Preventing scratches on hardwood flooring can get pretty complicated pretty quickly depending on what sort of hardwood flooring you have. Let’s simplify things. Here’s the first question to ask yourself: Was your hardwood flooring pre-finished at the factory or, installed and then finished?
If it’s pre-finished, you’re in luck. If it was installed and then finished on-site, you’re going to have a few more things to do to protect your floors, so skip ahead to the “solid hardwood floors” section.
Pre-finished wooden floors
Today, pre-finished flooring comes with factory-applied finishes that are baked on and/or “cured” using special light sources in the ultra-violet end of the spectrum. The protectant finishes used in pre-finished, engineered flooring go way beyond what’s available to even to professional flooring installers and do-it-yourselfers.
When you choose a high-quality brand, you can rest assured you’re getting the toughest, hardest, most durable and scratch resistant finish on your flooring. Urethane, aluminum oxide and polyester coatings, are far more advanced than the good ol’ shellac and varnishes of yesteryear. Multiple layers of these high-tech protectants are scientifically designed to work together. And as long as the flooring is installed properly, you can count on years and years of beautiful performance that’s virtually maintenance free.
Solid Hardwood Floors
Solid hardwood floors can be stunning and last a very, very long time. Many heritage homes over a hundred years old have their original solid wood floors intact. Every species of hardwood has different characteristics and different levels of hardness. How the wood is milled, how long it’s dried, and how it’s installed have a direct effect on the way it will perform in your home.
These variables can make choosing the right flooring a challenge for professionals, let alone a homeowner. If you’re interested in solid hardwood flooring, your safest bet is to work with a well-established, top notch flooring specialty store. They will be able to help you chose the right floor for you and even more importantly, help you choose the right technicians who are going to install and finish your beautiful floor.
Dirt does damage
Regardless of what type of wood floor you have, the cleaner you keep them the fewer the scratches you’ll have. Dust, dirt, and grit are your worst enemy. The trouble is your floor might look clean but the fine, hard to see grit is doing its job on your floors anyway. Fine particles work their way back and forth on your finish much the same way a piece of sandpaper rubbing on your floor would.
Every time you walk back and forth these tiny particles grind off a bit of the finish. Before you know it, dull spots appear and if this goes on long enough, eventually the finish wears through to the bare wood. Although pre-finished, engineered hardwood floors can withstand more of this than finished-on-site coatings overtime dirt and grit will damage your floor.
Minor wear and tear can accumulate so slowly, it’s hard to notice. Deep scratches can happen all at once and they can be heart breaking. Here are some of the unexpected yet common causes of deep scratches.
Dragging a piece of heavy furniture to see what it looks like in another part of the room is the worst culprit. One little piece of grit caught under one of the legs will leave you an unhappy memento of your redecorating efforts. Most people don’t mean to do it and moving the furniture a couple of feet may seem harmless because the floor seems clean. The armchair or couch doesn’t even need to be heavy for scratching to occur.
Big dogs ≠ deep scratches
If you’ve got a big, lovable dog you already know it’s a good idea to keep their nails short. It’s sort of the same with big shoes and big boots. It’s best not to wear them in the house, but if you have to, please be sure to clean them before stepping inside.
Wiping your shoes on a door mat may not be enough. Sometimes little stones are embedded in the sole and you may not notice them when you’re walking outside. Thankfully, not many people wear spiked heels anymore or have metal toe or heal taps on their shoes, but you never know. You might want to set up a cozy place for everyone to leave their shoes outside just to be safe.
Keep it clean to keep the sheen
The cleaner you keep your wood floors, the longer the finish will last. Thankfully, you don’t need anything fancy. You don’t need any special cleaning product or equipment. A simple broom and a damp–not wet mop will do the trick for your wood floor.
On the other hand, some people make cleaning hardwood floors a bit of a relaxing ritual. Some people will use a genuine horsehair broom for the dust and then follow it up with a bit of vinegar mixed in a pail of water to wring out a damp sponge mop.
Depending on how much clutter you have on the floor, you might go the high-tech route with a Roomba to vacuum up the dust and a Braava to wet mop. You won’t believe how much fun it can be watching these little robots crisscross your floor.
Tips to keep your floors looking great
Prevent scratches by adding felt pads to the bottom of furniture legs
Replace them periodically to avoid grit accumulation.
Declare your home a NO-SHOE ZONE..
Wear comfy slippers and never go outside with them
Keep a cordless hand vac nearby and use it to pick up minor spills or use it instead of a dustpan after you sweep
Place door mats at each entrance and a convenient place to store shoes right be the door will encourage good habits
Roll chair matts for your office chair
Anything with rollers should be on a protective roll mat to keep your floor looking beautiful.
Use non-slip rug pads under your area rugs
These will keep you safer and they will allow dirt and grit to be easily vacuumed up.
Clean up liquid spills right away
Most floor finishes are impervious to many liquids but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I found a scratch – Now what?
Depending on the depth and length of the scratch, you have options. Sometimes a bit of similar color wood stain, or polishing compound can help to remove scratches or at least, hide them. Very deep scratches might require color matched wood filler.
Deep scratches galore
This is one instance when having solid wood floors that are installed and then finished can really pay off. Even if you have deep scratches everywhere and other damaged areas, you can choose to have your floor sanded and refinished to look like new. This option is not available to most people who have engineered/pre-finished floors.