What Finish Is On Your Floor
It can be a nasty shock when you notice that your hardwood floor has been scratched or scuffed. Take a deep breath! Luckily, most scratches can be fixed, with more or less effort required depending on the severity. When you want to understand how to repair your scratched hardwood floor, the first thing to check is your floor’s finish.
A finish is a thin layer of material that protects your floor from scuffs, scratches and everyday wear and tear. There are many types of finish available, with the most common being wax-based, oil-based polyurethane, and water-based.
Of these three, by far the most common is oil-based polyurethane. Less commonly, your floor could also be finished with durable aluminum oxide. It’s also important to know if your floor has been finished or varnished.
Repairing Superficial Scratches
Superficial scratches are light blemishes that only affect the surface finish of the wood, not reaching the layer of finished hardwood. Superficial scratches are the easiest to repair, and are rarely a cause for concern.
If only a small portion of your wood shows superficial scratching, it can easily be addressed through some home remedies. Walnut or coconut oil can easily remove the appearance of scratches if allowed to soak in and the excess wiped off. Another method is to make a solution of equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar and apply it to the scratched area. Leave it on for several hours, then wipe it off. These methods usually remove small scratches.
If superficial scratches have accumulated all over your floor, then the best solution is to buff and recoat your floor, also called a screen and recoat. A professional can use a buffer to remove the finish from your entire floor. Once this is done, they will apply a new coat of finish. A screen and recoat will take around 48 hours, but will remove all superficial scratches, along with scuffed areas and patches where the finish has worn thin.
Repairing Minor Scratches
The next level of damage is a minor scratch. These scratches have penetrated through the entire surface finish, and may or may not have damaged the underlying wood beneath.
Dealing with minor scratches is more difficult than superficial ones, but it’s still very manageable. When attempting to address a minor scratch, you can try to apply a new coat of finish. If the scratch has penetrated the finish but hasn’t damaged the underlying wood, then a new coat of finish can be the perfect fix. It’s very important to replicate the original finish of the wood as closely as possible if you’re going to attempt this fix.
If you notice more than one minor scratch, or if you notice that the scratches have penetrated the top surface of the wood, the best course of action is to sand and refinish.
When your floor is sanded and refinished, a powerful sander is used to remove the finish and the entire top layer of your floor. This will expose a new layer of fresh wood, which will not be affected by any minor or shall scratches, stains, or finishes. Next, you’ll have a choice of applying a new stain, and finish. Including time for the stains and finishes to dry, this process will usually take between two and three days.
Sanding and refinishing is a very powerful floor refurbishment and repair tool. There are a few caveats to keep in mind, however. The first is that a hardwood floor can only be refinished around ten to twelve times during its lifespan – so it’s important that you make each refinishing count! It’s overkill to refinish over a small scratch. The second is that refinishing can be a deceptively difficult job. The powerful sander needed can damage your floors, and for best effect applying new finishes and stains is often a job best left to the pros.
Repairing Deep Scratches
Deep scratches or gouges are the most difficult to fix. You’ll need to use a wood filler, which is a putty-like substance used to disguise gouges. It’s important to check the product to make sure it’s a good match for your floor – especially the colour!
Once you’ve prepared the area around the gouge in accordance with the instructions of the product, apply the putty. Once it’s thoroughly dried, you’ll need to sand it down level with the rest of the floor.
While it would be better if your floor stayed free of scratches – life happens. It’s important to know that scratches in your hardwood floor aren’t the end of the world, and there’s usually an easy fix available depending on the severity of the scratch.
One essential thing to keep in mind when repairing a scratch is that this is often a job better left to the pros. Whether sanding and refinishing or filling in a gouge, a professional touch is typically the best bet to return your floor to a good condition. Trying to save money with a DIY job can backfire if the results don’t turn out perfectly, or even worse – damage your floor further.