Fixing Wood Floors

We have to face facts. Despite the fact that we shelled out $5 a square foot for hard wood floors, they will get damaged occasionally. Furniture moves, drunken partiers drop cigarettes, a rock gets stuck in the bottom of your boots, beer gets spilled, and other general chaos ensues. This is the price we pay for actually enjoying our investments and not treating our homes like museums. The good news is that provided your floors have not been re-finished too much, these are fixable. The bad news is that you may have to miss some quality lounging around time.

Now if there is massive damage to the floor, you might want to call someone or rent a commercial floor sander. I simply want to tell you about the small spot-fixes that you could do in less than a hour.

These fixes are for when the damage DID NOT PENETRATE PAST THE FINISH OF THE FLOOR. If the damage did wind up going through the entire finish to the point it has damaged to floor itself, you will want to consider screening and removing the finish of the entire floor, sanding off the damaged area and reapplying a new finish. Trying to spot sand off the damage and reapply a finishing agent to just the affected area could make it look like an obvious patch job. Whether the obvious patch is better than the scuff and/or burn marks is more/less noticeable than the patch is up for debate, but that is something for you to consider.

Waxed Finishes

Water Stains- This will probably be a fairly common occurrence in your living room or kitchen. Liquids can erode the wax that you used to finish the floor. Use a small piece of medium grade steel wool (No.1) and wax to lightly blend in the water damaged area. Apply the wax to the steel wool but do not use so much elbow grease as to sand the floor, but instead only remove the wax on the area. To much pressure will not apply the wax and could leave a swirl mark, so experiment a bit to figure out how much force you need. Wax the entire floor afterwords to blend the area with the rest of the floor.

Shallow Burn Mark– Use a medium grade, No. 1 steel wool moistened with soap and water as opposed to wax at first to remove the burn mark. Wait for the floor to dry completely. Not waiting for the floor to completely dry will trap the water in the wood when you wax and could stain the wood. Re waxing the entire floor would be optimum here, but spot waxing is an option.

Heel/Scuff Marks– The happen often when you wear your shoes inside the house or if you do not have some layer of protection between your floor and furniture legs. Make sure that the damage did not damage the floor, but merely the finish by using a little water and seeing if the mark gets darker than the unaffected area. The wood will absorb the water and darken the mark more significantly if it went completely through the finish. If it did go through the finish and into the wood, you may have to re stain the area between cleaning the area and waxing. Use medium grade steel wool and remove the area of wax, Reapply the wax using the steel wool to a wide area (Again, full floor optimal, but optional).

Polyurethane Finishes-

Water Stains- Try buffing with a cotton rag and a hardwood flooring cleaner, which will cost you around $4. If this doesn’t fix the problem, consider sanding with 100-grit sandpaper and re staining the area, or possibly the whole floor. If you choose to try and spot sand the area, make sure to match the type of polyurethane originally there, whether water or oil based.

Shallow burn marks and scratches– This is an instance where you will have to remove the damaged area and blend it over a larger area. Leaving any amount of carbon scoring on the floor will only look magnified under wax or polyurethane. Use a piece of sandpaper, probably 150 grit, or a sharp chisel to remove the effected area.

Heel and Scuff marks– There is not much you can do to avoid an obvious patch job here, but it may be less obvious than the mark itself. Sand down the finish and wood with 100 grit sandpaper and re apply stain if needed. Consider screening and re-coating the entire floor.


Gum, Candle Wax, Crayon-Put ice in a double plastic and freeze the substance. Scrape it up with a sharp putty knife or chisel.

For more information about re-finishing floors, take a look at these sites.

This Old House,,203303,00.html

Ehow Houses


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