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How To Repair Your Floors

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

The techniques used for floor repair vary with the type of flooring and the type of damage. Let's look at how to repair your floors for some common problems.

Floor repair for carpets

Does that spot on your carpet keep coming back after you clean it? Many spot cleaners contain a detergent. The detergent residue in the carpet grabs dirt from shoe soles. Same place, new dirt! Try a non-detergent spray cleaner like Woolite's OxyDeep, or their pet-stain formula. Apply sparingly, let dry, and vacuum. Repeat if necessary. If that fails, the carpet can be patched. For large stains or rips, a leftover remnant of your carpet is ideal. Alternately, the installer can steal carpet from a closet floor. He'll cut out the damaged area and install the new piece, using double-sided carpet tape or hot sealing the seam and restretching the carpet over the tack strip. The stained carpet or a new remnant can be installed in the closet.

Tile repair

If tile is cracked from having something heavy drop on it, you're in luck. The substrate is probably fine. However many tiles crack because the underlying wood substrate is deflecting more than 1/360th of an inch, or a concrete floor is uneven or cracked. Tough as tiles are, unevenness below them creates inadequate support. Tile repair requires a gentle touch!

  1. Rather than shattering the broken tile, avoid lateral pressure on surrounding tiles by drilling holes an inch apart diagonally across the cracked tile. Use a 1/4" masonry bit. Tap gently between the holes with a 1/2" to 3/4" cold chisel to create removable pieces.
  2. With a small flat bar, gently pry loose the tile chips. Remove mortar and clean the substrate. Use a grout and tile chips for matching colors.
  3. Using either a latex-fortified thinset mortar or tile adhesive, spread a 1/4" very level layer on the substrate. Rake it with a 1/4" notched trowel and center the tile in it. Set a wood block on the tile. Tap the block gently with a hammer handle, leveling both ways. Let it set overnight.
  4. The next day, mix grout with precise measurements or it won't match. Pack it gently but firmly into the cracks using either a large, very firm sponge or a rubber float. Use a sweeping movement. Let it dry several hours until the tile surface looks hazy. Wash off excess with a sponge. Avoid foot traffic for 24 hours.

How to repair vinyl floors

A sheet vinyl floor repair involves placing a spare piece of vinyl on top of the damaged area, precisely aligning the pattern of the two layers. Securely tape the top piece. With a metal straight edge and new utility knife blade, cut both layers at once. Remove the lower layer with a putty knife, clean off the substrate, and spread a thin coat of mastic. On a perimeter-bonded floor, also spread the mastic under abutting edges. Put the new piece in place. Cover with wax paper and weigh the patch down for 24 hours. Fuse the seam with a liquid seam sealer.

Repairing tongue-and-groove wood floors

Hardwood floors without a protective laminate surface are subject to water and mold damage. If the damage isn't too deep, the floor can be sanded and refinished. Any tongue-and-groove floor, whether hardwood or composite with a wood appearance, is most likely to be damaged by water that seeps beneath seams. Dangerous mold can grow underneath. For repairs, remove baseboards on the side closest to the damage. Remove and stack undamaged pieces, numbering them by row for easy reinstallation. Pull the wood strip tongues out of the grooves until all damaged strips are out. Dry out or replace damp or moldy areas of the substrate, then reinstall reusable and new strips. Replace baseboards.