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I found these before and after pictures from several years ago and thought I needed to share this quick and cheap trick for fixing worn wood with you. I have other products I have tried and like but none of them are as cheap or as handy as this! While I no longer have hardwood floors, I found this actually works best on furniture or doors/walls or wooden decorations. I learned after this day that it only lasts through one washing so using it on things that won’t be frequently washed or receive a lot of wear is the best way to use this method. I never did find a permanent fix for those floors without a full refinish. The doors looked just as good the day I moved out as they did in this post though. Now, proceed to witness the magic.
At the time, we had a unique living situation. While working on most ranches, housing is provided as part of your pay. This particular house had belonged to the boss for 30 years before they moved into another home on the ranch. It was old but nice. It had been through several other tenants in the 20+ years the boss had lived in their “new” house before we moved in. The boss’ wife was still very sentimental about this home. She had made a marriage here, raised her children, cooked a million meals…of course she still loved it! But this meant that changing things became a little difficult. We had a portion of wall where a light salmon pink with wooden floorboards met a two toned white and turquoise wall with grey floorboards. Count that up. It’s a line on the wall where 5 different colors collided. And I left it. I looked at it every day and wondered but I didn’t change those wall colors, just as none of the people who lived there before I did had changed them. We understood her attachment to things and loved her enough to leave them.
Some of the tenants took better care of the house than others. Everyone abuses a house in their own way. Most of the people we followed had ranch dogs that lived indoors. They wore muddy boots across the floors. They had the general grime and wear that comes from working outdoors all day, every day. This took it’s toll on the wooden surfaces of the house, especially doors that were kicked closed and scratched up by dogs needing to go outside. I have always had a strong love for wooden things. I had a hard time looking at these poor abused surfaces.
One day I snapped. I HAD to help them somehow. At the time we lived an hour away from ANY stores of ANY kind. How am I supposed to rescue the wood in this house when I can’t get to any products? Enter Pinterest. And a book my mom had given me called Household Hints & Handy Tips. Here is an affiliate link to Amazon where you can purchase the book yourself (and I’ll receive a tiny commission) if you’re interested. It has a lot of really random ideas. I did some looking and I found a few different references to this method, although they all varied a little. So, I combined some methods and got started to see what would happen. Magic. Magic is what happened. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the photo proof. I’ll explain how to do it and show you the pictures that will motivate you to try it. I used it to fix some scratches and otherwise worn areas of the house – the back door and the dining room floor.
Begin by pouring equal portions of olive oil and white vinegar in a bowl or dish. They don’t mix so don’t worry about that. I only used 1/4 cup of each for my project of a door and a patch of test floor and had tons left over. It won’t require a lot. I have seen other people changing this ratio to use more olive oil. I’m not actually sure what difference it makes. I feel like the vinegar helps spread the olive oil around better and also makes the project less expensive. Since the oil floats to the top, I ended up with a different ratio by the end of my project from my rag picking up the oil more than the vinegar and didn’t notice a huge difference in the application.
After mixing up whatever ratio you choose in the amount you need, you’ll want to take an old rag and dip it in the mixture, making sure to go through the oil on top to the vinegar below, and rub it on the scratched wood. For some of my really bad areas I actually used a scrub brush.
Following are a few of the before and after pictures to help convince you of the magic.
Now this door has more problems than my simple solution can solve. All the previous tenants had indoor dogs and all these dogs would scratch at the door to be let out. The huge amounts of severely deep gouges weren’t fixed by this but the small scratches and otherwise worn out looking wood were. I actually prefer the dark looking gouges to the grey gouges they started as. And it really did improve more of the small scratches than I expected.
This is probably my favorite before and after set. The before picture perfectly shows you the best type of wear for this solution.
They aren’t deep gouges but some water damage and just basic scuffing. It almost perfectly covered all this damage.
Here is the difference it made on the wood floor. WOW! I only used the rag for this because the scratches and grooves weren’t nearly so deep. The finish is wearing off the floors pretty badly and I’m actually a little worried about long-term damage. I hope this helps with that! You can still see, even in the picture, where the finish is worn but the difference is minimal now in comparison. (Unfortunately, I learned that this didn’t last through wear and washing. I did redo it sometimes after scrubbing but you need to know, that sadly, this isn’t a permanent fix.)
And of course, I had a handsome little helper.
Any questions feel free to ask! I would also be interested in any more permanent solutions to worn finish on a hardwood floor (without having to completely re-do it). My current house doesn’t have any hardwood but you never know when that might change.