When your beautiful, original wooden floor falls victim to tarnishing, scratches, spills, or other more serious damage, it’s easy to panic.
Even those with a more contemporary set of planks might be worried about how hard it’s going to be to fix the problem.
Having wooden floors fitted and then keeping them well-maintained is an expensive endeavor. Noticeable stains can spoil the overall effect, impact your aesthetic and, quite frankly, be really irritating.
Not only that, but if you attempt an unsuitable or inappropriate repair method, you could end up making the problem worse than it was in the first place!
What starts as a tiny scuff or scrape can end up a large and costly problem, just because you implemented the wrong technique.
You know what they say - failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Okay, calm down. Stop freaking out - we’re here to help. Our years of experience in caring for hardwood floors have enabled us to create this clear, helpful guide to wood floor repair.
From how much it’s going to cost you to fix the damage, to which repair method matches your situation, we’ll cover it all. This is the only tab you need to open!
Can wood floors be repaired?
That depends on the extent of the damage! Knowing the difference between some minor imperfections or slight marring and the need for total replacement is important.
You don’t want to tear everything up unnecessarily!
Hardwood, particularly when we’re talking about an older home (as historically, the wood used was a whole lot chunkier) is quite a rugged, hard-wearing material.
Gentle warping, some peeling or the presence of grooves can be repaired in most cases.
A good old fashioned sanding down, whether all over or just in one part, and then restaining or refinishing, can restore a floor to its former glory.
It won’t look quite as majestic as it once did, but removing the top layer can hide a multitude of sins!
Bear in mind that replacing a couple of planks with a new type of wood could be problematic, as the color that the fresh ones dry to once finished may not match your original.
However, when you’re looking at a considerable problem with a large area of your floor - or in the event you’re renovating and making a big mess - you’ll find it’s more efficient cost and time-wise to replace the whole floor, if you can afford to.
How much does it cost to repair a wood floor?
The price for repair is different and depends on the extent of the damage, among other factors!
Firstly, completing repairs yourself will always be cheaper, as you don’t need to pay an expert for their time and labor, as well as necessary tools.
That being said, we don’t recommend taking on a large-scale repair project yourself without previous DIY experience, unless you’re planning on doing some serious research beforehand!Those looking to find an exact estimate on costs of repairs before getting started can use this handy tool from HomeAdvisor.com, which uses your zip code to make an estimate.
According to their research, the average floor repair conducted by a professional costs $946, from a range that starts as low as $443 and peaks at $1,449.
Dictated by how large the problem is, expect to spend between $2 and $25 per square foot on average, though some feedback indicates up to $100 per square foot.
To provide some context for those figures, the repairs HomeAdvisor covered include everything from the tiniest scratch to significant and serious water damage.
Likewise, the methods involved also impact cost of repair, determined by whether you’re sanding, staining, refinishing, replacing altogether or a combination.
Can water damaged wood floors be fixed?
You can try! Again, it’s all about just how severe the damage is, and whether or not it would make more sense to just tear everything up and start again.
Sustaining water damage is a regular occurrence in houses with wood floors, given that wood itself is a naturally very porous material that easily absorbs H2O.
When those telltale signs of water damage - curving, warping or cupping, which results in an uneven, raised or bowed surface - appear, it’s important to sort them out as soon as possible. Don’t put it off until things get worse!
Failure to fix the issue before it spreads means that the damage will continue to affect more and more of the wood until the entire floor is ruined and unfixable.
Once a floor starts buckling - rising up in the center, or ‘crowning’ to the point where individual planks begin to protrude out from the floor - then that’s it, you’ll no longer be able to fix them.
However, should you catch the boards in the early stages of water damage, contained to a small surface area, it’s possible the problem can be solved. Ideally, you should call in a professional for this kind of issue though.
Can scratches be removed from hardwood floors?
There are definitely a few methods you can try!
First, distinguish whether it’s a superficial (surface) scratch or one that has penetrated through to the wood beneath the protective coating.
When your problem is simple, give this old wives’ tale method a try - you likely have the two ingredients necessary!
Combine olive oil and apple cider vinegar, apply to the scratch and leave for a few hours.
If you come back later, wipe the mix away and there’s no change, try this - get yourself a soft damp rag and clean the floor down, then fill in the scratch with a stick of wood wax - either clear or a color that matches your planks.
Buff with a clean soft dishcloth, rubbing the wax in back and forth to restore the floor, smooth out scratches and even bring some added shine!
When you’ve got a deeper scratch on your hands, you’re going to want to buff more aggressively, towards not against the grain of the wood, using some steel wool. This should completely eradicate the mark.
Blend the edges by buffing a millimeter around it, then cover with wood wax, allow to rest for a half hour, and buff away until shiny.
How can I restore my hardwood floors without sanding?
Although sanding your floors is the easiest and most efficient way to restore that wood to its former glory, it can also be a messy and expensive job.
Moreover, thinner or previously sanded floors might not respond well to additional roughage, leaving you desperate for a new solution that isn’t “spend thousands of dollars on brand new planks.”
Many wood floor enthusiasts have been known to utilize what’s known as the ‘Screen and Recoat’ method, which involves getting busy with a floor buffer that has a ‘sanding screen’ to replace good old fashioned sandpaper.
First, you’re going to want to completely mop your floor until it sparkles, and then allow it to air-dry naturally.
Get yourself a buffer with a sanding screen of 120 grits in coarseness - no higher, or you’ll completely erode the finish!
Buff the whole surface of your damaged floor, and then vacuum it until there is not a speck of dust to be seen. Tack it down, then stain with at least two coats of clear floor finish.
Want to also stain your newly buffed floor, without having sanded first? Buff, then apply the stain immediately afterward, followed by your clear finish coat.
Voila! All done.
What can damage wood floors?
There are many culprits when it comes to scratching, marking, staining or otherwise damaging wood floors.
Perhaps the most notorious is one you’d least expect - your furniture! Though you might not be aware of it, every single time you sit on a chair or nudge a table, even slightly, it’s scraping against your precious hardwood!
If you don’t use furniture pads beneath the feet of all furniture items on your floors, then you’re sure to scratch it up no matter how careful you are.
When cleaning your floors, be sure to only use as much cleaner as you need.
Being overzealous with liquid cleaner can cause penetrative water damage, especially if you’re doing so on a regular basis.
Try to stick to at least every four weeks for mopping and other wet-cleaning maintenance, or six if you can put up with it!
Likewise, wringing out your mop or floor cleaner regularly will also minimize the potential for damage.
Failing to properly sweep up or vacuum (with the appropriate unit) your floors on a regular basis means that dirt, dust and debris will accumulate.
Don’t clean this up ASAP and it might scratch and scrape when it’s relocated by your feet!