Though laminate wood flooring offers plenty of durability and aesthetic value at a fraction of the cost of real wood, the old tricks -- namely, sanding down and sealing or buffing -- won't work when dastardly scratches show up. Because of the way laminate is constructed, surface scratches occur on the clear top layer and the photographic, wood-look layer just below. The trick to fighting scratches isn't removal, however. It's concealment. While you can't unscratch the past, you do have a handful of options for easing these eyesores, each of which saves you from having to replace a plank or section of your floor.
The Repair Kit Route
Off-the-shelf laminate repair kits, available at most brick-and-mortar and online hardware stores, are perhaps the most easily accessible way to remedy laminate scratches. These kits often feature an oil-based filler putty, which evens out the surface of deep scratches, pits and dings, and a coloring pen to match the dried putty to your home's particular shade of wood laminate.
Alongside traditional repair kits, colored filling pencils do the trick for light, shallow scratches. These pencils come in various wood-colored hues. To use them, you simply clean the floor thoroughly, allow the surface to dry, and pencil in the affected area.
Filling sticks feature a similar application method, but they allow you to blend shades together for a more accurate color match. These heftier products also fill in slightly deeper scratches than thinner filling pencils, typically up to about 1/8 inch deep.
A Nutty Tip
For very light scratches in wood laminate -- those that haven't penetrated through to the photo layer -- you might be able to skip the hardware store in favor of a quick trip to the grocery. Crack open a large walnut and vigorously rub the white, meaty part of the nut into the scratch with a buffing motion until it visibly fades, then wipe away any remaining residue with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. The nut's natural oils help smooth out small irregularities in the protective top coat of many common laminate floors.
To minimize wear, keep welcome mats at all entrances, as dirt and grit lead to surface-level scratches. Slip padded floor protectors underneath the legs of your furniture, and make sure your pets' nails are neatly trimmed.
Regular cleaning with laminate floor cleaner and a soft terrycloth or microfiber mop goes a long way in warding off scratches, as sand, dirt and debris left unattended creates abrasions. While repair kits and home remedies offer low-hassle solutions, preventing scratches from happening in the first place is far more effective than any repair kit money can buy.