Laminate floors are made to be durable in high-traffic areas and require very little maintenance. However, even with normal wear and tear, scratches will occur from time to time. The easiest fix for a scratch in a laminate floor is a wax crayon. Flooring and hardware stores sell wax crayons manufactured specifically for this purpose. The crayons come in a variety of shades to match the color of your laminate flooring. However, we have found that a standard children’s crayon works in a pinch.
If the scratch is too deep for the crayon fix, floor putty can be used. Floor putty (e.g., Kampel’s FloorFil) is also available in a variety of hues. Most laminate floor manufacturers sell crayons and putty that match their product and these can be found at hardware or flooring stores. Some laminate floor repair products can also be found in supercenters (e.g., Wal-Mart and Target); however, these stores typically stock only one or two basic colors from one company. A light wood stain covered by two layers of varnish might also hide the scratch on some floors, but will not fill it. And care must be taken that the color matches, so practice on an extra piece of laminate first to ensure color compatibility.
A couple of tips: In order to avoid two trips to the store, it is a good idea to take a section of the laminate floor with you and match the color in-store before you buy. Also, we have found that the crayon works best for small to mid-size scratches because the putty can dry and crumble, especially in high-traffic areas.
To remove the scratch with a wax crayon, first remove any dust and debris from the scratched area. Next, simply color in the scratch. Finally, buff with a clean dry cloth to remove the crayon from the area surrounding the scratch.
To repair the scratch with putty, remove any dust and debris from the scratched area. Apply enough putty to fill in the damaged area, and then smooth with a putty knife. If you don’t have a putty knife, a popsicle stick works almost as well. Wipe off any excess with a damp clean cloth. Use a dry cloth to thoroughly dry any surrounding areas. Leave the area alone for one hour to allow proper curing.
If the damage is larger than ½”, then it might be necessary to replace the entire plank. A scratch of such a large size will typically not hold the putty even if in an area with relatively minor traffic.
Some scratches are too superficial for the putty or wax crayon to work effectively. In this case, Sirena Van Schaik recommends using ScratchAway. This is an easy-to-use spray-on product for small surface scratches in laminate and wood flooring. To use, simply spray the scratched area and buff with a clean dry cloth.
Preventative Maintenance: It is always easier and more cost-effective to avoid a repair. To maintain a laminate floor, simply dust and occasionally wipe with a damp mop. Be sure to only use the cleaning solutions recommended by the manufacturer, as some cleaners may deteriorate the protective finish, making it more prone to scratches, wear and discoloration. Also, use floor protectors on furniture to keep the floor from being scratched. If necessary, using a rubber mallet, reposition any sections that may have slid out of place before the exposed edges chip.
Consumer Tip: Over-stock or discount stores sometimes have great deals on laminate flooring, but usually only on the lower-end products. If you are not in a hurry, you could save a substantial amount by shopping around. We happened to buy the flooring for our family room from a home supply chain that was going out of business and saved a bundle. Also, save your extra planks after the initial install is complete – you might need to replace one or more planks in the future, and it is unlikely that you will find the style/color to match years after your initial buy.
American Technology, Inc.; FlooorFil: Laminate floor repair / filler for nicks, gouges, cracks and seams; www.americantechnologyinc.com
Sirena Van Schaik; Repairing Scratches in Laminate Flooring; www.ezinearticles.com