How to repair stains and scratches on waxed floors

Accidents happen, and even a small scratch or stain can leave a waxed floor open to further damage or deep soiling. Here are some tips that will help you repair and prevent damage to your floors.

How to repair stains and scratches on waxed floors

Dealing with accidents

  • To remove shallow scratches from a waxed wood floor, buff the area lightly with a piece of super-fine (#0000) steel wool, rubbing with the grain of the wood. Once the scratches have been sanded out, apply two coats of paste wax, buffing each coat with a soft, clean cloth. Or try applying a commercial touch-up stain.
  • To remove an alcohol stain from a waxed hardwood floor, rub it with silver polish or an ammonia-dampened cloth. Wipe away the residue, allow the area to dry thoroughly, then rewax.
  • Moisten dried food or milk spills with a damp cloth. Let the moisture soak in to soften the caked-on material, then gently wipe the stain away with a clean, damp cloth. Rub dry, and, if the cleaned area looks dull, rewax and polish to match the rest of the floor.
  • Remove white spots or water stains by putting a little paste wax on them. Rub the area with a piece of #0000 steel wool, following the grain, and buff to a shine. If this fails to restore the surface, sand very lightly, clean with #00 steel wool and mineral spirits and let dry. Finally, stain the bare area to match, apply wax and buff the spot to its original finish.
  • To remove black heel marks, start with a piece of steel wool that's been dipped in wood floor cleaner for that finish. Gently rub the heel mark, always working with the grain of the wood. Finally, let the floor dry completely and, if necessary, rewax and hand-buff the area to a shine.
  • Burns on wood floors may not be as bad as they look. Most floors have a fairly tough protective finish, so the burn is often only on the surface and can be rubbed away with a damp sponge or cloth or very fine steel wool. However, if the burn has etched deeply into the wood, moisten a piece of fine steel wool in a mild solution of soap and water; using a circular motion, rub the burned area until the charred wood fibres are removed. Then rub the area with fine sandpaper. Apply some matching touch-up stain, wax and hand-buff with a clean cloth.
  • Rules of thumb: the sooner you treat stains, the better; and always work from the outside to the centre.

Preventative measures

  • Wipe up spills immediately because moisture warps wood. Be particularly wary of alcohol, which eats through protective wax quickly.
  • Place rubber or plastic casters under the narrow legs of furniture to prevent gouging. Or use stick-on fabric protectors, available in different sizes.
  • Protect against midday sun, which can discolour and fade floors, by closing curtains and blinds or hanging sheer drapes.
  • Use glazed ceramic or plastic coasters under planters; water can soak through terra cotta coasters and ruin the wood underneath. Move planters periodically to be sure there are no rings.

Accidents will happen, but permanent damage can be avoided. Act quickly and consider these tips the next time your waxed floors are damaged to help keep them clean and scratch-free.

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