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Old 12-13-2006, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
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How can I fix scuffs on a hardwood floor?

I live in an apartment that has hardwood floors, and I just realized that the foot of one of our chairs has gradually scuffed the floor over a 6"-8" area; it's not a scratch or gouge, but it's just scuffed the floor and worn off some of the finish.

How can I fix this on my own without having to pay for an expensive repair?
Old 12-13-2006, 04:47 PM
gigi gigi is offline
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Location: Flatlander in NH
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Are the floors polyurethaned? Or waxed? Either way, you can sand them down and reapply either the poly or the wax. It may look a little obvious that there's a spot, though. The only way to avoid that would be refinishing the whole floor.
Old 12-14-2006, 05:19 AM
Rusalka Rusalka is offline
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If it's polyurethane, you would *have* to sand and refinish the whole floor, there is no way to "spot" refinish a polyurethane finish. Why do you feel the need to fix this blemish? If you are worried about the landlord, don't be - this is part of normal wear and tear. In my experience, polyurethane is a lousy finish for floors that see a lot of use, so it's his own fault for using that finish. Polyurethane is just a plastic film that lies on top of the wood.

If it's a waxed floor, you'd simply wash with appropriate materials and re-wax to restore the finish. You shouldn't be sanding a floor with a waxed finish unless there's significant gouging or other deep marks to rub out, or unless it's stained and you want to remove the stain.
Old 12-14-2006, 06:08 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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How do you tell if the floors are polyurethane or wax?
Old 12-14-2006, 07:29 AM
Spezza Spezza is offline
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You could go to a hardwood furniture store and ask them for a stain marker. These markers work wonders at repairing small blemishes. Simply marker on and wipe away, then repeat.
Old 12-14-2006, 11:01 AM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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I've used Old English scratch cover on my hardwood floors.
Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
Old 12-14-2006, 12:11 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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The finish is almost certain to be polyurethane. You can remove the scuff marks by taking very fine steel wool (#0000 if you can find it), or one of those synthetic sanding pads (again, very fine) and gently buffing away the marks. This does nothing for any finish that might have worn away, and will only remove marks on top of the finish. It might dull the finish somewhat, but if you feel up to it, you can put a coat of wax over the whole floor. Just clean properly first. And be careful about walking in your stockinged feet thereafter.
Old 12-14-2006, 12:18 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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A pink eraser. Whodathunkit?
Old 12-14-2006, 12:20 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Or this product, if you think it's poly. My guess is yes.
Old 12-14-2006, 01:31 PM
Rusalka Rusalka is offline
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Never wax a polyurethane floor! Always be wary of advice you get on Straight Dope.

I searched the internet for support,

If you wax a floor with a polyurethane finish it will ruin its potential to take a new polyurethane coat. This is because polyurethane is not oil-based and the oil based "wax" penetrates the wood (the "wax" is really an oil that dries to a hard finish). If you try to refinish the previously oiled wood in the future with polyurethane, the oiled wood will resist the plastic surface and might cause it to peel off.

You'll have to ask your landlord what kind of finish your floor has and act accordingly. If the scuff doesn't bother you for aesthetic reasons, I wouldn't worry about it.
Old 12-14-2006, 02:27 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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You're making a couple of assumptions there, Rusalka. The first is that wax is not wax. Well, some wax is wax, believe it or not -- not oil. In fact, I don't know any kind of wax that's a drying oil like you describe. Wax could, I suppose, impair the ability of the floor to be refinished with polyurethane -- except that people almost always sand down to bare wood before they refinish. Around here, when people get their old floors refinished, it's usually with polyurethane, and it's probably safe to say that 90% of them had been waxed at some point in their past.
Old 12-14-2006, 05:45 PM
Full Metal Lotus Full Metal Lotus is offline
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Quck and easy polyurethane scuff repair

this works on furniture too!

use any white (ie, non gel) type of toohpaste.. smear a thin film of it on the area.. lte it dry, and then buff off with a soft cotton cloth... unless the "varnish" is completely worn away, it will repolish the area and bring it back to its original sheen. Only possible problem is that it my be shinier than the rest of the "worn from use" floor. for a while, until it "catches up" with the wear of the rest of the area.

Old 12-14-2006, 06:06 PM
medstar medstar is online now
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Do you have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser 2 in 1 scrubbing pad? If not, get one. If so, follow directions on the package and carefully rub the dampened sponge on the offending areas. Hope this helps.
Old 12-14-2006, 06:22 PM
Rusalka Rusalka is offline
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I was assuming the wax is oily. Traditionally, you finish the floor with some kind of oil based product.

The newer alternative is to finish a floor with a water based plastic "film" like polyurethane, but you can't have any oil in the wood underneath. Sometimes you can't get all the oil out of the wood, even when you sand it. The advantage of polyurethane is that it's more resistant to spills, but the downside is the fact that you have to resand the floor if it ever gets scuffed. Your floor won't last as long if you have to resand the entire thing every time you want to refresh the finish.

I've just read that there are oil-based polyurethane finishes, but they aren't often used on wood floors. I've only encountered water based polyurethane and in my experience it isn't very durable to scuffing. My guess is that's what the OP has.

Here's an anecdote: My cherry wood dining room table has a polyurethane finish on it. One day I accidentally left a bag with a tiny bottle of oil based insect repellant on the table, not realizing it had a little leak. Imagine my shock when I found a huge hole eaten into the polyurethane finish because something in the insect repellant acted as a solvent. Now I have to get the entire table stripped and refinished. This would never have happened with a traditional oil based finish.

Here's a great resource on all the different types of finishes:


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