the first scratch in the hardwood floors

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, All Things Home, Decorating, Living Room, My House, Room Makeovers75 Comments

I think one of the reasons that I like old things is that they are already worn.  They wear scratches, dents, dings, chips, cracks, and crazing, and any new damage that is done to them will likely go unnoticed.  They are already imperfect and there is no pressure to keep them pristine.  Well, newly installed and freshly refinished hardwood floors do come with some amount of pressure to keep them scratch-free for as long as humanly possible.

For me, that turned out to be less than 24 hours.

I knew that these hardwood floors would scratch, because we have them on our stairs, in the dining room, my office, and 15-year-old floors in the kitchen and eating area.  All of them are scratched to some degree from the pets, from furniture scooting, from dropping things, from kids, from life.  I knew these floors, which are in the two most trafficked rooms in the house, wouldn’t be the exception, and I really am okay with that.  I would rather have wood floors with scratches than carpets with stains.

refinished birch wood floors miss mustard seed

So, the morning after the hardwood floors were beautifully finished and the final coat was sufficiently dry enough to start moving furniture back into the rooms, I decided I was going to start slowly moving in a few pieces.  Jeff had left for a hiking trip early that morning, so the rooms were going to be put together by me and the boys.  It was fairly early, so I didn’t want to bother the boys, yet, and got it in my head that I could easily slide the corner piece of our sectional out of the dining room and into the living room.  (The sectional is the Outerbanks Sectional in Ponder Lakeland from Arhaus.)

I know you can all see what’s coming…

I should’ve seen it coming!  

I put sliders on the bottom of all of the feet, turned the piece on its side, careful to make sure only the cushioned part was touching the floor.  I began to pivot the bulky piece through the doorway and quickly realized the entire thing was a mistake.  The piece was wedged and, not only was it wedged, but the side of one of the legs was digging into the floor.

“Oh no!  Come help, guys!  I need help right now!!”  The boys came racing down the steps when they heard the desperation in my voice.  Marshall, the oldest, slinked through the maze of furniture in the dining room and looked at me in disbelief over the wedged piece of upholstery.  ‘What are you doing, mom?  Why didn’t you wait for us to help?”

“Argh!!  I know!  I am so, so mad at myself right now.  I can’t believe I have scratched the brand new floor!  ARGH!!”

“And you’ve jacked up the doorframe over here, too.”

I shot him a you’re-not-helping look and we tried to get the sofa piece unstuck.  One leg was tightly wedge on one side of the door frame and another on the other.

“How did this even happen?!?  How did we get it in here?!”

I was panicked, certain there was no way on earth to get this piece out of the doorframe.  It was like trying to solve one of those metal puzzles where the pieces have to be at the perfect angle and correct relation to one another to disconnect.  I slid a piece of cardboard under the leg and tried to gain some amount of reason.  If it came in, it’ll go back out.

After a few minutes of struggling, we couldn’t get the piece in or out.  It was just stuck.  Marshall, who was much more level-headed about the whole thing than I was, figured out the angle required to get the piece back into the dining room.  I exhaled a deep sigh of relief and now I could survey the full extent of the damage.  What I didn’t know is that Jeff had been on the phone the entire time while this was playing out.  He had called Marshall to tell him good morning and Marshall set the phone down when I needed help.  Marshall picked the phone back up and told Jeff how mom had scratched the new floor and messed up the doorframe.  He even texted pictures.

refinished birch wood floors scratch miss mustard seed

I finally grabbed the phone.  “I know.  I know.  This was so stupid and I’m so mad at myself right now.  You don’t need to say anything.”

And, to his credit, he didn’t lay on any guilt or admonishment.  He said it was no big deal.  And he was exactly right.  We live in this house.  We actually live here.  While I show pictures of this house on the blog and social media and it’s sometimes photographed for magazines, this isn’t a set and these aren’t props.  This is our home and it’s going to get dinged and dented and scratched and spilled on.  Things are going to break and we’re each going to do stupid things that cause permanent or difficult-to-repair damage.  We’re going to back into the garage door (which we’ve done), we’re going to cut an active water line (which we’ve done), we’re going to drip paint on the carpet (which we’ve also done.)

As soon as I got over the disappointment in myself, I was relieved at the thought that this was just the first scratch of many.

And that one scratch doesn’t take away any of the beauty of these hardwood floors.  Not even a little bit.

birch wood floors living room miss mustard seed 

And, about 30 minutes later, I was sort of relieved that I had put the first scratch in the new hardwood floors, because Calvin dropped the most massive Maglite in the kitchen, causing a small, but noticeable dent.  And then Sebastian came sliding in, excited at the sound of food being poured into his bowl.  Life started happening in rooms that had been taped off while the work was done and the first scratch was already behind us.

