Hardwood Floor Repair: Repair Or Reinstall, Which Is Right For You?

You love your new hardwood floors. And who wouldn’t? They’re beautiful, they enhance your home, they match everything, they’re easy to clean, and, for the most part, they’re incredibly durable. Until they aren’t. Sure, they’ll stand up to lots of small nicks and scratches, but now something bigger has happened. You can’t ignore it or just rub it out with your cleaning solution. So, what do you do? Do you redo the floors and reinstall, or can you just repair it? The good news is that you have options!

When it comes to hardwood floor repair, your course of action mostly depends on your budget and what has happened to your floor. The first thing to do is to determine the extent of the problem with the floor. For example, a dent is an impression in the wood floor that caused some of the material to be removed. This usually happens when you try to move something really heavy, like a piano or a table. A scratch, on the other hand, is an imperfection on the surface of the floor that can usually be removed by buffing or polishing the wood.

For smaller fixes, you can try using a runner or area rug to hide the imperfection or sand down the area and re-stain or finish it. Even if you just want to change up the look, if you have a lighter wood, you can always use a darker stain or finish to match your aesthetics. There are also finishes you can apply to your flooring that don’t require sanding beforehand. They can give your floor a new shine without plunging into the complicated process of sanding and re-staining your flooring or enlisting the help of professional contractors.

So, before full-blown panic mode sets in, let’s explore your repair options.


Sometimes, your floor isn’t actually harmed; it just needs to be refreshed. Refinishing your hardwood can provide that freshness without all of the cost of actually replacing your floors. Even with minor damage, a refinish can make your floors look much better. 

When you want to give your floors a facelift without having to spend major money, refinishing is probably your best bet. Just keep in mind, you can only refinish a floor so many times before it loses the overall helpful effect. For engineered wood floors, you can probably only do this once or twice because the layer of real wood is much thinner. For solid hardwood, you can probably sand it and refinish it 6 or 7 times before you’ve exhausted the life of the planks.

If you’ve noticed that your dog’s blunt nails have accidentally managed to leave a substantial gouge in your hardwood floors, it probably isn’t the end of the world. Wood putty is an especially useful material in times like these, and you can use it to fill in gouges on your floor. It’s often available in most hardwood stores in a variety of colors for different types of woods and stains. You’ll want to try and match your floor’s color as closely as possible, so we recommend bringing along a scrap piece of your floor’s wood to the store for comparison.

Putty is putty, so the application is remarkably simple. Just use your finger to apply it and pack it tightly into the gouge. You can wipe away the excess and let the putty set. Then either leave it alone or sand it, stain it, and cover the area with a new coat of protection like polyurethane. And there you go, an easy fix!

Alternatively, you can try a more complicated repair process, but we’ll warn you, it may or may not work as intended. The first step is to sand the surrounding area to remove the polyurethane coating already on the area that has been dented. Then, use pieces of white cotton and put them in the gouge. Put your iron on the highest setting and set it on the cotton for approximately 5 minutes. Remove the iron and check to see if the steam has improved the appearance of the dent. If not, repeat the process. The fibers of the wood will soak up the moisture from the steam and expand with the heat to hopefully regain their original shape.

You might need to repeat the process a few times in order to supply your flooring with enough moisture to expand properly. Once the dent is gone, leave it to dry before sanding the area once more with a fine grit and then applying a protective coat over the top.

Another problem that may arise is that you’ve finally become annoyed with how squeaky your floors are. That often happens after your house settles, or your flooring has dealt with humidity changes, and the boards have grown or shrunk. Your sub-flooring may also be loose and causing the squeaks as you walk across the boards. Don’t panic; there are ways of checking and fixing this particular problem.

If you can get into a basement or crawl space underneath the problem floor, you can pinpoint exactly where the squeaks are coming from and then put a thin wooden shim between the joist and subfloor. Just make sure the shim is fully covered in carpenter’s glue first. By filling that gap, you can remove the give of your floor and hopefully stop the squeaking.

If you can’t get underneath the floors, you’ll have to be careful when doing any repairs so that you do not damage the floor’s finish. If you drill a small pilot hole and fill it with wood putty that matches your flooring and then sand off the excess putty, that can also help reduce the sounds. Another option is to sweep talcum powder between the floorboards to muffle the squeaks.


However, despite this wide array of handy tips and tricks for repairing, sometimes the damage is just too extensive to be repaired. It’s tempting to try and find a way to avoid having to pay for all new flooring, plus labor and installation, but somethings just can’t be maneuvered around. So, when do you have to call it quits, bite the bullet, and reinstall?

•   if you have excessive water damage to your floors

•   if the floor has suffered significant damage

•   if you’re renovating and moving walls

•   if the subfloor has deteriorated

•   if you currently have a dark wood floor and want a lighter color

•   if you’ve already refinished your floors a few times

•   if you want to change the direction of the planks

•   if you need the change to be done quickly

•   if you want to change the species of wood for your floors

If you do choose to reinstall, you can choose everything to your exact specifications and be sure that it’ll last a lot longer than a simple fix or refinishing the planks. It may cost a small fortune, but it’s a good long-term investment for your home. Depending on what has happened to your old floors and if there’s any damage underneath to the foundations that needs to be repaired, it may actually end up saving you time and money to go through with the full reinstall. It will give your contractor a chance to check your house for foundational problems or other aspects that might need help or not be up to code.

If you choose to reinstall, contact Hardwood Bargains about getting premium hardwood flooring in the styles you want at prices you’ll love. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face when you find the flooring of your dreams that fits your budget. It’s a flooring dream come true!  





Leave a Reply