Tips for Repairing Minor Damage to Wood Floors (…So Your Security Deposit Doesn’t Slip through the Cracks)
Let’s face it—accidents happen. From something as simple as a heavy glass slipping out of your hand to mindlessly sliding a large piece of furniture across your room, even the most careful tenants amongst us will find themselves needing to address minor damage to the wood flooring in our apartments. Luckily, there are a number of simple solutions available for repairing unsightly scratches and dings. Investing just a small amount of time and effort will allow you to restore the floor’s original shine, and, in return, maximize the amount you’ll get back from your security deposit.
Minor scratches and worn spots
Maybe you failed to place a rug under your coffee table or couch, or perhaps you didn’t consider the possible damage that could occur while relocating your dresser—either way, you’ve found yourself staring at small scratches and/or worn patches on your apartment’s wood flooring. Consider a couple of options for repairing the affected areas:
- If you’re interested in only using common household items to fix your floor’s finish, a simple mixture of vinegar and canola oil might be the perfect solution for scratches and worn spots. Combine one part vinegar with three parts canola oil and rub it into the floor.
- A wood stain marker is an easy choice for concealing small scratches and nicks in the surface of your wood floors. They’re available in kits containing multiple colors and coordinating wax fillers—so, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an appropriate match to the existing finish. Make sure the surface is clean, and then color in the scratch and buff to blend. If you’re dealing with a nick that goes below the surface, you should use the wax filler to build up the area, allow it to dry, and buff to blend.
Deeper scratches and dings
For larger areas where the damage is more extensive, you’ll need to take a different approach. While the process might seem daunting, there’s no need to panic. Take a deep breath and follow these steps to a scratch-free floor:
Determine the type of finish on the existing floor so you’ll know the proper way to proceed with your repairs. Depending on the finish, it’s entirely possible you may be able to get away with a solution as simple as applying a new coat of wax and buffing.
- Prepare the affected area by thoroughly cleaning to ensure the surface is smooth and free of debris.
- If you determined your floors have a polyurethane coating in step 1, you need to remove this layer before you make the necessary repairs. You can either lightly sand away the finish or use a scouring pad with mineral spirits.
- Apply a wood filler—one that matches your flooring—to the scratches and dings you’re repairing. Make sure you completely fill in the damaged areas and allow to dry.
- Remove any excess filler from the repaired areas and surrounding surfaces using a putty knife, fine grit sandpaper, or a combination of both. Then wipe away any debris with a damp cloth.
- Apply the appropriate finish (as determined in step 1) to the repaired area and allow to dry. Multiple coats may be necessary in order to achieve the desired look.
A detailed guide to making these repairs—complete with helpful illustrations—can be found here.
NOTE: depending on the age and condition of the existing hardwood floors in your apartment, and in order to ensure you don’t accidentally turn minor damage into a major problem, you should consider consulting with a professional before attempting these repairs on your own.