If you have a hardwood floor, fixing scratches and repairing dings is part of life. Foot traffic, pets, furniture moving around, and even accidents can scratch or ding your wood floors. The question is, when do you try to fix your floor yourself, and when do you need to hire a professional?
Please see the table below for a summary and the explanations further down if required:
Med/Heavy - Screen & Recoat
Heavy - Refinish
Med/Heavy - Warranty Claim
Heavy - Replace Boards
You can check out good quality touch-up pens here.
Here are three simple steps to help you decide which course of action to take:
Step 1 – What Type Of Wood Do You Have?
How you repair the scratch will depend on what sort of wood you have. Is it solid or engineered? If you are unsure, please see here for a detailed explanation.
Most solid wood floors have a polyurethane finish (either oil or water-based), and most prefinished engineered have an aluminum oxide finish or something similar.
Step 2 – What’s The Damage?
Okay, now you know what type of wood you have, the next thing to work out is; if the scratch is in the finish or the wood itself?
Here’s how to tell:
Stand at an angle to the scratch a few feet away, so the light hits it, and you can see the damage.
Now keep your eyes on the spot and move towards it until you’re standing directly above it.
If you no longer see it or it becomes not as obvious, then the scratch is in the finish, not the actual wood. If, however, you see it clear as day, like in this picture, then you have damage to the wood itself.
Now assess the area – are you looking to touch up a few minor spots, or do you have extensive damage all over?
Step 3 – Action!
Ok, please read very carefully here as this can be the difference between quickly fixing scratches in your hardwood floor and incurring a much more significant expense to do so.
Solid Wood Floors
- If you have minor surface scratches in the finish, this is extremely common for any solid floor that’s not brand new. They are barely noticeable and not worth the hassle of fixing them since minor abrasions will reappear with time. Unless you want to be reapplying polyurethane each time the finish is imperfect, don’t become OCD about it and leave them alone!
- If you have moderate to heavy damage in the finish where it just looks old and dull, and you want to bring it to life again, then you do what’s known as a screen and recoat.
You don’t need to resand and refinish your entire floor!
Screen and recoats involve taking off polyurethane coats and applying fresh coats. This will rejuvenate your floors and make them look brand new again without the expense of resanding or even completely redoing your wood floors.
Be sure to screen and recoat the entire area affected and connecting areas; otherwise, there will be a difference in the finish. Contact a professional; don’t attempt this yourself if you don’t have the proper tools and/or experience.
Here’s a recent one we did:
- If you have minor-medium scratches in the wood itself in few/moderate areas, you can quickly repair these yourself using furniture repair kit wood markers, aka touch-up pens. Just be sure to get the right ones like these and not some imitation ones otherwise; it’ll look like you tried coloring in your floor, and you missed! 🙂
- If you have moderate to heavy damage in the actual wood with deep scratches in large areas (very rare), this is only one of two times you ever need to resand and refinish your entire floor. The only other time you would need to is to change the color. Be sure to refinish the whole area to get consistent, even look in both color and finish.
There are too many variables affecting the finish, like time, wear, application consistency, etc., so do it right and refinish everything if you’re picky about this.
If any of the boards are too severely damaged, replacing them via lace-in is your best option.
Contact a professional; don’t attempt this yourself if you don’t have the proper tools and/or experience.
Engineered Wood Floors
- If you have minor surface scratches in the finish, then this is part of the wear and tear on a hardwood floor, and I wouldn’t stress over it. Most of the time, minor abrasions are invisible unless you get on all fours with your cheek to the floor. Just leave them alone.
- If you have moderate to heavy damage in the finish where it just looks old and dull, and you feel it’s wearing through, the product manufacturer’s warranty should cover this. Most offer lifetime warranties on their finish, so get with your retailer and file a claim (they’ll do it on your behalf).
- Suppose you have minor-medium scratches in the actual wood in a few areas. In that case, you can quickly repair these yourself using furniture repair kit wood markers, aka touch-up pens. Just be sure to get the right ones like these and not some imitation ones otherwise; it’ll look like you tried coloring in your floor, and you missed! 🙂
- If you have moderate to heavy damage in the actual wood, then hopefully, you have extra material left over from the same batch where individual boards can be replaced. This is one advantage of engineered hardwood floors; you can remove and install separate boards/areas like a puzzle if required with minimal mess and time. Contact a professional; don’t attempt this yourself if you don’t have the proper tools and/or experience.
Protecting Your Floor
Once you’ve repaired your floor, it’s good common sense to use sliders and/or high-quality furniture pads like these to protect your floors from future damage. Area rugs, keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, and taking your shoes off inside all help to protect and prolong the life of your hardwood floor.
Remember to know your limitations!
If you can comfortably touch up a few minor scratches on your own, then no problem. However, trying to resand or refinish your floor without adequate knowledge, tools and experience will be a costly mistake.
I hope this overview helped – please reach out should you have any other questions.
Best of luck with your project!