The pressure of perfection was off.

the first scratch in the hardwood floors

Related Posts

makeover in a month | slipcovered desk chair

the work of gardening gnomes & painting peonies

makeover in a month | installing paneling in the office

five things | decorating a home office

75 Comments on “the first scratch in the hardwood floors”

  1. Bless all of you! Yes, better you do the first one. Lets the pressure off everyone else. You are blessed to have the floors, and that scratch is a blessing, too. It kept someone else from getting fussed at. God takes better care of us than we imagine, most days. It lightened the mood….and, now back to living!

  2. After getting our floors sAnded and refinished..requiring a two day hotel stay….I came home and during dinner prep dropped a knife that actually stuck up inthe floor! After I got over myself new slight scratches occurred over the years …as you said. A home well lived in..btw no one notices my hole or the minor scratches! Cant wait to see your room with the rug down!

    1. Oh my, the imagery made me laugh out loud! So funny, but I know that must’ve been shocking and you probably felt as I did with my first scratch. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hahaha! Love this story. What is the deal on getting furniture through doors! … you’re totally right – the room is so gorgeous no one will even notice the scratch or scratches to come – and perfection is the enemy of so many good things…

    Cindy

  4. So brave! That first scratch is hard! We had a bridal shower at our house and a friend’s daughter’s heels made little dots all over our floor, wherever she stepped! It was so many small dots everywhere! Character!

  5. It’s gorgeous!! And yes, best to get it over with and be lived in. I love that you chose a satiny finish to your floors. Will you share what type of wood you selected? It’s so nice and textured with varying color striating. And you must have chosen a very light stain color for the floor? Help a soon to be wood floor purchaser out. 😂🙏🏻

    1. We used birch wood and had a clear coat put on. We didn’t use a stain at all. The floors will darken a little over time, but will stay pretty light. They are pretty!

  6. This is normal when we are making a home, & not a museum! This is why our guests feel comfortable & welcome, & not nervous & on edge about every little spill! I ruefully laughed when I read this:

    …”got it in my head that I could easily…”

    That is the same thinking that started oh so many of my oh so abundant misadventures!

  7. You described it perfectly! I put a scratch in our new floors when I moved furniture around. It did make me sick. Your room looks beautiful!

  8. My husband was a cabinet and furniture maker and you may know this trick that works with dings and dents in wood, not always, but most times it does minimize damage to wood. You take a hot iron with steam and put a towel down on the dent and then iron over it. The hot damp puffs up the wood and pulls the dent out. Over all though I embrace the dings and dents, they are reminders of the life we live and the jams we get ourselves in! And our impatience to take on that new idea we just can’t wait to try! That is my downfall!

    1. Hmmm, that hot-steamy-iron-on-a-towel trick may come in handy one day! Thanks!

      As others have said, marks on wood floors are just evidence of living. Painful the first time but soon forgotten. And I agree they don’t detract from the beauty of the wood one bit. After a while we can call it patina!

  9. I feel your pain. We recently installed white quartz counters and just last night at midnight I was scribbling a forgotten note/sign for the UPS man (with permanent marker). When I lifted the note I realized I had run off the edge of the paper and there were black letters on my beautiful white quartz. My heart literally stopped. Fortunately I was able to get it off with a little elbow grease. That was a little more “lived in” than I was ready for.

    1. I did a similar thing with permanent marker on a quartz counter. Heart-stopping! The manufacturer recommended wiping the marks with nail polish remover with acetone. The marks came out easily and the quartz looks as good as new! Phew!

  10. It happens! But take a pecan or walnut and break in half; rub over the scratch it will disappear some. Try it.

  11. The first scratches and dings are the hardest but then you realize nobody knows they’re there but you. No one focuses on one thing in the house on a daily basis, family or friends. Everyone looks at the big picture and your home is filled with so many beautiful things to look at. But that first scratch can be a shock and that’s why they make wonderful products to help cover them up. It gets easier!
    C’est La Vie!

  12. I feel your pain, I don’t there is a thing in our house that has remained perfect longer than a day. But with Dave gone and the kids out of the house, those blemishes are filled with memories of the events that surrounded their creation!

  13. This article made me smile. Life happens and isn’t it wonderful.! Kids, dogs, etc. That is what life moments are made of and happy memories (well at least memories) in this case💕

  14. I know the feeling. I hadn’t even moved into my newly renovated house and I dinged the brand new quartz counter top around my kitchen sink while I was washing an old crock that slipped out of my hands. I look at that ding every time I do dishes. Ugh!

