When the floor is badly worn or damaged, use scrap flooring to patch it. You'll need a piece of flooring a little bigger than the bad spot, with the same pattern.
Step 1: Position the scrap over the bad spot so that it covers the damage completely, and align the pattern exactly with the floor pattern.
Step 2: Tape the patch firmly in place on the floor, using package sealing tape all around the edges. Then, with a straightedge and a sharp utility knife, cut a rectangle through the scrap piece and through the flooring below it, to make a patch bigger than the damaged area. Cut along joints or lines in the pattern, if possible, to make the patch harder to see. Be sure the corners are cleanly cut.
Step 3: Once the flooring is cut through, untape the scrap piece and push out the rectangular patch. Soften the old flooring inside the cut lines by heating it with a clothing iron, set to medium heat. First, cover the patch area with aluminum foil and then with a clean cloth; press until the adhesive holding the flooring has softened. Carefully pry up the damaged piece with a paint scraper or putty knife. Scrape all the old adhesive off the floor to make a clean base for the patch. If there are any gouges in the floor, fill them with water putty and let it dry completely.
Step 4: Install the patch in the opening. If it binds a little, you can sand the edges slightly with medium-grit or fine-grit paper to adjust the fit. When the patch fits exactly, spread a thin coat of floor tile adhesive in the opening with a notched trowel or spreader. Then set the patch into the gap, press it firmly in, and wipe off any excess adhesive around the edges.
Step 5: Heat-seal the edges to the main sheet of flooring. Protect the floor with aluminum foil and a clean cloth, as above; press the edges firmly but quickly with a hot iron.
Step 6: After bonding the edges, weight the entire patch firmly and let the adhesive cure as directed by the manufacturer. Remove the weights when the adhesive is completely cured. Don't wash the floor for at least a week.
Resilient flooring is very convenient, especially in high-volume areas, but it's hard to beat the elegant beauty of hardwood flooring. Of course repairing a hardwood floor isn't as simple as cutting out a patch and gluing it in, as we've learned on this page. Still, with a little patience, the clean and understated look of hardwood flooring can be well worth the effort. Move on to the next section for complete instructions on how to repair a hardwood floor.