How to Repair Surface Scratches on an Oiled Floor

Before attempting to repair a solid or engineered wood floor you must first establish what type of finish your floor has.

If you are able to, you should refer to your original invoice or packaging. When this is not available the following information may help, but should only be used as a guide.

Characteristics of an oiled floor:

  • Texture matt finish
  • Generally rough surface
  • Rich in colour
  • Usually very little sheen or light reflection
  • Scratches duller
  • Overall duller appearance
  • Has a more natural finish
Characteristics of an oiled floor

Characteristics of a lacquered floor

  • Shinier surface
  • Generally has high light reflection
  • Lacquer scratched show up white
  • Generally lighter in appearance
  • Often has a cleaner, smoother finish
Characteristics of a lacquered floor

If your floor does have a lacquered finish click here to find out how to repair it.

Once you have established the finish you need to check if the flooring is brushed or smooth finished. Brushed floors are put through a brushing machine prior to being finished, this creates a deeper grain on the wooden surface. A flat finished floor is a flat sanded finish although the wood will show the grain it will not be so pronounced.

How to repair surface scratches on a flat oiled Floor

Difficulty rating 2.5/5

Surface scratches on an oiled floor are fairly easy to repair. First establish the size of the area you wish to repair then:

1, Clean the area first with a recommended oil cleaner, ensure all grit and dirt is removed.

2, Using a 120 grit sandpaper gently buff the wood along the grain with a backwards and forwards motion with very little pressure, more pressure can be applied once you've established the amount needed.

  • TIP - Using a sanding block will not only make it easier, it will also give a more even buffed finish.
  • TIP - Before using the sand paper, rub the paper together. This will reduce the coarseness of the paper allowing for a better buffed finish.

3, Once buffed, vacuum the area to make sure it's clear of dust and grit.

If the flooring is fairly new or a maintenance oil has been applied regularly (on a yearly bases), than you can re coat the flooring using the same maintenance oil, if the flooring has been neglected than a new oil would have to be applied this will appear different in colour to the rest of the room.

4, If using maintenance oil gently apply the oil to the wooden floor using a lint free cloth, first in a circular motion than use a second cloth along the grain of the wood. The first cloth is the wet cloth i.e. the one that the oil is applied to the floor with, the second cloth is known as the dry cloth, this cloth is used to buff the excess oil into the floor.

Generally two coats are required to seal the floor drying time between coats is approximately 3 to 4 hours depending on room temperature.

If the flooring has been neglected repairing one area can raise other issues. The color could be vastly different as the original floor will be dry and the oil weak, this means the new area will stand out from the rest of the floor. In this situation it may be worth considering re sealing the whole floor. It is a lot of work but your floor will look brand new and with regular cleaning and oiling it will be easier to maintain.

  • TIP - Once your floor has been re-oiled, it's important to only dry clean the wood for at least two weeks after. This is the approximate time it takes for an oiled floor to cure completely, any wet cleaning prior to this could result in the oil weakening or it could become patchy.

How to repair surface scratches on a brushed and oiled floor

Difficulty rating 3/5

Surface scratches on a brushed and oiled floor are fairly easy to repair, but not always as necessary as a flat oiled floor, the deeper grain finish means that most surface scratches are less noticeable to the eye and can usually be left.

If the scratch requires attention the following steps should be taken:

1, First vacuum the area which requires repair, than clean using an oiled wood floor cleaner

2, The flooring should than be gently buffed using a 120 grit sandpaper , this should be done in a backwards and forward motion running with the grain of the wood, start by using very little pressure and build if required. Please be aware that by buffing the floor you will lose the brushed finish, this will have to be reapplied.

  • TIP - It is a good idea to rub the sand paper together prior to using it on the flooring as this will reduce the coarseness giving you a better finish.

  • TIP - Wrapping the sand paper around a sanding block will not only give a more even finish it will also make it easier to do.

3, To re-apply the brushed finish to the wood use a convex wire brush, gently run the brush along the length of the wood running with the grain, starting light and increasing in pressure, until the grain is similar to the rest of the flooring. Once done the floor needs to vacuumed to ensure it is clear of any dirt and grit.

  • TIP - Brushing a floor can be tricky we suggest doing a trial run first on a spare piece of flooring until you feel confident enough do the actual floor.

4, Your floor is now ready to have a new coat of oiled applied, if the floor is well cared for and has had regular maintenance i.e. cleaned with the correct products and maintenance oil applied when required, than you can apply a coat of maintenance oil to re seal the floor, if the flooring has been neglected than a traditional oil needs to be applied, when a new oil is applied to a neglected floor it will look different to the rest of the flooring in color and richness. This is unavoidable. In this case your only option may be to do the whole floor.

5, Maintenance oil should be applied to the wood floor using a lint free cloth this will reduce the risk of small pieces of cloth becoming stuck to the floor. First apply the oil with one cloth in a circular motion, than use a second cloth and buff the floor along the grain, this will force the oil into the flooring and remove any excess, than leave to dry. This can take between 3 to 5 hours approximately.

6, The floor is now ready for its second coat this is applied the same way as the first again using two cloths.

Important - Once you have finished using the oiling cloth they must be first rung out in water and then placed in an air tight bag. This reduces the risk of any hazards as they have very rarely been known to self-combust.

If the flooring has been neglected it is worth considering re finishing the whole area as the floor will only continue to deteriorate with age, it means a lot more work is required but once done and with the correct maintenance the floor will hold its appearance for years.