut as close to the wall as possible. Then they make a diagonal cut into the remaining edge and chip it out by hand.

The best option is to experiment by removing a small section to see what you prefer before deciding.

How far should the hardwood floor be from the wall?

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This question is excellent because you absolutely need to allow room for the replacement hardwood boards to expand and contract through the seasons. The simple fact is, we could write an entire article about the expansion and contraction of different types of hardwood and engineered hardwood!

But if you use the basic carpenter's rule of leaving a 3/4 inch (10-15 mm) expansion gap around the entire perimeter, you should be safe from some serious math equations.

If you love math and you want to calculate the moisture content of quarter-sawn versus flat-sawn wood, the dimensional change of the coefficient of the wood species,  the width of the boards, the dimensions of the room, and the average yearly moisture content, go right ahead! But far easier is to use the classic 3/4 inch rule.

In Closing

Man installing wood flooring in home, How To Cut Hardwood Floors Near A Wall

Cutting hardwood floor near the wall is an easy task once you see the tools available. As you can see, there are several options available depending on your budget (don’t forget renting or borrowing is an option). Any tool can be mastered with a bit of experience.  And never forget the 3/4 inch expansion rule, even if you are a math whiz!

To get a professional look at a DIY price, read the following articles before beginning your replacement:

Should Hardwood Floor Go Under Cabinets?

Should There Be Gaps In A New Hardwood Floor?

Does A Hardwood Floor Need Underlayment Or Subfloor?