How to repair and maintain laminate floor coverings

suspended wood flooring in the home

Laminate flooring can be a beautiful addition to the home, providing a clean and mess-free alternative to traditional wooden floorboards, carpeting or other floor coverings – but it can be prone to a few issues. We look at what to do if your laminate flooring has become a shadow of its former self and how to prevent future problems.


Laminate is usually laid as a ‘floating floor’ which has a gap around the edges to provide for the expansion and contraction that naturally occurs through changes in temperature and humidity, etc. As such, the boards can separated along the joins. There are ways in which a home owners can close a gap in laminate flooring, using double sided tape and a simple block of wood and mallet, or suction pads.

Use double sided tape to stick a block of wood that is slightly narrower than the offending laminate board. Place it  close to the end of the board. If there is room (such as behind kitchen plinths), you can place the block of wood at the end of the board, rather than on top. Once in place, gently tap the block with a rubber mallet to close the gap. Long gaps can be closed by starting at one end and working along the board. Alternatively, you can use suction pads in the same way.

If closing one gap creates another, as can be the case in a long run of boards, repeat the process along the run of boards until all the gaps have been closed.

Scratches and small chips

Regular cleaning will help to avoid scratches and chips in laminate but scratches and chips can still occur over time.

A furniture marker pen can quickly hide smaller issues, but slightly more pronounced scratches should first be filled with a wax stick or, in the case of deep gouges, filled with a wood filler. Wood filler can be difficult to remove, so make sure you clean any excess off the scratch and surrounding area before it dries.

There are many furniture marker pen colours available. Draw the pen over the scratch then blend in the colour with a cloth. You may need to repeat this process to match in the colour. A furniture marker pen is not be a permanent solution and the process may need to repeated.

Replacing a damaged laminate board

Hopefully, you have had the foresight to keep back some spare boards from when the floor was first laid. This is the best and easiest way of matching the floor colour and texture. If you do not have a spare, search online and DIY stores for a board with a similar colour and finish. Different batches may have slightly different colour finishes so if you cannot find a good replacement, you could swap the board for one that is less obvious or permanently hidden i.e, beneath furniture.

To remove the damaged laminate board, drill a hole in the middle of the board with a hole saw sufficiently large that you can use a circular saw along the length and width of the board. Carefully set the saw to the correct depth and take your time – you really don’t want to damage adjacent board. Several cuts will make it easier to remove the damaged board with a chisel or screwdriver.

Clean the area carefully to ensure no material is trapped in or around the area.

Most laminate flooring is tongue and groove, so you will need to cut off one end and one length of the tongue. This can be done with a sharp knife of a saw.

Apply a strong wood glue to the grooves in the surrounding boards, then insert the new board, fitting the tongues of the old board into the grooves of the new board .

A laminate wood flooring installation kit will provide you with the tools to make this job a bit easier!

Wipe off any excess glue then place a spare board over the join and weigh it down until the glue has firmly set.

Preventing further damage

Felt protection feet can help prevent furniture legs from scratching the floor. In heavy traffic areas, such as the hallway, use a doormat and carpet runner to attract grit and other dirt before it reaches the floor. Remove outside shoes before walking around the house.

Regular sweeping and vacuuming with a suitable laminate floor vacuum head will lift any dirt that might damage the floor. At least every couple of months, mop the floor using a suitable microfibre mop.

Even if your floor is suitable for kitchen and utility areas, water spills can get between between the tongue and groove or under edging strips, causing the material to swell up permanently. To prevent this, use paper or a floor mop to clean up water spills immediately.