Frugal Fixes for Frightful Floors

Your sad-looking floors will smile again with these low-cost fixes.

In every floor’s life, a little mug will fall or chair will drag, scratching or denting its surface. But don’t despair; creativity and trip to a drugstore or home center will cheer up your unhappy floor.


A fast application of a hardwood cleaner will add a quick shine to dull flooring. Of course, it won’t look as good as a floor refinish, but at $15/gal., it won’t break your budget.

  • A box of crayons will fix minor scratches on wood floors. Pick a matching crayon and color it in — be sure to stay in the lines. Buff to a shine. A matching permanent marker can camouflage deeper, ugly scratches.
  • Grind the meat of a walnut or pecan into scratches. The nut oil will provide a shine that blends with a polyurethane or water-based surface finish.

Ceramic tile

Always keep spare tiles to replace those that are irreparably damaged. For smaller fixes, try these tips.

  • Reattach chipped tile (if you have the chip) with a little Crazy Glue.
  • Use nail polish to fill tile scratches. Select a shade closest to your tile color, and apply to scratches.


It’s hard to wreck resilient vinyl. But if you do …

  • To cover small burns on vinyl sheeting, sand a spare piece of vinyl; mix the vinyl “powder” with clear nail polish, and dab over the burn. Warning: wear a dust mask when sanding.
  • To reattach peeling edges of bathroom vinyl tile, cover the tile with aluminum foil and an old towel, then press down with a medium hot iron. This should melt the underlying adhesive and let it re-bond the loose edges. Weigh down with heavy books for 24 hours.


Laminate flooring is tough, but it isn’t invulnerable. Most laminate floor manufacturers offer color-matched floor fillers ($6-$12) for repairing nicks and scratches; ask your retailer. Or, try these tips:

  • Nail polish remover will remove furniture scuffs from laminate floors. Pour a little on a clean rag and wipe scuffs. Erase more stubborn scuffs with a pencil eraser (not the stand-alone pink ones, which can stain).
  • Rub a color-matched putty stick on nicks and gouges.

Related:Great-Looking, Low-Maintenance Floors