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What are the best methods to repair damage to an engineered wood floor? What about laminate and plastic-surfaced laminate floor repairs?

Our page top photo illustrates an engineered wood floor using a thick bamboo top layer. A scratch or gouge into this floor is repairable.

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How to Make Repairs to Damaged Engineered Wood Flooring

Damaged engineered hardwood floor needing repair - (C) Rawzlynd BrownQuestion: how can I best fix a hole in a engineered hardwood floor with brushed grain finish?

Hi there, I have a thin wood veneer engineered hardwood floor with deep wire brushed grain. Last night I dropped a chair and the leg of the chair made a bad hole in the floor.

The hole is deep enough that you can see the veneer is pushed in but you can also see pieces of plywood underneath. Do you have any tips on how to fix this?

I've watched a lot of videos on filling dents with wood filler, sanding and spot refinishing but the problem with this is, my floor has lots of texture I can't sand it.

Would my best bet be to fill it with the wood filler and try to replicate the wood grain texture?

The damaged area is about 1/2" x 1"

The chair also left a small white paint scuff before the hole. Is there any way to remove this from the textured floor without sanding?

Please email me if you can help me. Thank you in advance. - 2017/12/07

[Click to enlarge any image] This question and reply were posted originally at WOOD FLOOR ENGINEERED & SOLID

Reply: steps & alternatives for repairing damaged hardwood or engineered wood floors


I agree that using wood filler followed by sanding that scratches the surrounding floor area is likely to make the floor look worse than before.

Any primer on restoring historic wood flooring will give tips that can help restore modern wood floors as well. All restorers advise taking the most-gentle approach possible.

I've had success with several approaches to fixing damaged veneered / engineered wood floor that has a brushed-grain finish.

The use of a matching wood filler followed by light sanding followed by low-speed buffing by hand or with a drill powered buffer pad works best on a floor with a smooth surface.

I have on occasion used automobile re-finishing buffing compounds but even those require low buffer speed and a gentle touch to avoid damaging the surrounding floor.

For your wood-grained textured engineered hardwood floor there are other options between which you'd choose depending on how important is the perfection of the final, restored finish.

Solid maple flooring © Daniel FriedmanThe engineered wood floor shown here includes a top layer of wood glued to a hardboard core. Scratches that do not cut entirely throug this wood layer (about 1/8" thick) can usually be repaired.

If you are not sure what type of flooring you have installed, see WOOD FLOOR ENGINEERED & SOLID.

Removing the Paint-mar from a Floor Surface

First, try removing the white paint from the painted chair leg impact using a series of escalating approaches starting with the most-gentle. Try this series of paint mar removing steps, and stop when you're satisfied.

1. Water-detergent Scrub the paint mark gently with a plastic scrubby sponge and water or water and a drop of detergent. DO NOT over-scrub so as to create a larger area of removed pigment and do not use an aggressive steel scrubber as that will mar the surrounding surface.

2. Alcohol or odorless paint thinner Scrub the paint mark with a plastic scrubby sponge and odorless paint thinner or mineral spirits. This approach can remove both paint and shoe heel marks from most flooring without damaging it.

Watch out: Do not use lacquer thinner nor nail polish remover as those are likely to destroy the surrounding floor finish, thus creating a worse mess than before. Do not use alcohol if the wood is finished with a lacquer.

3. Mechanical scraping For thick paint deposits on wood floors, you may need to try removing the paint mark with a new, smooth-edged flexible putty knife or with a thin palette knife blade or thin screwdriver, working with care so as not to make deep gouges in the floor material below. Sometimes I soften the paint with steps 1 and 2 or even with gentle heat from a hair dryer. Do not over-heat the floor with a heat type paint remover gun as that will damage the surrounding floor surface.

Watch out: take care when using any sharp-edged or sharp-cornered tool to try to remove paint from a floor. If you do not keep the blade flat on the floor surface the corner of the blade will make more ugly gouges in the floor surface.

When you are satisfied that the paint has been sufficiently-removed from the floor surface clean the area gently with rubbing alcohol (isopropanol 70%) to remove any traces of paint thinner or detergent.

Sand & Stain Shallow Scratches in Wood or Engineered Wood Floors

For shallow gouges or stains in a wood or engineered wood floor and also for laminated wood floors in which the gouge has not penetrated the wood veneer you can clean the gouge, gently sanding it with 2oo then #400 sandpaper, planning to leave the gouge un-filled.

