Versatile and affordable laminate flooring provides an attractive alternative to wood, tile and carpet flooring. Though laminate floors resist moisture and tend to hold their own even in high-traffic areas, scratches can leave unsightly marks. You can remedy certain scratches by buffing them out of laminate flooring, but other marks require more complicated measures.
Commercial and Homemade Solutions
Flooring supply companies offer spray-on, buff-out scratch treatments for shallow, surface-level scratches that have only penetrated the laminate's clear finish, not the textured or colored part of the flooring. For scratches that have completely penetrated the finish, online and brick-and-mortar flooring and hardware stores offer laminate repair kits. These kits often include putty-like latex repair paste, a putty knife and a buffing cloth. For a home remedy, shoe polish of the same color as the scratched floor often does the trick.
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How to Buff Laminate Flooring
Clean your laminate floor thoroughly with water and a sponge, and allow it to dry completely before attempting to buff out any scratches. For spray-on scratch treatments, simply spray the scratched surface with the treatment, and buff the liquid out of the laminate with a clean lint-free cloth. For repair kits, you may need to mix one of the included pigments with the paste before applying the mixture to match your floor — unless you have a pre-colored paste.
Spread the paste evenly into the scratch with a putty knife, wipe away the excess paste, and then buff the area with a clean lint-free cloth. If using the shoe polish remedy, simply rub in and buff out as you would when shining a shoe. Use smooth, circular motions, applying a light to moderate amount of pressure as you buff the laminate floor.
If your laminate floor has sustained a large number of scratches, you can use a floor buffer with a buffing attachment to bring back the shine. You can even sand out some of these scratches by "screening and recoating," which, as Pete's Hardwood Floors explains, is a process whereby you fit the buffer with a fine-grit sanding screen, use it to lightly etch the existing finish and then apply a touch-up finish. Be careful, because you don't want to sand through the finish, or you'll ruin the flooring.
Alternatives to Buffing Laminates
You can remedy some laminate scratches with touch-up pencils or crayons that are available at flooring and hardware stores. Exceptionally deep or large scratches may call for the removal and replacement of the affected area. This often-difficult process varies greatly per type of laminate — from glueless to self-adhering — and may entail the removal of single or multiple laminate planks.
You can do this job yourself, but you may prefer to consult a flooring professional. Replacing and matching sections of heavily scratched laminate is a job that calls for a good eye and skill with a circular saw, although sometimes you can do it by disassembling the floor, as recommended by Shaw Floors.
Preventing Scratches and Damage
Avoid the need to buff out scratches by taking simple maintenance measures. Prevent small scratches and nicks caused by day-to-day wear with daily maintenance, such as vacuuming, sweeping and dust mopping. Use entrance mats to prevent scratches caused by excess dirt and debris. Place felt pads under furniture legs, and avoid dragging heavy objects across the floor.