Do you have hardwood floors topped by a polyurethane finish? Have you started to notice some nicks, scratches and possibly even deep gouges in that shiny coating? Even with the best of care, it is possible to get occasional scratches in polyurethane sealed wood floors. Pulling a heavy chair or table across the floor’s surface can be enough to cause damage. In other cases, dogs and cats run across the floor and leave more than light tracks.
If your floor does have noticeably scratched areas, you don’t need to despair. Even if a scratch has penetrated the polyurethane and reached the hardwood floor, you may be able to fix if yourself. You just have to follow five basic steps to fix and maintain your polyurethane wood floor finish:
1) Repair Scratches in Polyurethane Floors by Looking Closely at the Damage
Basically, you need to know if you’re dealing with a light scratch or one which has penetrated the polyurethane wood finish. Even if you get down on your hands and knees and use a magnifying glass, it may still be hard to determine the depth of the scratch. Luckily, you can use a simple test to help assess the damage. Simply take a few teaspoons of water and let them drip directly onto the scratch.
Resist the impulse to stare at the scratched floor. Simply walk away and do something else for a few minutes. When you return, you’ll either see beads of water on top of the polyurethane or you’ll notice a dark spot on the hardwood. The dark spot means that the scratch has penetrated through the polyurethane wood finish and actually reached the hardwood itself. Whether the scratch is light or deep, odds are that you can still handle the repair yourself. But let’s start with the easier task first.
2) Buy What You Need to Handle Light Scratches in Polyurethane Wood Finishes
If your floor isn’t particularly old, you can save time by making a quick call to your hardwood floor installer. Some have touch up kits made specifically for your floor. Others carry basic kits which can be used on nearly any polyurethane wood finish. If so, you’re in luck. Get the kit and follow the guidelines on the box. In most cases, scratch repair is simple.
No luck in locating a touch-up kit? Make a trip to the hardware store and grab some fine steel wool. Make sure you pick up some tack cloths to handle dust that you’ll create from sanding or buffing the scratch with the steel wool. Get a small bottle of mineral spirits and a polyurethane-friendly brush, too. Finally, you’ll want to get some polyurethane hardwood floor finish. The only critical part of this whole process? You need to know whether an oil or water-based polyurethane was originally used on your hardwood floor. Again, the original floor installment specialist should be able to provide this information.
3) How to Remove Light Scratches in a Polyurethane Surface
Start with the steel wool and gently rub it over the damaged floor areas. Take care not to apply too much pressure. Remember, you are simply trying to remove any scratches, not cause further damage. Light dents and nicks should disappear quickly – with luck. If that doesn’t work, reach for that bottle of mineral spirits. Use a simple kitchen scouring pad to help soak the scratch. Then buff it again. This should do the trick and get rid of light scratches in polyurethane. After the area has dried, use tack cloths to get rid of any dust and brush on a coat or two of polyurethane. Be sure to keep all family members, friends, and pets out of the room for the next day or two. Your floor should look brand new again.
4) How to Repair Deep Scratches in a Polyurethane Finish
Even though this task isn’t that hard, don’t attempt to handle deep scratch repair if the majority of your floor has been damaged. In those cases, it is best to call a pro who may need to use an electric sander to make the task easier. But you can save money by handling a couple of deep scratches yourself.
Buy the same supplies needed for light polyurethane scratch repair (mineral spirits, brush, tack cloths, polyurethane, steel wool) with two exceptions – you’ll also want very fine sandpaper and a wood stain that matches your hardwood floor. A manual hand sander can be a great aid as well.
To fix the damage, you simply need to sand through the polyurethane until you’ll reached the hardwood floor. Is the wood stained? Sand it away and brush on the wood stain. Let the stain dry, use the tack cloth to get rid of any dust, and apply a coat of polyurethane over the wood. To remove and repair deep scratches, you may need to use several coats of polyurethane to fill in the damage. Allow each coat of polyurethane floor finish to dry completely before adding another layer. Only use as much as you need. Thicker coats are not necessarily better.
5) Finally, Take Simple Steps to Reduce Future Scratches in Polyurethane Floors
You don’t have to harass every person who walks on your newly finished floor or insist that shoes are removed. You can greatly reduce scratches in polyurethane by putting a floor mat in each entrance to the room. Some are even transparent (or nearly so). An attractive floor runner right inside the entrance will help to pick up excess dirt that gets into the room. Use a light vacuum or floor duster for five minutes every other day to grab excess dirt and debris. Finally, keep your pets’ claws clipped. A significant number of scratches in polyurethane come from pets. A few minutes a week spent maintaining your floor can lessen – or even completely prevent – further damage.
Source: Personal experience