When the scratch or gouge has been cleaned, if it appears as a lighter area than the surrounding floor, use a cotton swab ("Q-tip") to carefully apply a matching liquid stain to the scratch. Using a stain that is a bit lighter than the original floor finish is a smart place to start.

Wipe off the stain immediately and assess your result. If the scratch is still too light, put stain on again, wipe it off of the surrounding floor surface, wait a minute, wipe the gouge and inspect again. Repeat this process until the filled-in stained scratch or gouge matches the surrounding floor.

Protect the area and let the stain dry 12-24 hours.

Watch out: before trying this stain approach be sure that the gouge or scratch surface is very smooth. If there are wood hairs in the scratch these will hold stain such that the stained area will appear darker than the surrounding floor. You will have to clean out some of the stain using odorless paint thinner or mineral spirits.

Watch out: it's better to wipe out stain sooner rather than later since leaving the stain in a gouge or scratch too long can result in the scratch color that is darker than the surrounding floor.

Use a close-match Wax Wood Filler to Match Damaged Engineered Wood Floors

Wax color matched sticks help repair wood floors, paneling, furniture (C) Daniel FriedmanFor a larger or deeper area of wood or engineered wood floor damage we try a color-matched floor putty or a wax-based flooring repair kit.

This approach is suitable for both real-wood and engineered real wood flooring repairs using a repair putty or wax filler, mixed to match the color of surrounding floor.

The two wood flooring repair wax products in my photo are shown atop a hickory hardwood tongue and groove floor that we installed in a New York home.

Check with the manufacturer of your particular floor, as that company may be able to provide wax filler sticks or stains that match your floor finish exactly.

The products shown in my photo are a Minwax Blend-Fil® pencil sold in a range of colors, and Putty-Stik wax repairs listed in the references below.

I have had success by taking care not to spread putty out of the hole or gouge

Sanding is not used with wax type damage repair kits and should not be necessary when working with hard-drying wood fillers either provided you take care to apply the filler carefully.

Use a smooth-edged flexible steel putty knife to apply the wax or putty filler to the hole in the floor. Put just enough filler on the knife end to fill the hole with only slight excess.

Apply the filler to the hole moving at an angle that is diagonal to the length of run of the floor board or gouge or hole.

After the damaged hole or gouge in the floor has been repaired, where a wax filler was used, buff the surface gently with a smooth dry cotton cloth.

Watch out: with wax based fillers, take care not to buff too hard, and don't use a power-buffer on the floor repair. Either of those approaches is likely to heat and remove the wax.

If you applied a hard-drying wood filler rather than a wax and if after it's dry the filler is raised above the floor surface, light sanding might be needed, but there is a risk of scratching the surrounding floor.

If you must sand, take great care to restrict any sanding to the very edges of the fill. I wrap 100x and then 200x grit sandpaper around the tip of a wooden tongue depressor and work to keep the sanding within the area of the filler.

Watch out: the solvent used in some wood putty products contains acetone and can mar surrounding wood surfaces. Avoid using a wood filler that contains an acetone solvent base.

Depending on the floor surface texture I have used the edge of a dull knife or similar tool to continue the lines of surrounding wood grain into the patch area. On some floor boards such as yours the spot can match well if it appears to be a wood knot. The color does not have to be exact.

Watch out: wax type wood flooring and gouge fillers will not survive heavy traffic on wood floors and if used in gouges or damage more than 1/4" wide may need to be repaired again from time to time unless you use a harder fill material.

For other floors imprinted with a deeper grain pattern one can fabricate a pattern imprinter that can be pressed into an area of wood filler. That's done by making a plaster cast of a left-over floor board surface. I don't try using the installed floor out of concern for marring the existing floor. In my opinion this approach is not worth the trouble except perhaps when restoring an historic artifact.

Use Melt-in or Burn-in Type Wood Fillers for Floor or Furniture Gouges

Burn-in wood fillers or melt-in wood fillers such as the Taylor Wood Doctor #911 use a heat-softened stick of color-matched material and an electric burn-in knife to soften, melt, and fill the wood filler material that bonds to the wood surface.

The damaged area surface is cleaned out and any wood fibers that protrude above the floor surface are cut away.

Then a burn-in repair color stick is selected to match the surrounding wood. The stick is used to press filler into the gouge or hole in the damaged floor.

