How can I fix my floors?
January 25, 2010 9:55 AM   Subscribe

How can I fix the surface of parquet flooring which I have damaged with the plastic casters on an office chair?

I didn't know what I was doing and have been using plastic casters (wheels) on wood flooring. I appear to have taken off the finish in the corner of my room where my desk sits. The finish is a bit golden brown, but the corner where my chair has been has turned a more pale tone and feels slightly rough/dusty.

What's the best way to go about fixing this? The whole floor is huge so I don't think I can/would want to refinish the whole thing.

I know I said "parquet" in the top, but I'm not 100% sure my flooring fits as this; it's pieces about 3 inches by 18 inches.
posted by beerbajay to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Short of refinishing the whole floor, I'd look for an area rug or something similar to hide the damaged area. If you're looking for some magic restorative goop you can rub on the floor to eliminate the damage, you won't find it.
posted by jon1270 at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: I'm more wanting to know what's involved/what i should think about in fixing the area non-magically without doing the whole floor. If that's not possible, non-magically, that's a good answer too.
posted by beerbajay at 11:20 AM on January 25, 2010

The problem you'll run into if you try refinishing just a small section is not knowing exactly what was there in the first place. There isn't a standard-issue floor finish. There are acrylics, urethanes, waterbase, oil-base, and various sorts of colorants. So, it's a matching problem. The chances of making the repaired area look just like the adjacent unrepaired area are slim.

That said, you could mask off the area, following existing joints in the floor, then chemically strip the area, do a bit of hand-sanding, and do your best to mimic the original finish with stain (if necessary) and polyurethane or some other likely topcoat. It would be near miraculous to get a perfect match, but if it currently looks really bad then you might very well improve the situation. Practice your finishing technique on a piece of scrap lumber the same species as the floor.
posted by jon1270 at 11:39 AM on January 25, 2010

But you can often refresh a wood floor with a "screening"; a very light sanding of just the top finish coat (not the wood) followed by a new layer of polyurethane. Works great, at least on our polyurethane-over-oak floors at my house. Doing a small patch is going to be a problem, though. Even if you've matched the material exactly it will still look different because of aging.
posted by Nelson at 11:57 AM on January 25, 2010

If you want to avoid any more future damage without having to put down a rug or one of those ugly plastic floor protectors, you can buy replacement casters for your office chair that have rubber wheels rather than plastic. I have parquet wood floors, too, and have seen absolutely no wear or damage to to floor after a year and a half of rolling around on these rubber wheels. They were a little pricey, but well worth it.
posted by Nothlit at 12:10 PM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: This is looking sad.
posted by beerbajay at 4:21 PM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: Ok, well it worked out like this: I found all of the parquet pieces which were obviously damaged and masked off an area around these (that is, right up to the edges of the damaged pieces). I then sanded, by hand, using a medium grit sandpaper to try to even out the color difference between the part which was down to the wood and the part which still had a finish. I followed up with a sanding with a finer sandpaper. The resultant floor was not totally even in color, but this was a rental, so I didn't care. I purchased some polyurethane half-gloss "parquet finish" (I'm in Sweden, where there is a little less variety in floorings and a lot more wood, so I went with the obvious choice). I did two or three coats with a fine roller and let it dry.

Result: Slightly more glossy section in the floor, but the color was spot-on. It was still obvious if you looked closely that the floor had been damaged and refinished, but the color differences in the wood (a little splotchy based on where the previous finish had been) didn't really show much. So, for a rental, totally satisfactory.
posted by beerbajay at 12:03 AM on July 6, 2010

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