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Wood flooring is great -- it's attractive, easy to clean, and adds a certain charm that carpet simply can't provide -- but anyone who has lived with older hardwood floors can relate to the frustration of creaky boards, nails that pop up from the floor, and unsightly scratches. Luckily, it doesn't take much to fix these problems and get your floors back to looking (and sounding) like new.

Squeaky floors

Squeaky floors can be caused by several things, ranging from the settling of your house over time, expansion and shrinkage of the wood in varying climates, and / or standard wear and tear from foot traffic. Some solutions are more temporary than others, so you have to ask yourself whether you'd mind if the squeak comes back.

If you're simply looking for a quick fix, try one of these tips from LifeSpy, such as sprinkling talcum powder around the offending board. The powder will reduce friction between the boards and quiet the squeak. I've also heard that you can drip candle wax over the cracks near the squeaky boards, but I can't speak to the validity of that particular method. The person who gave me that tip also told me that if my hand was bigger than my face, I'd be more likely to have cancer. I won't tell you what happened after I tested this "theory."

If you're looking for a more permanent solution, try drilling new trim screws into the floorboards at a slight angle. This will help secure the noisy board to the subfloor, and hopefully fix your problem. This Old House recommends using a Counter-Snap Kit that utilizes special breakaway screws. Once these special screws get to a certain depth, the tops break off, leaving you with a perfectly countersunk screw. After either method, you'll need to use wood putty to fill the hole, and voila -- you're done!

Scratches and blemishes

When it comes to hardwood floors, there are basically two types of scratches: deep and "how did you manage to get this horse-drawn plow into the living room" deep. The first type, which for the sake of brevity we'll call a "superficial scratch," can be touched up with a brown crayon and a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil, as described in this tutorial from eHow. If the scratch is so superficial that it barely breaks through the wood, rubbing a walnut against the grain might also do the trick.

The second type of scratch will require a little more effort ... as in, "grab some sandpaper and knee pads, cause we're going to be here for awhile" kind of effort. If the scratch is so deep that the entire board needs replacing, you'll need to follow this challenging set of instructions. However, if the board is still in good shape, you should be able to get by with a good sanding, washing, and reapplication of the wood stain. For a step-by-step on how you should proceed, give this tutorial a shot.

Finally, if your floor blemish is caused from water rings or spill marks, try one of the suggestions under "stain removal" from this informative article on wood furniture care. My favorite tip is the one about slathering mayonnaise all over the stain. That seems so counter-intuitive to me, but I guess if it works, it works!

So there you go, a few tips that will help you and your beautiful wood floors remain friends for a long, long time.


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