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Treating Scratches on Wooden Floors
Ah scratching on hardwood floors. Scratches can be small and only barely damage the protective coat in which case they are just a minor annoyance. They can also be penetrating the finish and exposing the wood below, at which point they turn into a serious issue that cannot be ignored. Regardless of size and severity, even minor scratches should not be left unattended because a small problem can easily become a big one given the opportunity. It is vital that those issues are identified and dealt with and swiftly. However, isn’t it even better to find the potential sources of scratching and prevent that damage from even occurring.
What Causes Scratching on Hardwood Floors?
There are four main reasons for scratching – dust and dirt, heavy traffic, furniture and pets. Let’s take a look at what we can do about each of them.
Cleaning outside. Dust and dirt particles can enter your home from the outside and damage your floor’s finish. It is obvious that a frequent cleaning regime will help keep the surface safe. Additionally, it would be wise to also clean outside of your home. Your guests, your pets or even a strong gust of wind can bring a whole lot of dirt on your floor. Why not remove this threat preemptively?
Shoes and heavy traffic. As the time goes by, your floor will experience traffic. This traffic will eventually lead to the surface becoming worn and distressed. The question is what kind of traffic is your floor enduring? Or should we say, what kind of shoes are causing it? High heels, in particular, can be very damaging because they concentrate a lot of weight in a single pressure point. A good idea is to offer your guests a pair of slippers and ask them to put the high heels away while in your home.
Rugs and Mats. There are parts of your floor placed in key areas like, for example, around doors. Those places suffer more traffic than others and are the first to get dirty when someone steps in. A rug or mat is not only easy to clean but it will preserve your floor for a whole lot longer.
Pets. They have claws and while not intentional, they can ruin the finish of your hardwood floors. This is especially bad if you have a big dog with appropriately big nails. Trimming them frequently definitely will save you a bit of trouble and keep your floor in good condition.
Furniture. Furniture can leave marks and scratches on the surface of your floor. Areas like the kitchen where chairs and tables can be moved frequently are in particular danger. The simplest solution is to use furniture pads and glides to prevent such issues from ever happening.
Treating Scratches on Hardwood Flooring
We have two major types of floor finish –penetrating oils and lacquers (varnishes). Varnishes are a type of surface finish which comes in the form of a coating sitting on top of your wooden floor. Because of this, lacquers are more vulnerable to scratching compared to other floor finishes.
Repairing scratches will often involve the use of wax to polish the surface, hardwood floor cleaner, wire brush for some more serious scratches and of course - a few pieces of cloth to clean.
Minor surface scratches. These are relatively easy to deal with. Take a damp cloth soaked with professional floor cleaner and use it on the damaged area. Afterwards, remove what is left of the cleaner with a rag. Give it some to dry completely and cover the place with protective finish again.
Small finish penetrating scratches. The treatment is similar to that of minor scratches – use a cleaner to make sure the area is … clean, wipe the leftovers and allow it some time to dry. Now use wire wool to smooth the scratch and be careful to always move with the direction of the grain to prevent damaging it. This will allow you to rub a wax stick on top of the scratched place. After the wax hardens, you can buff the wax with a cloth.
Deep scratches. People use wood fillers to cover such damage because if properly mixed with sawdust they can hide the scratch pretty well. Apply with a plastic putty knife and make sure the putty is dry before grabbing a fine, high-grade sandpaper to level the surface. Clean thoroughly to make sure there is no dust left and apply the finish. It is done!
Keep in mind those are just general tips and if you are unsure how to proceed, it is always better to consult with professionals.