This may be our new favorite floor catastrophe inquiry and photo: A customer began to pull up carpet and discovered dozens of these gashes in the hardwood floor underneath. They called us ask about repair options. Do you think you know what happened here (no, it was not a pet cougar) or how you would go about fixing it?
Here was our answer:
I've been looking at floor damage for 15 years, and I have never seen gouges like this. I suspected it was caused by a carpet installation tool so I snooped a little on some carpet installation message boards, and this quote about “carpet stingers” was repeated in many different forms:
It not only messes up the backing of the carpet it will mess up the flooring underneath it. Hardwood won't be usable if customer decides to go back to wood. On OSB it will leave a hump where it bunched up the wood. It will really make a mess of fine denier carpets.
So I stand by my original diagnosis, which is that a board-by-board repair of this floor is possible, but it may actually cost less to tear up and re-lay the existing floor, mixing in new boards as necessary to make up for the missing damaged stock.
One thing that I did observe is that your floor seems to have a very high proportion of quartersawn boards, so if you do any replacement, I would insist that quartersawn oak be used. It is sold as a separate (more expensive, of course) grade, but it will help the new wood blend better into the existing floor. Also based on the photographs there is a possibility that this is white oak - make sure they test and match what you have!