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Q: Can you give me a few tips on managing with scratches, stains and general maintenance for my new hardwood floors?

A: You already know that that hardwood floors increase the value of your home, and in the same way , if your wood floors are damaged they could actually detract from your home’s overall value, which is why you want to be sure to tackle any scratches, stains or other issues with your flooring with care. 

Scratches, scuffs and gouges are the most common problems wood floor owners face. Squeaking can also be an annoying issue.

Determine the Damage: Before you can begin repairing, you need to determine the extent of the damage. If the stain or scratch has not penetrated the wood, you’re dealing with a surface problem, these are generally easier to deal with. If the stain or scratch has penetrated into the wood the fix is bit more involved but still not too difficult.

Touch Up Surface Scratches: Surface scratches can usually be repaired with touch-up kits made for urethane finishes. You can find these at just about any wood flooring retailer or online.

Removing Stains: Removing surface stains depends on the type of stain it is. Most commonly you’ll be dealing with water and pet stains. For these, use a wood floor cleaner developed specifically for urethane finishes to remove the stain. More stubborn stains may require additional scrubbing with the cleaner and a wood flooring scrub pad made for urethane floors.

Fixing Deeper Scratches: For scratches that have penetrated into the wood, you should be able simply wax the area until the scratch is no longer visible. You may need to sand the scratch first. Another option is to use a premixed wood filler after sanding the scratch down and seal it afterward. 

Scuff Marks: Scuff marks can be taken care by using steel wool to rub in the wax and then hand buffing the area. Just be careful when using something abrasive like steel wool on your wood floors, if you rub too hard you could cause more damage to the wood. 

Water Stains: For water stains, rub the spot with fine steel wool and then wax. If this doesn’t get the stain out completely, lightly sand the area with fine sandpaper, and clean it using steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner . Once the floor is dry, apply stain, wax it and then hand buff it.

Pet Stains: For penetrated pet stains, rub the spot with fine steel wool and wax. If this doesn’t get the stain out completely, lightly sand the area with fine sandpaper, and clean it using steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner . Once the floor is dry, apply stain, wax it and then hand buff it. If the stain is really stubborn, apply a household bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak for an hour. Rinse the floor with a damp cloth, wipe dry and smooth with fine sandpaper. Once again apply stain, wax it and hand buff it.

Regular maintenance can help prevent scratches and stains from penetrating into the wood. Be sure to vacuum and/or dry mop your wood flooring once a week. Be sure never to wax a floor that has been coated with a polyurethane finish. That would make it impossible to re-coat your wood floor in the future without first sanding it.

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