  15. Marian, if the scratch is only in the finish, you can buff it out. If it went further into the wood, you can go over it with a soft cloth and some Old English Scratch Cover. Don’t worry about it! The floors are beautiful and you will be so happy with them.

  16. Thanks soooo much for sharing your story. We have a couple scratches and dings in our hardwoods and it has been eating away at me. Now I feel a whole lot better to hear someone I admire so much is human like me!!

  17. I can totally relate, thought I would be smart and hang everything before putting furniture back, well I not only dropped the nail but the hammer as well. Nice big dent. I said somethings under my breath and my honey just looked at me with the “what was the big hurry look”

    As you said this is where you live things will happen.

  18. We have recycled heart pine floors and they scratch and dent easily. After grieving over the dog trying to get traction to run to the door on our kitchen floor my husband reassured me that this is what makes them look lived in. Just saw new scratch in our bathroom this morning where someone moved a table across the floor. Oh well! Life goes one and thankful to be healthy.

  19. You hit the nail on the head for my way of thinking…..I will love any old dented, rusty, peeling paint, scratched up piece of anything, it’s old, it’s used, it’s supposed to look that way….BUT!!!! I get anxiety when I purchase new items. I have to inspect each and every one on the shelf to pick out the most perfect!!! I recently bought a new cast iron skillet. I had to go to 3 different stores till I found the perfect one……it’s a skillet!!!! I know…I know…… I blame my mother, she was a perfectionist and passed it on to me! However, she was a seamstress and did beautiful work. Lordy!!! when she was teaching me how too sew.

    1. We have 120 year old oak floors in our living and dining room. When we decided to open up the walls and make a new kitchen and family room we laid new oak floors in there. After so many years, the old floors have ALOT of character as you can imagine. The new floor was new and great but the old floors are so beautiful with all the years of life on them. After 6 years, the new floors are getting some character of their own and I like them even better now!

  20. Your story sounded so familiar. I’ve been there. It reminded me of getting a scratch or ding on a brand new car. One feels pretty bad about it. You are such a great story teller because you describe the events so well and in perfect sequence. I love reading your stories!

  21. Oh! Bless it! I have felt the same way many times about dings, dents, and scratches that I have caused. Interestingly, as I have gotten older, the dings, dents, and scratches made by others don’t seem to bother me very much at all! Glad you paved the way for comfortable living and thank you for being such an inspiration.

  22. Oh I know the feeling all too well. My husband and I built a new “old” house 5 years ago. It is a Queen Anne Victorian, and we have gorgeous Brazilian cherry floors throughout. 5 years, and many scratches later, we love and live in our home. We had an oil finish put on the floor, and I just discovered this past weekend that my trusty MMS Hemp Oil is perfect for touching up those scratches and they almost disappear. The thing is, I am the one who is responsible for most of those scratches–from cleaning, trying to move things myself, etc. And I won’t even go into the scratches and dings on my soapstone and marble countertops! And I am a really careful person–ugh! You gotta live Marian☺️

  23. Your floors are gorgeous, and I feel your pain. Some of us (like myself) still see all the dings and scratches and like to have things perfect, but alas, nothing in this world can ever be perfect. In the early ’90s I lived in a 1924 house that had high heel divots and dents littering the floor in front of the living room window, where I imagine women paced while waiting and looking out the window for decades. Yes, living life leaves marks.

  24. I’m sorry, but I laughed the whole time while reading this. Especially the part where Jeff was on the phone. We’ve all been there. But your floors are now officially patina-ed.

  25. For more than 45 years we lived in a house with a difficult front entry but delivery guys always managed to navigate large pieces of furniture in. After we became empty nesters, we took up the carpet and had the floors refinished. The living room had random width planks with pegs! We tried to move a perfectly good sofa outside to be picked up for charity and just couldn’t get it around that front entry or any other way out. We finally got out the saws all and cut it up and in the process put the first scratches in the floor. After that, we had huge French doors put in to replace the family room slider. That solved that problem for future owners because we have since downsized!

  26. Oh Marian,
    I know exactly what you endured! I helped make the first and worst scratch in my bamboo floors by moving a leather wing chair. AARRGH! (And a few choice words which shall remain nameless) I chose bamboo because it’s the most scratch proof (HA!) BUT not bulletproof. It took me a month to stop beating myself up. Ten years later, toenail scratches from the dogs, mostly and I’m over it…
    Your room’s are classy, classic and invite cozying up.
    Susan

  27. My regret is that I spent so much time of my time trying to keep my house “perfect” while I was raising two rambunctious boys and numerous indoor pets. I have learned my lesson, though, because now that I am a grandmother of a three-year-old boy, nothing fazes me. I will say, “It’s just a floor. It’s just a rug. It’s just a glass. It’s just a plate.” Because that is really all that it is! As an older woman now, I just don’t see things as so very valuable any more.

