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7 fast fixes for scratched, burned and squeaky floors

December 17, 2010 , , , , , ,

In the home — as in life — it’s often the little things that matter. And it’s amazing how many small structural things can go wrong around your house.

Whether it’s the front-door lock that won’t let you into your own home or the cracked window that won’t keep the cold out, small household problems can have a big effect. For most of these, there’s no need to call for repairs; the solution lies in tapping your ingenuity and using a few common household materials in innovative ways.

Even when it seems that the roof is falling in or the floor is opening up beneath you, there are often simple ways to solve larger problems on your own. Here are some quick fixes for your floor troubles.

Blemish ban

That wood table was heavier than you thought, and dragging it across the room has left a nice long abrasion in your pretty wood floor.

The quick fix
The fix depends on the type of floor, says Rusty Swindoll, assistant technical director with the National Wood Flooring Association.

“If the floor is finished with wax, fine surface scratches can be concealed with a liberal amount of wood-floor paste wax, rubbed in with the grain using a fine-grain steel-wool pad,” he says. “Remove the excess wax and buff the surface lightly with a cloth.”

But, he says, “If the floor is finished with a surface finish (either water- or oil-based), use the meat from a pecan or walnut that has been crushed, rubbing it over the surface scratches to camouflage the scratch.”

Healing the floor

Healing the floor (© Popular Mechanics)

The last thing you need in a busy kitchen is another tripping hazard, which is exactly what that blister in your resilient flooring has become.

The quick fix
Puncture the blister with a sharp object, such as a small nail, and use a glue syringe to shoot flooring adhesive under the surface of the blister. Cover the blister with several heavy bricks or other weights and leave for 24 hours or until the epoxy is fully cured.

Sharing squares

You just learned the hard way that dragging a heavy metal garbage pail can ruin a vinyl kitchen tile.

The quick fix
Ideally, you thought ahead when the floor was installed and put aside a few extra tiles. If not, you can scavenge a replacement tile from underneath the refrigerator or stove. This will be harder if the tiles are light-colored because the floor will be more faded than the replacement tile.

Remove the old tile by heating it with an iron set on low until you can pry it up with a putty knife. Remove the warm adhesive, apply new adhesive, and lay down the replacement tile. Weight it down with bricks or other heavy objects until the adhesive cures.

Sound off

Sound off (© Popular Mechanics)

Every home seems to have that one area of wood floor that squeaks, and yours is driving you to distraction.

The quick fix
Squeaks almost always occur in the subfloor, not the wood floor itself, says Ed Korczak, executive director of the National Wood Flooring Association.

“The best solution is to secure the subfloor from below by driving screws into the subfloor of the area that is squeaking,” he says. “Be sure the screws are short enough so that they don’t break the surface of the face of the wood floor.”


Your resilient flooring isn’t resilient to small scratches and scuffs.

The quick fix
Rub the scratch with the edge of a quarter. If the blemish is still apparent, rub a tiny amount of paste wax on the surface and buff it with a clean soft cloth.

Square shooter

Square shooter (© Popular Mechanics)

So now you know: Dropping a cast-iron pan really will crack a ceramic tile.

The quick fix
Remove the grout around the tile carefully using a grout saw — this is not a mechanical saw but a simple abrasive tool that you run along grout lines. Then chip out the tile with a small cold chisel.

Once you’ve removed all the tile pieces, try to remove as much of the adhesive as possible. Lay down a bed of new adhesive and press the new tile in place. Grout around the tile and let it sit for 24 hours before walking on it.

Slow burn

Slow burn (© Popular Mechanics)

Uncle Bill finally went home, taking his stinking stogie with him, but he left behind a nice burn mark in your carpet.

The quick fix
First, discreetly clip away damaged fibers with a sharp pair of scissors; then, lightly scrub with a scouring pad to remove the darkened tips of the carpet fibers. Vacuum to remove the singed particles.

For deeper or more serious burns, you’ll need to patch the carpet. Unless you have a remnant from when the carpet was installed, this will mean finding an area of carpet that is rarely seen, such as in a closet or underneath a piece of furniture, and removing a patch.

Use a utility knife and jar lid to cut a neat circle around the burn mark, and cut an identical circle out of the donor carpet section. Use double-edged tape or carpet adhesive to set the patch firmly in place.

I found most of this content in an article in Popular Mechanics online and then adapted it for blog form.  I really enjoyed the article and wanted to share it because floors take such a beating in our homes and if they don’t look good then the whole rooms suffers.


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