How to Repair Damaged Linoleum Floors

A damaged or worn area on a beautiful linoleum floor is one of the last things a homeowner wants to see. It’s unsightly, and is usually in just about the most prominent area. But it happens. And when it does, you may be thinking that, since it’s one big piece, you can’t replace a section of it as you could with a tile floor.

Not true, and you don’t need to call in a professional. Making a good, well-hidden repair is not as difficult as you might think. All you’ll need is a little patience, a scrap piece of linoleum, tape, a sharp utility knife, putty knife/scraper, and some linoleum adhesive.

First of all, the pattern on the floor has a lot to do with how the finished repair will look. If the linoleum contains lines, either straight or circled, it makes it much easier. Notice the lines on the floor in the photos. A pattern such as this is quite simple to repair. If your floor has no lines, i.e. very plain with just a few designs here and there, you can still patch it, but it probably won’t be as inconspicuous.

The goal is to make a patch from scrap linoleum, cut out the damaged floor area, and replace it with the patch. Making the patch fit perfectly is a must. That is accomplished by proper positioning of the patch, and making the cuts through the patch and the floor’s linoleum at the same time.

Start off by taking a piece of leftover linoleum. You should have some scrap from when the job was completed. It’s always a good idea to keep scrap from any flooring project. If you cannot find any, you might be out of luck. Your only options would be to shop around and see if you can find the identical pattern, or try to create a patch from an inconspicuous area such as under the fridge. That’s only done as a last resort, since it leaves a portion of bare floor. Yes, it’s hidden from view, but there nonetheless.

If the leftover linoleum has been stored in a cool area, don’t start working with it until it reaches normal room temperature.

Study the design on the linoleum. You’ll need to make the patch by cutting along the lines in the pattern. Darker lines are better, since the cuts won’t be as noticeable. Place the scrap piece over the damaged area, and include enough surrounding area where you can cut along lines in the design. The size of the piece depends on the area of damage and the design on the linoleum.

Align the scrap piece with the floor’s pattern as closely as possible, as shown in the photo. Once everything is positioned correctly, tape the piece down securely. You don’t want it moving around while you’re cutting.

Always cut along a line, or any other dark area whenever possible. Use a very sharp utility knife, press down firmly, and make the cut straight through both the patch and the original linoleum. Make absolutely certain you make only one cut – don’t go back and trim off a little extra here and there. If you do, the patch may not fit properly. If your knife is sharp enough, you should be able to cut through both layers of linoleum easily.

By cutting through both layers with one precision cut, the patch you create will fit the cut-out piece of floor perfectly.

Cuts don’t necessarily have to be made in straight lines. It all depends on the pattern of the linoleum. If the lines are curved, it’s fine to cut along them. The blade should go through the linoleum layers straight, however.

Where cuts meet, try to get them as perfect as possible. One little burr in a corner could cause fitting problems. Once the entire area has been properly cut out, lift up the top piece. If it snags here and there, don’t try to force it. Carefully use your knife and clear up any problem areas, so the piece will lift up easily. That piece will be your permanent repair patch. Move it out of the way so it won’t get damaged.

If you should make a serious mistake and mis-cut the patch or the linoleum on the floor, all is not lost. The patch you made will probably no longer fit, so you’ll have to start over. It’s not as bad as it sounds, provided you have enough scrap linoleum. Take a slightly larger piece to cover a larger area, tape it in place, and start the cutting process over.

Your next step is to remove the glued-down linoleum from the floor. A heat gun or hair dryer makes the job much easier. Heat guns are best, since they produce more heat – much more. So hot, in fact, that caution must be used to make sure the gun isn’t aimed in one place for any length of time.

Start out by making a small slit in the center of the damaged piece. Apply heat and slowly work the putty knife under the linoleum. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to lift it in one piece. If not, get ready for some scraping. It’s not normally too difficult, but you’ll have to be very careful around the edges. The slightest nick can ruin the fit of the patch.

Sometimes the linoleum will come off in thin layers. A little tedious, but the remnants can usually be lifted or scraped away without causing any problems. The bare floor must be totally free of debris before attempting to place the patch.

Once you have everything removed and cleaned, get your permanent patch and place it into the area. It should fit like a glove. If it doesn’t, check for small bits of debris and carefully remove any you find. Make sure the patch can be firmly pressed down on the floor, even with the rest of the linoleum. If it’s sticking up, even slightly, it can get scuffed and damaged later.

Once you’re satisfied with the fit, apply some linoleum adhesive to the floor. Using a notched trowel can help prevent oozing. When it’s covered with adhesive, carefully apply the patch and press down firmly. Wipe up any excess adhesive that may ooze from the seams immediately. Standing on the patch for a few seconds helps ensure a good bond to the floor.

That’s about it. Place a heavy object such as a toolbox on the newly-patched area and allow the glue to dry. Your patch should blend in well and be nearly invisible.

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