    After my mother’s death, I own and use her formal mahogany dining table. It has scratches and scars everywhere, and my husband has often asked me why I don’t refinish the table to make it look better. But the occasions with all of our family gathered around my mother’s table are precious memories for me now, and I still remember each occasion when either my children or my nephews made those scratches and scars. I love seeing those scratches and scars now because of the memories. The next person who owns the table can refinish the table. And then their children or grandchildren can scratch and scar the table to make their own memories.

  28. I almost sighed with relief when my husband put a ding in our floors when he dropped a tool while installing the wood floors. Now I could relax knowing I would not make the first blemish on the floor. A year later, we have adopted a cat and have our dog, so there are scratches and dings, but it is still beautiful to me. Your floors are gorgeous. I am with you in that I despise carpet. We even had it in our kitchen when we moved in!

  29. I have followed your blog for many years and I have to say this is by far my favorite. You’re not selling anything or showing us how to do something fabulous (I’ll never be able to do!) You’re relaying a story that we’ve probably all experienced in our lives which is proof that yes, sometimes life is messy and dirty and no matter how hard you try, accidents happen.

    But that is what memories are built on and I’d much rather have scratches and dents from pups and kids then pristine floors that no one ever enjoyed. I look at our hardwood floors and memories flood my heart where the dogs peeled out attempting to get to the door fast enough to catch that squirrel or one of my girls dropped a favorite ironstone dish that not only broke into a million pieces but also left a nice size dent that no amount of stain, wood putty or sanding corrected.

    Memories aren’t captured in photo frames alone.

    Enjoy the new floors and all the memories they bring!

  30. Probably best that you made the first ding in the new floors, takes the tension off everybody else, lol.😳😄
    The floors look awesome.

  31. Oh, my…these stories have made me laugh; especially the one with the knife sticking up out of the floor! So I just touched up the paint on essentially every wall in my house and guest house. So proud of myself until I realized I used low sheen paint instead of eggshell so now I have to redo the whole dang thing. And just to top it off, I accidentally kicked the paint tray and splattered paint all over the wood floor. The same wood floor that I dropped a Dutch oven on last year causing a big dent.
    We are all perfectly imperfect in our perfectly imperfect homes! That’s what makes them so special.

  32. We opted for wide pine floors in our reno of our antique house. We had dents almost immediately – and in several rooms within a week. I choose to see it the way you do, there’s bigger things to worry about, always.

  33. No. Life is not Instagram perfect. I personally like living with imperfections. It’s less stressful & it’s real life.

  34. We had the choice of installing hardwood floors in our new old style farmhouse when we built it nearly 3 years ago.

    The cost was high & the budget stretched already when we came across a great deal on some floating floor, the boards were extra long & wide, were the perfect brown plus had a worn rustic patterning that we loved. To test durability for a working farm & large dogs I took a key & tried hard to scratch the store test piece. Not a single mark on it!

    3 years later the floors looks exactly the same, at the time I was wanting hardwood, now I’m so glad I have this super tough floor that even if it did scratch the finish means it would blend in. Plus we saved more money by laying it ourselves – the whole house – my knees are definitely not as tough as this floor! 😀

  35. I absolutely love your last sentence

    The pressure of perfection was off.

    I’m working on that. All of the stress that put on myself and my family members over the years. Not one bit of that stress was worth it.

  36. Great story! I can imagine the stress I would have been feeling, but so good how you all got through it. Nothing new stays new. So glad you can enjoy your new floors without trying to keep them perfect. =)

  37. Just LOL! Yep, I have engineered hardwood floors in the main rooms of our home, and sooner or later, it happens!

  38. Your floors are beautiful! I was biting my lip while reading your story! Oh, how many times have I done something similar and created so much more work :). I loved your last sentiment.

  39. Thanks Marian, I too just dinged up a new floor,spilled a whole bucket of water on wall to wall carpeting. It was a miserable day. But you are absolutely right, it will be the first and then we get over it!

  40. Those boys are such goobers. My son would have done the exact same thing & rat me out to my husband 😂 luckily it’s just a floor, and now you have a story to go along with the scratch!

  41. favorite cousin (our grandmothers were sisters) was lying on my bed one day and found a huge hole in the white matelasse. She said, “Awww…you’ve got a blessing!” What a way to turn our thoughts around, yes?

