We bought a flat with softwood pine floors in the living room. The area of the flooring that receives the most traffic is beginning to delaminate/flake/splinter (I'm not sure of the correct term!)

I'm aware that we could sand and refinish the entire floor but my question is: is there any way to stabilise this and prevent any further damage in this specific area (the rest of the floor is fine)?

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  • Any work you do in one smaller area will end up being visible when the floor is viewed as a whole. It takes a lot of effort & skill to blend a "patched" finish into the rest of the finished floor and make it disappear, and it may not be possible at all. i.e. until you sand down the whole floor, this spot will remain visible. That may not be a concern for you for a few years, but it's something to be aware of. Also, is this an owned or rented flat?
    – FreeMan
    Oct 27, 2023 at 12:32
  • If there's nothing that can be done specifically I guess my only recourse is to cover the affected area with a protective mat, or will that make it worse? (This is also where the previous owner had a swivel chair at a desk, so I'm assuming that's the cause of the damage) Also, it's an owned flat.
    – Tom G
    Oct 27, 2023 at 12:49
  • I'm not saying you can't do something to refinish just this area, but that the refinished area will be visible without a well practiced, skilled professional doing the work, and even then, it may be detectable. This is just a warning of what lays ahead, not an admonition to not do the work this way. Eventually, IMO, you'll want to refinish the whole floor to even things out, when you do that is up to you - your finances and tolerance for the visibility of the "patched" area will determine that.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 27, 2023 at 12:53
  • 1
    It is, @AdamO. However, refinishing part of a floor and getting that refinished part to "disappear" so that it doesn't look refinished are two different things... Again, I'm not saying OP must hire someone to do the work, just warning him that the refinished portion will, in all likelihood, be visibly apparent and that he should be prepared for that.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 27, 2023 at 13:04
  • 2
    I have frequently finished worn or damaged patches of wood floor and while it's not good as new it's way WAY better than before. Sometimes only I can see it. I think the question is whether this floor is in the process of disintegrating, not whether a patch can be blended to perfection.
    – jay613
    Oct 27, 2023 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


Do the edges of the growth rings actually lift up if you put a fingernail under them?

  • If so

    • squeeze some wood glue under there
    • push the grain back down
    • put down a sheet of waxed paper (shiny side down toward the glue)
    • cover with a board, thick cardboard, sheet of metal, whatever's handy and flat, and put some weight on top of it for a few minutes.
    • lift everything up and wipe up any glue that's squeezed out and visible (use a damp sponge or paper towel)
    • place all the materials back on top and wait a couple of hours until the glue dries.
    • This will hold the slivers down to keep them from popping off.
    • Refinish to your heart's content. *
  • If not

    • It's probably not going to lift any more than it has.
    • Do not try to put wood putty in there to fill the hole, it'll only be more noticeable.
    • Lightly sand the whole area and carefully pick up all the sanding dust.
    • Mix the sanding dust in with some wood glue to make a thick paste.
    • Spread the paste into the voids to fill them. Allow the glue to dry.
    • The sawdust from this wood will make the patch nearly disappear.
    • Refinish to your heart's content.*
      • Having glue in this patch will make this stand out a bit, especially if you stain. Stain won't soak into the glued areas like it will into wood or wood filler.
      • More sawdust and less glue will help reduce the visibility of the filler under stain, but may not completely make it disappear.
      • Woodworkers use the dust/glue trick as filler all the time, but staining has, somewhat, gone out of fashion, so it's not as obvious.

*Note that the refinished section will probably be noticeable (different stain color and/or finish sheen than the rest of the floor) to some extent, but will be perfectly functional until you decide you can't stand the look anymore (or sell). The only way to completely blend in the finished repair (without years of experience) will be to completely strip & refinish the whole floor in one shot.

  • Good answer, I think you are too worried about the repair standing out. It's a rustic look with exposed nails and knots. Some evidence of carpentry and TLC will enhance it.
    – jay613
    Oct 27, 2023 at 19:49
  • Fair points, @jay613. I couldn't see the images when I first posted my comments. And yes, a "rustic look" is one thing, but an uneven finish is another...
    – FreeMan
    Oct 27, 2023 at 20:58
  • There's what looks like some wood putty already in the knot, so there's probably not much to worry about the difference of look in a repair, but it's good info for anyone else that has a similar issue and does care about a repair blending in. Oct 27, 2023 at 21:17

If you have any chairs near this spot, it will get much worse. Especially if the floor is meant to have a varnished surface.

Just put a piece of carpet over the area.

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