Hardwood floors add elegance to any home and are one of most requested must haves for any potential buyer. However, they do require maintenance because some variations can become scarred or marked relatively easy. If you own solid wood floors and have ever mistakenly left ice cubes on the floor, you know about the water marks they can leave.
And that is just one example of hardwood floor problems that can occur during their lifetime. Just about anything can scratch a hard wood floor from pets to appliances. You have to be careful if you want to maintain their appearance.
There are some steps you can take to minimize the potential damage and correct some of the flaws in hard wood flooring.
Fixing Scratches on Wood Floors
Depending on the size of the scratch, some kind be easily repaired by waxy sticks that can be Credit: Amazon.compurchased in any home improvement or flooring store. They come in various colors so it is relatively easy to match the color of your wood. You simply rub the wax stick on the scratch, then buff it out.
If that does not work for you, you can try matching the finish with an appropriate stain or sheen. You should first check with the manufacture of your flooring so that you can match the exact type as closely as possible since stains and varnish come in many varieties.
Once you have decided on the stain, apply it using a Q-tip since a normal paint brush is much too wide. You do not want to make the repaired scratch stand out even more.
If you flooring has a non-glossy finish, you can even use a magic marker with a closely related color.
Fixing Gouges in Hardwood Floors
For fixing scratches caused by the movement of heavy furniture or other appliances, your options are more limited especially if you are dealing with engineered wood which cannot be refinished or stained. In that case, your best option is to replace the damaged flooring. When purchasing or having new engineered wood flooring installed, it is imperative for this reason to keep some extra planks on hand for situations like this.
For deep scratches in solid wood floors, you can purchase professional repair kits with plastic thermo polymers that are of better quality than the cheaper wax sticks. Many are applied using a butane torch which melts it in place. These types of kits come in various colors to help you match your flooring as much as possible.
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Sanding Imperfections and Pet Stains
If you have an area of solid wood floors that are in need of repair, first tape off the surrounding boards and lightly sand the affected area until the scratches are not visible.
It is important to match the existing finish as closely as possible or the repair will be obvious. It may take several rounds of applying the finish, progressively sanding with a finer grit paper, before refinishing with another coat.
Darker stain colors will work best at hiding imperfections and urine stains however, if the pet stains have set for years, there really is no guarantee that you can restore it to its original glory.
How to Remove Stains from Wood
If you are dealing with pet issues, you will not only be dealing with visible stains but probably a noticeable smell in the affected wood. You can look for commercial products that do a good job of removing urine odors from wood.
If you clean the affected area but the room still has the faint smell of urine, another option is to go CSI and break out a black light to reveal stains that are not visible in natural light.
If you are not satisfied with the results, another option is to remove original flooring when the appropriate tools from out of the way places like closets and replace the boards in common areas.
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How to Fix Squeaky Hardwood Floors
Older hard wood flooring was nailed often times by hand into the subfloor. Over time, nails or fasteners can become loose causing the boards to slide along the nail ever so slightly. However that small amount of movement is all it takes to cause a squeaky or creaking sound.
This is a difficult problem to fix on older solid wood flooring because the fasteners are hidden below the lip of the adjacent floor board.
If you do not want to rip up a few boards in the squeaky area, here is what you can try.
Before trying any of the options listed below, you will need someone to help you on this task. Wherever the squeak is occurring, have someone stand on the board to weigh it down while you go underneath into the crawl space or basement.
Fixing a Squeaky Floor from Underneath
Option 1 - Shim from Crawl Space
If your house is built on a crawl space that you can access, you can go underneath and trying shimming the small crevice between the subfloor and the floor joist. This might cause the subfloor to tighten against the wood flooring causing less area for movement. Remember, we are talking about a very small amount of movement in the board that is causing the squeaking, so a small change can make a big difference.
You can buy wood shim at any home improvement store. Simply jam the thin, pointy end into the crevice, and tap it lightly with a mallet to get it as far into the crevice as you can. The shim progressive gets thicker as it approaches its other end, so the more you can tap it into the crevice, the more chance you have of raising the subfloor ever so slightly.
However, do not try this with a floating floor. Those types of floor installations need the ability to expand and contract.
Option 2 – Insert Shank Nails or Screws from Crawl Space
This option is tricky because you do not want to penetrate the outside of the solid wood flooring above. It is critical to use a ring nail or screw that is no longer than the thickness of the sub-floor and the hard wood covering combined. Most subfloor plywood is ¾ of an inch thick, so using a nail or screw that is about an inch long would allow it to penetrate the subfloor all the way through with enough bite to grab the hard wood boards.
And even then, you want to hit the nail into the sub-flooring at a 45 degree angle which will provide better hold.
Again, do not try this with floating floors.
Option 3 – Apply Powder in Crevices
If you do not have a crawl space, here is one solution that may work for minor creaking and squeaking.
Take some talcum powder and sprinkle it all over the affected area. Sweep the powder into the grooves using a paint brush making sure you get as much of the powder between seams as possible. You can even try tapping the boards with a rubber mallet to get more of the powder worked into the gaps.
This will even work for floating floors which are not attached to the subfloor in any way.
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These are just a few simple DIY home repairs for repairing scratches in hardwood floors to restore them close to their original state. If the solutions listed above still do not solve the problem, you can try removing boards from out of the way places such as closets and replacing them in the problem area.
Be sure to match the finish as closely as possible before beginning any sanding, else the area will stick out like a sore thumb.
Blemishes and creaky floors can be managed with the right techniques and patience allowing you to enjoy your solid or engineered wood flooring for decades.