An electrically-heated or butane-heated burn-in flooring repair knife that looks much like a wood chisel or like an Exacto knife is used to smooth the filler and remove excess material.

Typically a burn-in floor repair filler is also wet-sanded using 400-grit wet-dry sandpaper wrapped around a smooth-surfaced sanding block.

Watch out: in order to avoid damaging surrounding floor surfaces, take care to restrict the wet sanding to the area of repair with only slight feathering out to the surrounding wood.

By using a very find #400 sandpaper the sanding marks will be shallow enough that you can then buff out the repair using a buffing compound.

Epoxy for Small Holes in Wood Floors?

Use this approach when soundness of the wood floor surface is more important than a perfect match to surrounding floor area. Do not use this approach for plastic-veneer wood floor surfaces.

For very small areas of gouge or lost material and where the color still matches the surrounding floor I sometimes fill the spot with clear epoxy. That will leave a slightly glossy spot that can be roughened with your scrubby sponge or buffer once the epoxy is thoroughly dry.

Watch out: for other readers we want to make clear that while epoxy resins and other synthetic resins are popular in the flooring industry and while they’re used in many industrial coatings, never use epoxy on historic wooden floors or artifacts. The epoxy is durable but is so difficult to remove in the future (should that be necessary) that it is not used in those situations.

I prefer this approach for floor areas that are not in obvious view but I’ve used it with success on both wood and ceramic and clay tile floors in various situations.

Tips for making a small cut-out patch to fill a larger area of laminate floor damage

For still larger, deeper areas of damaged flooring I've used a utility knife to cut a patch out of a left-over length of original flooring, shaping the patch and shaving and tapering its edges until it fits perfectly into the existing damage area. I make the patch a bit thinner than the depth of the opening so that when I glue it in place with epoxy it will be flush with the finished surface.

Repairing low-cost plastic skin-covered laminate floors

Vinyl laminate flooring (C) D FriedmanJust below is a laminate floor product that provides a thin vinyl skin with a wood grain image. This particular flooring is produced by Home Legend™

Some lower-cost laminate floor products are made not out of real wood but rather a plastic laminate pre-printed pattern that is bonded to a fiberboard base.

None of the approaches above will work well on those floors because the laminated vinyl or plastic "skin" is very thin. If this floor is damaged by a scratch or gouge that cuts through the skin it is not really repairable.

But we might try to cut and remove the laminate skin from a left-over segment of the original flooring, gluing it in place in a cutout over the damaged area.

Plastic laminate floors that have been scuffed and marred might, after repair, be improved by a light spray of clear semi-gloss polyurethane.

The repair of plastic-laminate flooring is described separately at LAMINATE FLOOR DAMAGE REPAIR

Should you Try to Cut-and-Replace Damaged Engineered Wood Floor Boards?

Watch out: Unless you are experienced with very careful woodworking and floor repairs you should probably not not try cutting out and removing an actual section of engineered wood laminate flooring in general, as the clip together floor sections will be so badly damaged that getting a replacement board in place neatly is almost impossible except by the most-experienced restorer.

Solid wood plank floor boards can be cut and removed and replaced with matching wood by working with a drill, chisels, and an oscillating blade thin-kerf saw.

If you're determined to push past the warning above, the wood floor repair techniques, discussed in detail at WOOD FLOOR BOARD REPLACEMENT how to cut out and replace floor boards, can sometimes be used to replace real-wood engineered wood flooring if absolutely necessary.

But some gluing and jury-rigging will be needed to hold the replacement boards in place as the side and end joints of a snap together engineered wood floor cannot be left entirely in place if replacing a board out in the field of an exisiting floor.

Re-coating Areas of Damaged Wood Flooring

Where floor damage repair has left the repaired area with new wood or sanded surfaces that are dull you may need to apply a coating to the repaired area.

Watch out: do not use a spray or paint-on finish that is not chemically compatible with the existing floor finish. Otherwise you may find that the surrounding floor finish bubbles up or softens, creating a horrible mess. Water-based polyurethane and spray polyurethane are often safe but you may need to mask surrounding areas to protect against a matte finish that will show up in areas of over-spray.

Be sure to let any coating dry 12 hours or more. Polyurethane finishes continue to harden over at least 24 hours, so where I have worked hard on a floor repair I keep everyone off of the floor for at least 24 hours.

References & Products for Repairing Wood & Engineered Wood Flooring

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