Hardwood floors look stunning in the right room, and they also deliver several practical benefits that save householders time and money. But if you have real wood floors — of the soft variety — protecting them from scratches, scuffs and gouges isn’t always easy.
While serious damage might require the services of a restoration expert, a few minor scratches shouldn’t be too challenging for an amateur. The next time you notice scratches on your beautiful hardwood flooring, here’s what to do.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions
Before you do anything, you should check what the manufacturer says about scratches. There may be a special sealant used on the wood, which can become damaged further with certain tools and substances. Follow what the manufacturer says, and don’t use anything that’s not explicitly approved.
Get the right substance to repair the scratched hardwood floor
Assuming you’re OK to proceed, there are several everyday substances that can help to remove superficial scratches from hardwood floors.
Break open a used tea bag, and empty the leaves onto the scratch. Allow them to sit there overnight, and then carefully sweep them up. With any luck, the tea will have left its natural colour behind — hiding or obscuring the scratch.
The original floor stain
This method is good for deeper scratches. If your floor was stained or sealed after it was laid, grab some of the stain. Sand the scratch to lessen its effect, and restain or reseal it. Repeat the process until you’re happy that the scratch is the same colour as the rest of the floor.
Rub in a small amount of mayonnaise with a microfibre cloth. Leave it for a few hours, then gently wipe it away with a clean, damp microfibre cloth. There’s a good chance that the scratch will be invisible from a distance — although this method won’t remove it completely.
If you notice a deep dent or scratch, applying heat might help. Place a thick cloth over the scratch, and iron it for around five minutes. Check the results, and repeat if necessary. This won’t eradicate the dent, but it will make it less noticeable.
Cut a walnut in two, and rub the inside over the scratch. This is a simple hack that delivers temporary results, but it also happens to work on wooden furniture.
Again, this is a temporary solution, but it’s great for covering scratches you don’t want guests to see at a social gathering. Simply apply some vegetable oil to the scratch with a microfibre cloth, and wipe it clean after a few hours.
Cleaning and maintenance are essential
Most of these scratch “removal” methods are actually only temporary. They mask the problem, rather than eradicating it. If you’re dealing with serious damage, you’ll need an expert. But you can prolong the natural life of your hardwood floors by doing some preventative work of your own.
For instance, it’s usually a good idea to completely sand and restain a hardwood floor every three to five years. Also, keep spillages and moisture to a minimum, as it can eventually break through the sealant and permanently warp the wood. If you need to clean with more than a damp cloth, use an efficient steam mop — which cleans using the minimum of water.
It’s also essential that you vacuum your floor regularly. Even small bits of debris and dirt can get trodden into hardwood floors, which can cause major scratches and gouges. Use a canister or a stick vacuum with a hard floor attachment. This accessory includes soft brushes that create a barrier between the cleaner and your flooring.
With regular cleaning, preventative maintenance and a little vigilance, you should be able to maximise the lifespan of your hardwood floors.