How to Repair a Laminate Floor
Repair surface scratches on laminate with clear finish, and deep ones with epoxy or lacquer filler. Restain and recoat a worn laminate floor.
Laminate flooring looks like wood, but most of these products are actually made from fiberboard and covered with a plasticized surface that only resembles wood. When you scratch the finish, the strategy for repair is often the same as that for a wood floor -- but deep scratches, dents and gouges require special treatment. That treatment never involves sanding, which wears off the surface lamination and ruins your floor.
It's difficult to scratch the finish on most laminate flooring products, but it can happen when you drag furniture or a large appliance across the floor, and your large dog may be able to do it with his claws. Scratches that affect only the finish are usually easy to hide. Do it by:
- rubbing the scratches with floor polish or wax
- dabbing clear floor finish on them with a cotton swab
- applying a manufacturer-recommended finish-restoring product. Pergo, for example, sells a complete line of repair putties that match the colors of its flooring products.
Deep Scratches and Gouges
Fill Defects With Colored Epoxy or Lacquer Stick
Instead of wood-based filler, use an epoxy wood-filling product or a lacquer stick that matches the color of the floor as closely as possible. These products bond better than wood fibers or latex, and because they have a sheen that matches most laminate flooring, you may not need a clear finish topcoat. You can often buy everything you need in a kit.
- Clean the area you’re about to fill with acetone and a cotton swab.
- Spread the filler with a putty knife.
- Wipe off the excess immediately with acetone.
Color the Defects with Stain, Then Backfill With Clear Material
It’s rare to find a wood filling product that exactly matches the color of your floor, and you may have more luck finding a stain or dye. If so, rub it into the scratch or gouge with a rag, being careful to wipe away excess with acetone, and then fill the defect with clear epoxy or with several applications of polyurethane.
Scratches that penetrate the finish often also remove the surface lamination to expose the core, which makes them particularly unsightly. Do not fill these with conventional wood filler, which may shrink and chip out. Instead:
Even though the finish is hard, a laminate floor can sustain permanent damage from water or other liquids left standing on the floor. If you have a laminate floor, it’s important to keep a towel within easy reach to handle spills as soon as they occur. Dab liquids instead of wiping them to avoid forcing liquid through the joints between boards, where it can damage the core. If that happens, or once water seeps through the finish, you may have to replace the affected boards. A general strategy for doing this applies to most brands of laminate flooring. Quick-Step flooring products are an exception, for which you need a special tool and procedure.
Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.