How to Prevent Scratches and Dents on Hardwood Floors


Hardwood flooring is noted for its durability and when maintained well can last for decades. However, accumulating dents and scratches over the years is a common problem with wood, and while it does not render your floor unfit for use, it can be unsightly. The floor must then be sanded and refinished to repair surface damage. However, repeated sanding eventually makes floorboards too thin to use, necessitating their replacement. To increase your floor’s longevity, it is better to prevent scratches and dents in the first place which can be done by taking a few preventive measures.

Tips to Prevent Scratches and Dents

If your floor is already damaged, you will need to find ways to repair it. The following tips will prevent hardwood flooring from getting scratched in the first place.

1. Avoid wearing shoes


This is a basic practice that can significantly impact floor quality. Wearing the same shoes indoors as outdoors brings in a lot of grit and debris that scratches and gets ground into flooring. If you make sure no one comes in wearing shoes, your floors will keep looking as good as new, particularly near the doorway.

Keep a shoe rack beside the door, or a bench for guests to sit on and a basket for them to put their shoes. As an additional precaution, use doormats outside the door. This will trap dirt and prevent water and mud from getting in.

Wearing high heels indoors can cause unsightly scratches, as can shoes with stiff or rubber soles that create friction against the floor.

2. Train and groom your pets


Running pets can scratch hardwood floors. Training your pets and marking areas as “no-go” zones is the best way to prevent this trouble. Clipping their nails regularly will not only protect your floor but is also good for your pet’s health. Taking dogs out for regular walks files their claws naturally when they walk on pavement or a similar hard surface.

3. Use superior quality topcoat

There are many different types of top coat available to make your hardwood floors more durable. The following are some popular topcoats to add during installation.

  • Wax: This is the oldest method of protecting hardwood but requires frequent touch-ups and is the least durable option.
  • Oil-based polyurethane: This is affordable and easy to apply but has a high Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content. Hence, it is advisable to wear a mask during application. This finish is durable and is a very common choice among homeowners looking for an affordable but quality finish.
  • Water-based polyurethane: This is another popular choice with a lower VOC content. It also dries quickly but is comparatively less effective and durable than an oil-based variant.
  • Aluminum oxide: When you want the toughest finish for your hardwood floor, this is the best choice. However, it is for new and pre-finished floorboards only and cannot be refinished if damaged. Replacement is the only viable choice in that case.
  • Moisture-cured urethane: This must be professionally installed and is comparatively less durable than aluminum oxide but is one of the tougher finishes available.

4. Use felt pads under heavy furniture


These self-adhesive felt pads are pressed under furniture legs, preventing scratches that occur when you pull or push any heavy furniture on hardwood flooring. They are affordable and easily found at crafts stores but tend to fall off with use so must be replaced frequently, especially when moving furniture around.

5. Have a regular maintenance routine

Cleaning floors thoroughly and regularly ensures the removal of dirt, grit and other elements that cause damage, including scratches and dents. Here are a few things you can do to maintain hardwood flooring:

  • Sweep and vacuum frequently
  • Use floor mats and area rugs to create a barrier against microscopic debris that can get embedded into the wood
  • Use a floor cleaner designed specifically for hardwood

6. Don’t drag or push furniture

When homeowners are rearranging or redecorating, they tend to move their furniture around to give their space a new look. However, when you choose hardwood flooring for such areas, it can pose problems. While it may be easy to push or drag furniture, moving large and bulky objects across the floor can lead to scuffing and scratching of the hardwood flooring in your Oakville home.

Our hardwood flooring experts recommend lifting heavy items like furniture to ensure that your flooring remains as good as new and protected from damage. Ask friends, family, or neighbours to help you move the furniture.

7. Rearrange your floor plan

Rearrange your floor plan

Homeowners should periodically rearrange their area rugs and furniture to ensure that their flooring ages evenly. By moving objects around, you redistribute the stresses that your hardwood flooring in Oakville is being exposed to, such as direct sunlight and foot traffic. Also, consider investing in high-quality window treatments to protect your floors from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

8. Avoid cleaning with water

Hardwood and water don’t mix, as the former is a natural material and its cellular structure immediately responds to moisture.

Exposure to water or liquids in general can lead to decay and swelling followed by buckling, cupping and warping. However, these issues don’t happen when hardwood flooring in Oakville is sealed professionally upon installation and as required. It is the underside and raw sides of the wood that absorb moisture and react to it.

So, it’s a good idea to mop up spills promptly to ensure your flooring looks as good as new and performs well. For cleaning, use a soft-bristled brush to gather dirt and dust and a dustpan to pick it all up. Once a week, use a vacuum suitable for hard surfaces.

Pro Tip: Refrain from steam cleaning your hardwood floors, as this can damage the wood and its sealant. Instead, use cleaning products meant for hardwood in small quantities to minimize damage.

9. Clean the outside of your home

Homeowners with hardwood flooring in Oakville should make it a point to ensure the areas outside their homes, especially entrances, are kept clean. Debris can easily get trapped on shoes and be dragged inside. If the outside areas are dirty, a strong wind can blow dirt into your home. Check high-traffic areas such as patios, garages, and entryways.

10. Strategically lay down runners and mats

Strategically lay down runners and mats

Using area rugs, runners, and mats in high-traffic zones can protect these areas from damage due to use. For instance, mudrooms and entryways leading outside should be at the top of the list when it comes to using door mats.

Then consider your hallways and specific areas in larger rooms, such as living rooms and the kitchen, that receive pass-through traffic. By strategically placing runners and area rugs here, you do your part to minimize wear and tear on your hardwood floors in these highly-trafficked areas.

Pro Tip: Lay down runners or mats in front of your kitchen sink and dishwasher to capture spills. It will also provide a comfortable surface to stand on. Small mats and boot trays can be used inside doorways.

11. Avoid polyurethane and wax polishes

Even if you have seen advertisements that claim they clean and restore hardwood flooring, steer clear of them. Such products can damage your floor as they are manufactured using chemicals that can leave streaks and stains. Once you use them on your hardwood floors, any finish you may want to apply in the future won’t adhere properly owing to their oily or waxy texture.

12. Keep pet bowls away

If you have pets, it’s best to keep their bowls away from hardwood floors. However, if this is not possible, make sure to use mats or other types of protection so that the bowls don’t sit directly on your hardwood floors. Your pets won’t know how to keep the water off, and neither will they clean up the mess themselves! If they have spilled water which escapes your notice, your floors will sustain water damage and need to be fixed, which will be costly and time-consuming, or replaced.

Additional Tips to Prevent Future Damage:
● Clean your hardwood flooring in Oakville regularly to prevent the build-up of dirt, dust, and debris that can damage the surface.

● Use rugs and mats to protect high-traffic areas.

● When moving appliances, do so carefully. Your best option is to ask someone to help lift them up and move them to their new location.

When you take these preventive measures, you make sure that your hardwood flooring does not develop unsightly scratches that compel you to sand and refinish it sooner than necessary. You can also choose hardwood species that have more character and prominent graining to camouflage these marks and dents.


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