How to Prevent Scratches on Wood Floors

In 2021, American homeowners patiently waited for the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic to dissipate so that they could start working on long-awaited remodeling projects. According to an online report published by the National Association of Realtors, one of the most interesting trends observed by renovation contractors was a renewed affinity for hardwood flooring. The lockdown and social restriction measures of 2020 made property owners realize that home is definitely a place where the combination of serenity and style is conducive to well-being, and this explains why hardwood floors are being preferred over other materials.

Hardwood is a material that will never go out of style; however, a few interior design trends are making installations a bit different. One particular trend is centered on the quality and appearance of the planks. In the past, hardwood finishing used to be more colorful than what homeowners are looking for these days, and this is why select-grade planks are the main sellers. There is a preference towards minimalism, which means that the color variation is kept in check while the grain patterns are more uniform with sparse knotting.

Modern planks tend to be longer and more uniform; this trend provides a visual effect that can make a space look larger. As for the finishing, interior designers are seeing a return to more natural appearances that can be achieved with sanding and light-brown staining on species such as oak and walnut. Not all remodeling projects in 2021 will consist of new installation; in fact, we are seeing active interest in refinishing so that existing boards can sport a cleaner and more natural look.

With all the above in mind, we can’t ignore the concerns of many homeowners who often resort to materials other than hardwood because of the potential for scratching and denting. Refinishing can take care of such issues, but nobody wants to be doing this on a frequent basis. Visible scratches lead homeowners to believe that hardwood is not a durable material, which is not true at all; nonetheless, we can’t deny that heavily scratched planks are detrimental to the appearance of natural hardwood. Following are some recommendations homeowners can follow to prevent their beloved hardwood floors from becoming overly scratched:

Reasons Your Hardwood Floors End Up Getting Scratched

Before we get to the more technical aspects of hardwood floor protection, which includes coating and special finishing, let’s review the most common causes of surface scratches:

  • Domestic pets such as cats and dogs.
  • Shoes with hard and sharp soles; these would include fancier high-heeled shoes such as stilettos, but let’s not forget about athletic footwear equipped with cleats.
  • Heavy furniture pieces.
  • Accidents such as glassware that shatters upon impact.
  • Improper or infrequent cleaning.

Homeowners who are mindful of what can produce nicks, scratches, and dents will have an easier time doing what is necessary to prevent them. As to why you should be doing this, the answer is simple: Prevention is an important aspect of floor maintenance. If your hardwood floors are made with exotic planks such as Santos mahogany from Brazil, you will want to protect your investment.

How to Prevent Hardwood Scratching by Pets

Pet owners may not be aware of the favor they are doing for their animal companions by providing them with hardwood floors. Both canines and felines prefer hardwood over all other flooring materials except for bamboo and hemp, which are in a category similar to natural wood. Dogs are more likely to scratch wood flooring than cats because of the way their claws grow, but this can be minimized with trimming, which is something you can learn to do on your own by watching the right YouTube videos.

As for felines, their scratching would have to be deliberate if they find a spot on your hardwood floor where they can sharpen their claws. A couple of scratching posts will take care of this issue, but you can also place rugs on the spots that have gotten their attention.

Wear Soft-Soled Shoes Around the House

Walking barefoot on smooth hardwood floors is a treat that can help prevent scratches, but only if you make a commitment to keep surfaces clean. The hard and harsh-soled footwear we listed above should not be worn on wooden floors, so you will want to talk other members of your household into not wearing such shoes around the house; this should not be difficult, but convincing guests may be another story. Even if you only wear sandals and tennis shoes, you will want to prevent the accumulation of grit and dirt, which can also cause scratching, by sweeping and mopping frequently.

How Heavy Furniture Can Scratch Hardwood Floors

Tables, couches, chairs, sofas, bookcases, and many other pieces of furniture can easily scratch hardwood when they are dragged across floors, and this can happen even if they mostly stay in the same spot. With a heavy sofa, for example, dents and gouging can form under the legs over time simply by the shifting of those who sit and rest on it.

Make it a point to always lift heavy furniture instead of trying to slide it across hardwood flooring, but you can also use rugs, pads made from cork, or furniture coasters to this effect. In fact, making these protective items a permanent feature of your furniture will be even better in terms of protecting the floors.

The Problem With Infrequent Cleaning

You should never underestimate the power of keeping your hardwood floors clean. Constant sweeping of hardwood flooring is the first step towards maintenance; if you fail to do this, scratching will invariably happen because the accumulation of dirt, grit, and grime will at some point become exposed to friction. In other words, walking on dirty hardwood floors can result in scratching even if you are barefoot. Needless to say, mopping and waxing are also highly recommended, but sweeping by itself can go a long way when it comes to avoiding scratches.

Enjoy the Protection of Advanced Coating

Depending on the kind of finishing you choose for your hardwood planks, you may not have to worry too much about dents and scratches. Starting with plain old floor wax, there are various coating options that can provide optimum protection. In some cases, such as those involving engineered wood, the finishing includes advanced coating formulas made with urethane and other compounds that will resist friction.

As previously mentioned, the current trend of minimalist hardwood flooring calls for limited finishing for a more natural look, but this may not be the right decision if you plan on installing planks in a high-traffic area. If this is the case, you will always have the option of frequent wax applications; should you have pets or children, we recommend organic beeswax or carnauba, which can be more expensive but worth the investment in terms of health.

Even though some staining formulas offer some level of coating and sealing, the anti-scratching protection they provide is minimal. Polyurethane coatings are better in this regard, but you must be mindful of their higher volatile organic compound levels. The coatings we use for new installation or complete refinishing with maximum protection are not sold at your local home improvement store because of their harmful fumes, but they are ideal for homeowners who wish to make their planks look great for many years.


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