If you’ve recently invested in a new hardwood floor, or own a home with this classic feature, then keeping your investment beautiful and scratch free should be a top priority. Thankfully, there are several ways to cover scratches on your hardwood flooring that won’t break the bank or take the entire weekend!
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Due to its natural look, durability, convenience, and popularity, hardwood flooring can add a lot of value to any home. Of course, in order to preserve its value, it’s a good idea to cover up the inevitable scratches your hardwood flooring will receive.
Assess the Scratch
Before you start thinking about how you’re going to cover scratches on your hardwood floor, take a close look to determine how deep they are. Scratches that aren’t very deep and are mostly on the surface can quickly be covered and don’t necessarily need to be filled. If the scratch cuts into the wood itself and is more like a gouge, then you may need to do a little more work.
Deep scratches can get worse and bigger over time as people walk across or objects get dragged over them. If a piece of debris like a pebble or a furniture leg gets caught in them, it could even chip the wood or break a larger piece off from the floor.
Depending on the type of hardwood flooring you have, your floor could be more prone to serious and deep scratches then others. Engineered hardwood floors are made with manufactured boards that have several layers including a more resilient wood veneer on top. Solid wood flooring, on the other hand, is comprised of just one species of wood.
The harder and more durable the wood is the less likely it will incur deep scratches or dents. The Janka Hardness Test measures how hard a type of wood is by measuring how much force is required to embed a small steel ball in it. More exotic species like Brazilian Walnut and Brazilian Teak are among the hardest trees, while domestic woods like White Ash or Yellow Birch are much softer.
Many wood distributors, like the Timber Merchants Association for example, provide information about which kinds of hardwood flooring are harder and more durable.
One relatively quick way to cover light scratches is by applying some mineral spirits to them. First, you’ll have to do some light sanding to remove the finish on the wood and sand down the scratch. Use a soft, steel wool pad and be sure to sand with the grain along the scratch and not against it. Sanding against the grain could cause more scratches that will need to be covered!
Once the scratch has been sanded down, apply mineral spirits to the wood with a cloth. Mineral spirits is a type of inexpensive solvent that is typically used as a paint thinner and comes from petroleum. It does not have a strong odor, which makes it ideal for indoor use.
An even quicker way to cover up light scratches is by using a stain marker. These are similar in size and shape to a felt marker or pen, except stain markers contain an oil-based stain that can be used on wood. They can be bought at most hardware and department stores or purchased online, and are cheap to buy.
Before you use a stain marker make sure it matches the color of your floor. Then, wipe the scratch with a damp towel to make sure there’s no dust or debris in the scratch. After the board is dry, shake the marker well and apply the stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Be sure to double check and see if you’ve applied any stain outside the scratch. If you have, you should wipe any affected areas clean before it dries. If you apply the stain to a part of the wood that still has its original finish it may look different in color from where you covered the scratch.
If you have to cover a scratch quickly or don’t have access to a store that sells stain markers, you can also use a regular permanent marker! While this may not be ideal for a floor with a lot of light scratches, marker ink pens are an inexpensive option to cover one or two scratches on your floor. Just pick a marker that is close to the same color as your floor and apply.
Apply More Stain
If you still have some of the stain on hand that you used to finish your hardwood floors then it also can be used to cover scratches. If the scratch isn’t deep, wipe it clean with a towel before you apply some stain to it with a Q-tip or fine paint brush. After you’ve done that, double check to make sure there’s no stain outside the scratch. If there is, wipe it away just as you would if you were using a stain marker.
If you have a large and deep scratch, then you may have to have to do some sanding before you can apply any stain.
Use fine grade sandpaper or steel wool, and softly sand with the grain and cover an extra inch or two outside the scratch as well. Afterwards, dust the area off and let it dry before you apply the stain. If the area affected is large enough, you may have to repeat the process until the color matches the rest of your floor.
Remember, if you have any questions about your sanding technique or covering a large scratch, it might be a good idea to consult with a contractor or a hardwood floor expert. You can also learn more through websites like Hardwood Flooring Magazine.com.
To avoid further damages to your floor, deeper and wider scratches can be repaired by filling them with wood filler. Before you do anything else, be sure to choose a filler that matches the color of your floor. Next, softly sand with the grain until the wood is soft, dust, and apply the wood filler. If you need to, you can use a plastic putty knife to make sure the scratch is filled properly.
Once the wood filler is dry, sand away any excess that’s resting above or outside the scratch. Afterwards, be sure to sweep or vacuum away any dried filler that’s been sanded, as the debris could scratch your floor as people walk over it. Then apply some wood finish to the affected area so it looks like the rest of the floor.
Like stain markers or stain, you can buy wood filler at your local hardware or department store. Most wood fillers come in small buckets or tubes and are also pretty cheap to buy.
Repair and Touch-Up Kits
If you have a busy home or you have more than one hardwood floor in your house, then they you may need to cover scratches fairly often. If so, you might want to think about buying a repair or touch-up kit, so that you have several different ways to address scratches whenever you need to.
Touch-up kits often come with several different colors of stain markers and wood fillers that can quickly cover smaller scratches. Repair kits, on the other hand, also come with various tools that may be needed to repair, or even replace, more heavily damaged boards. Because repair kits also come with tools like dowel rods, drill bits, and adhesives, they are more expensive than touch-up kits.
A nice-looking area rug is also a great way to cover unsightly scratches on your hardwood floors; particularly if you want to cover several scratches in a high traffic area. Although large, high-quality area rugs can be a bit pricey, they can be an investment that lasts for decades. You can also find less expensive area rugs that are well made and are visually appealing too.
If you are thinking about purchasing an area rug, you may also want to think about buying a rug pad to go underneath it. Rug pads help prevent an area rug from moving around as people walk across it, particularly if there is no furniture helping weigh it down.
Rug pads also help protect your floors from getting scratched. Dirt that gets trapped underneath area rugs can badly scratch your floors as people walk across. If you have a rug pad underneath, however, your hardwood flooring will be protected from any pebbles or debris above. In addition, some area rugs are coarse or rough underneath, so a rug pad will prevent them from scratching your floor.
You can learn more about area rugs by searching online or referring to organizations like The Wood Floor Covering Association.
Protecting Your Hardwood Floors
While there are many ways to cover scratches on your hardwood floors, by taking steps to prevent them, you won’t have to worry about doing any sanding or applying wood stain.
Many people like to walk across hardwood floors with their shoes because they’re really easy to clean in comparison to carpets. Before you do, however, make sure they don’t have any pebbles or dirt stuck to them that could cause a scratch. Certain types of shoes, like work boots or high heels, can also damage the floor if you’re not careful.
Be cautious when you’re moving around furniture, as table or chair legs can cause serious scratches. Putting pads underneath the legs of your furniture is also a good idea.
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