Make your old floors look like new with these three tricks

Consumer Reports News: May 30, 2013 03:38 PM

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When Consumer Reports tests floors, it spends weeks scuffing, scratching, and dropping weights on wood, laminate and vinyl flooring and exposing samples to intense UV light. Not all floors stand up to such abuse. In your own home, some minor damage may enhance the rustic look of distressed or hand-scraped floors. But you'll want to fix other flaws. Here are three tricks.

Mark it. A color-matched felt marker can hide small scratches in any floor. Some hardwood manufacturers offer color-blended filler for chips and grooves.

Sand it. Badly worn or damaged wood floors must be refinished. But you can do spot repairs of wear or damage with light buffing or sanding, followed by staining. Be especially careful with the thin veneers on engineered-wood floors.

Replace only what's damaged. Heavy damage or a cracked stone tile typically requires chiseling out the damaged section and gluing in a new piece. But that's still easier than removing an entire row of tiles or planks if you've floated the floor.

In our tests of solid-wood flooring, strong performance in our foot-traffic and scratch tests helped EcoTimber Woven Honey and Teragren Portfolio Naturals Wheat bamboo earn top scores. Among engineered woods, slightly better stain and UV resistance helped put a Harris Wood Traditions oak floor a notch above the Teragren bamboo.

We found two good bets among the laminate flooring: Hampton Bay Enderbury Hickory, $2.60 per square foot, and Surface Source Winchester Oak, a CR Best Buy at just $1 per square foot. And our top-scoring floor of the batch was the vinyl Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate.

Ed Perratore

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