Many of my customers in Westchester County ask me how to prevent scratching in hardwood flooring, so I thought I would provide some tips.
First, let me caveat this by saying that ALL hardwood scratches. It’s just a matter of time. Anyone that tells you the hardwood won’t scratch isn’t telling the truth.
Here are some tips to MINIMIZE the scratches and prolong the life of your hardwood. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By far, the #1 culprit of scratches is dirt/grit, so do whatever you can to minimize this.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
1. Take off your shoes! It is amazing how large an impact this can have on your floor. I just went to a repeat customer’s home…a rental. We installed the hardwood over 2 yrs ago and it looks like the job was done yesterday. That is the impact that removing your shoes has…even with renters! To make life simpler, add a plastic or rubber bin by the door to make it convenient for you and your guests. Maybe even add a bench near the door.
2. Add entry mats at the door. Water (and snow/salt) are the worst culprits and the areas by the door tend to wear down the fastest because of this. Get entrance mats – one for outside and one for inside the door. (and if you have an overhang above the front door that also helps). You can buy some outdoor area mats here on wayfair.com. I sorted them to select options that are under $50 and the most popular ones on their site.
3. Add felt pads to the furniture, and get extras. The Felt Pads can make a big difference and they are especially important for chairs that move the most. Most people do not move the heavier items such as couches that often. I advise my customers to buy extra felt pads as they tend to fall off often especially on chairs that are moved frequently. You can buy the felt pads on Amazon through this link: Felt pads.
4. Avoid chairs with rollers. These really scratch up floors as dirt and grit tends to get caught in them. Either avoid them, or get mats for under these areas as they will destroy your hardwood floors. If you must use rollers, consider buying these Office Chair Caster Wheels – Ideal for hardwood floors on Amazon as they are better for hardwood floors.
6. Avoid spiky shoes, stilettos, and cleats. These can dig into woods and cause scratches. And, of course, avoid dragging and sliding furniture as these can have the same impact.
7. Consider area rugs for areas where chairs are moved often. These can be especially handy for dining rooms or other areas where chairs are frequently moved. Area rugs will also reduce the noise. Also, you can use a plastic mat under rolling chairs (check out this one on Amazon: Clear office chair mat for Hardwood floors.)
And, for kitchens, consider this anti-fatigue mat as it serves 2 purposes: 1) makes it easier on your feet, 2) prevents splashing water getting on the floor. Anti-Fatigue Mat for Stand up desks, kitchens and Garages – Designed to Relieve Foot, Knee and Back Pain.
8. Clean the OUTSIDE of your house.
Since dirt, grit and pebbles that get caught in your shoes can be the biggest culprit of scratches, periodically clean and sweep the outside, especially in key entry areas – the front entrance, garage, back porch. Remember if you have pets, to clean up the areas where they go out and in. They don’t usually take their shoes off (LOL), so a little bit of elbow work will go a long way.
9. Make sure you use area rug pads. Area rugs add comfort, style and warmth to your room. They can also help you reduce scratches as well. But, it’s critical that you have an area rug underneath. If you don’t, many carpets will scratch your floors (from the backing). So get an area rug pad.
Area rugs provide many benefits: 1) they reduce scratches, 2) they keep area rug in place, and 3) they will actually help make your area rug last longer and 4) they will make your area rug softer on your feet. Here’s the one I recommend.
10. Plan B – If you already have a scratch, consider trying one of these Minwax wood stain markers. They come in several colors including dark walnut, provincial, golden oak, early american, cherry, red oak and red mahogany.
If you have pre-finished wood, definitely keep some spare pieces, just in case they are needed for later. You never know if you will have some sort of water damage (e.g. from leaky toilet on the floor above), pet accidents, plants, furniture scraping when moving items, or accidents from kids (or grand kids).
10. Get a vacuum designed for hardwood floors. Yes, so many people make this mistake. They don’t realize that most vacuums are designed for carpets. And, these vacuums can actually scratch your hardwood floors! You can read more about it this articles: What’s the best vacuum for hardwood floors. Here’s the one I recommend: BISSELL Hardwood Floor Expert 1161, and it’s not expensive.
I get a lot of questions about pets and hardwood. Generally, most cats do not cause issues with their claws (although sometimes kitty litter can scratch up the floor so be careful to clean that up). There seems to be more issues with dogs claws and for sure trimming nails will usually help. I’ve also read somewhere that there are some sort of doggie nail covers, but most pet lovers would prefer to leave the pets alone. You can read more here on types of hardwood flooring that are best for pets.
Does adding an extra coat of polyurethane help prevent scratches? Well this depends. If your hardwood is pre-finished, then, no this will actually make your floor more susceptible to scratches (as it will sand off some of the aluminum oxide) and it will void your manufacturer warranty. If however, you have hardwood that has been finished on site (i.e. it was sanded in the home), then, an extra coat can help reduce scratching.
BONUS TIP: I generally recommend to my customers that they do a screen and recoat 3- 4 years after they’ve had their floors refinished. This is preventative maintenance and should be done before you have scratches through the color. This is a method of adding an additional coat of poly for protection. You can read more about it here: What is buffing? How can a screen and recoat help your hardwood floors?
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. Due to popular demand, I’m now offering phone consultations as well.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
I wrote this e-book to help new home buyers make smart decisions when looking for homes with hardwood floors…or looking to buy a home and then add hardwood. I’ve packaged all of my best tips into this book and hope it will help you make smarter choices in your flooring choices and in buying a home that can support high quality floors.
How to prevent scratches in your hardwood flooring – Westchester NY