It's easy to love hardwood floors. Wood is naturally beautiful and full of charm, providing not just texture but color to any room. It's easy to clean, but most importantly, it gives any space sense of long-lasting quality. Hardwood floors can last for centuries if cared for properly, adding value and a sense of integrity to your home.
But, of course, things happen. Furniture gets scraped, things get dropped, and kids and pets can, well, be kids and pets, and hardwood floors can eventually become scratched. While it's important to maintain and refinish floors when they lose their luster, you can easily attack specific scratches and spots when your floors are otherwise in great shape. Here are five ideas for some unexpected-but-effective DIY solutions without needing to use any special equipment or hire a refinisher.
1. Color It In! You can buy specialty wood fill sticks at the hardware store, but they're essentially just colored wax. Do you know what else is colored wax? Crayons. If your scratch is shallow and you simply want to hide the marring of the finish, select a similar color crayon and lightly pass it along the scratch. The wax will fill the scratch, and the color will help blend in with the wood. You can also try an eyebrow pencil if you have a matching color. Buff lightly with a soft cloth to finish.
2. Pantry Staple Polish - Combine two parts of olive oil with one part lemon juice (such as one tablespoon olive oil to one and a half teaspoons lemon juice) and shake or whisk to combine. You can also use white vinegar in place of the lemon, but the citrus smells much nicer, and gives your home that "just cleaned" scent. Apply a generous amount to any scratches, then wipe the scratch and surrounding area with a scrubbing motion. Continue polishing until you can no longer see the scratch. The oil wets the wood fibers, causing them to swell and fill in the gap, and the acid in the lemon juice pulls out any dirt. Come back in 24 hours and remove any excess polish. Try putting a colander over the area -- it prevents anyone from walking on the spot while still allowing moisture to escape.
3. Fill Scratches with Nuts - For light scratches, you can rub dried raw walnut or pecan meat on a scratch to conceal it. The natural color of the nut will help the scratch to blend in with the rest of your floor, though any gouge or dents will still be present. This works best for lighter woods. Be sure to use nuts from the grocery store -- fresh walnuts (from a tree, for instance) contain too many tannins and will stain the wood.
4. Aquaphor - Aquaphor is a lotion meant to help heal burns, scrapes, and scratches in skin, but it can also help cure light scratches in wood floors. Simply rub a thin coat on the scratch and allow it to penetrate for 24 hours. The next day, wipe away any excess with a damp cloth, and buff to blend it in the wood. Since their ingredients are similar, consider trying Vaseline as well.
5. Wax - Furniture wax can help to blend in a scratch in waxed floors. If your floors are particularly light colored -- such as natural maple or oak -- you can simply cover the scratch with wax, such as paste wax or even a white candle. If you know your floors are waxed, this is a simple, easy fix. If it dulls the wood or makes it look worse, just heat the wax with a hair dryer and wipe up to remove.