  42. So true – I’m always “going ahead” & doing things without waiting on help!!! Nevermind, that scratch will send out warmth & laughter in years ahead. Looks lovely!!!

  43. My boys have been hardwood floor finishers for a couple of decades. There may actually be a way to redo or cover a small area if the scratch is bothersome. You should call and check!

  44. I used to volunteer at a castle museum. They had a bronze bust of Napoleon on pedestal. A very large woman with a very large bag swung around and knocked Napoleon of his perch. He was okay but the perch had some dings. Lets not even talk about the gigantic g gouges in the 100 year old floors. I loved telling people bout the incident. Well Napoleon sits behind a rope out of herms way. No one wants to live in a museum…….. So embrace all of your dings and scratches. The floor are beautiful. I hope you put felt pads under all of those feet.You will never know what you prevent.

  45. Oh Marion I can feel your panic but it’s just a scratch and a good story starter. 😬 I was thinking It’s a good lesson to the boys too that we all make mistakes but we survive and get through things. 🤗 I have some scratch fix pens in every colour stain and I use them constantly to fix up scratches on furniture. You draw over the scratch and blend it in. I always go the lightest colour. They are a life saver for me.

  46. Try taking a walnut (shelled) and rubbing it into the scratch. I’ve done it. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not.

  47. Perfect is boring! My skin used to look smooth and even, before I had lived much. Now I have wrinkles and lines and stories to tell!

    My husband puts lots of miles on his truck working construction, so he trades it in every few years. When he gets a new one, he throws a claw hammer into the truck bed the first day. It’s gonna happen anyway, so just as well accept it.

    Unmarked, unlined, unblemished? Uninteresting!

  48. Did the exact same thing in my tiny house. The boxspring had to be moved from one peaked ceiling room to the other. The plastic end took a major looooong gouge out of the new hardwood. I had to leave the house I was so mad. Came back when I wasnt so upset and carefully put the bed together and it covered it.

  49. Your story had me laughing all the way through it. I’m also one of those “I’ll just go on and do it myself” women. Moved my china cabinet, loaded with china, to the other side of the room….by tilting it on the back legs and putting a quilt under the front legs, then doing the same to get the quilt under the back legs. Slid it a little bit at a time….until it was perfectly situated in the desired spot. I believe it was two days before my husband (who’d been opposed to the idea of moving it) noticed that, in his absence, it had been moved.

    I, too, dropped a knife in the kitchen and had it stick up in the wood floor! As horrified as I was about that, I was even more thankful that I’d been able to get my bare feet out of the way!! Those dents and dings that we make in our floors and furniture make the best stories, don’t they?! Here’s to more stories!!

  50. Isn’t this always the way! I, too, am always glad (after being upset with myself) which I am the first to spill milk on the new rug, put a pen mark on my newly washed slipcovers, or a myriad of other “signs of living”. I always appreciate your gift of framing a situation with honesty and perspective. Enjoy living in your new rooms!

  51. About 5 years ago we were remodeling our kitchen and we took a wall down and my adult sons patched in our hardwood floors and sanded them all down to the bare wood to get ready to stain them. (They had previously had jobs with a hardwood floor company). My oldest son, his wife and 2 year old daughter were living in our basement at the time while they were renovating their house. My 2 year old grand-daughter got sick and vomited all over the raw wood. I never saw my sons move so fast to clean up vomit. I’ll never forget it. The floor turned out beautiful.

  52. I felt your pain but laughed when you realized your husband was listening in on the phone. Had to share an incident that happened in our house. We were raising a grandson and when he was three years old, he carved a drawing on the top of a low cabinet in our living room. When he was finished, he came running into the kitchen to show what he had drawn for me. He was so excited he blurted out, “A BUTT!” Well, my grandson is now twenty years old and I always laugh as I share his drawing when his friends drop by.

  53. This is why I prefer wood floors with an oil or oil/wax blend finish. Duchateau is a local brand that I’m familiar with that makes this kind of flooring. Every scratch and stain can be repaired easily. Floors finished this way have lasted for hundreds of years in European homes with minimal upkeep. They just get more beautiful with age, unlike polyurethane.

  54. My husband has always been a bit of a fanatic about our hardwoods but I remind him we LIVE here. When we built our new Craftsman style home I purposely chose second run floors. They came with slight dings and grooves and have a “lived in” look. I thought that might help him relax about the floors. It did not.

  55. Several houses and wood floors ago we began to call the dinks and scratches, ” love gouges.” It helps! The house is lived in and loved. 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *