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We rent an old house with hardwood floors and the area under one of our office chairs is now brittle and dull. What are our options for conditioning and/or protecting the wood (especially to prevent splinters)?

We would prefer to do this cheap and without having to apply the solution to the entire floor, if possible. However, we would prefer to use the hardwood (as opposed to purchasing a special mat or something).

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I was going to suggest buying a rug to go under the chairs until I read your last sentence. –  ChrisF Feb 4 '11 at 20:53
    
I don't think you're going to do much better to protect the wood than buying a chair mat (especially if it's already brittle). Get a translucent chair mat made for hard floors (smooth on the bottom). –  Kris K. Mar 29 '11 at 13:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If the rolling of office chairs is your major concern, consider putting urethane wheels or casters on your chairs. This type of wheel will not scratch or mar the floors further. These can be found at office furniture retailers. There is no way other than using chair mats, carpet etc. that I know of to protect a wood floor if you do not want to apply additional finish coats to entire floor.

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So there's no way to condition or patch a small area of the floor? –  jennyfofenny Feb 6 '11 at 21:21
    
Sure, you can do a small area, but it will not blend in and you will forever see it. –  aphoria Mar 28 '11 at 19:47
    
I have a high-wear area and have to keep recoating that section. Not a perfect match, but good enough... –  Brian Knoblauch Mar 28 '11 at 20:01
    
FWIW I have engineered wood and bought the urethane wheels. They work for a while but if you let enough dust build on them (or on the floor) the floor still gets scratched. I regret not getting a rug in the first place as that would have been the most effective solution. –  n00b Jan 25 '13 at 22:08

There are various oils to condition wood (lemon oil, etc), but they're just for keeping wood from drying out, etc. They are not wear protection. Nothing like a conditioning of the wood is going help your situation. There are no surface-patching compounds for wood floors that will tolerate a chair or anything like it from what I've seen. You have 3 choices as I see it. Rug, office mat, sand and refinish the whole floor. I'd also include a non-sanding resurfacing, but it sounds like your floor is way past the requirements for that (it's a maintenance thing to be performed regularly, and you're beyond that if your floor is brittle and pretty much bare wood with no finish on it now).

Remember that if you put a rug or office mat down, you must lift it up and clean under it every few weeks where chair is or you will just start sanding your floors with the dust/grit that builds up over time underneath the rug/mat.

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