Repairing Nicks and Scratches in Linoleum or Vinyl Flooring

If you were to play that game “which of these things don’t belong,” well, the flooring in our kitchen would definitely win the prize. It does not fit in with the gorgeous wood floors throughout the rest of the house.

It is a big sheet of chipped, scratched, dinged and maybe-burned linoleum. I really have no idea what could have caused so much damage to one section of flooring.

While this was not the overall ugliest linoleum I had ever lived with, it was certainly the most damaged.

I couldn’t wait to tear it out.

But then I couldn’t decide what to replace it with.

So, I sat there staring at all of those black marks on the floor. I swear they were laughing at me.

No, that’s not dirt. Those are all of the mocking marks I was telling you about.

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So, I did what I do when all else fails me.

I got out my craft paint.

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I mixed up a nice little blend of tan, grey and white.

At this point, I figured I couldn’t actually make the floor any worse. And if, on the off chance I did, well, then we’d go back to Plan A and rip it up.

I started dabbing the paint on all of the scratches. It worked best to keep the paint as much on the actual scratch itself as possible and to not paint too far outside of the scratch. Otherwise, it just drew more attention to the repaired area.

(You can see how big this particular scratch is in relation to my craft brush.)
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While I waited for it to dry, I moved on to cover another scratch and another.

When I thought the paint might be dry, I spent 5 minutes trying to find the painted spot.

I kid you not, it was harder than it seems to find all of the spots I covered up – especially the tiny ones.

(Sorry about the shadow on this photo – the big scratch is in the shadow.)

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Then I applied a coat of matte Mod Podge over the craft paint.

I tried a semi-gloss finish Mod Podge first, but it was too shiny for my floor.

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I had no idea if it would work.

It was like science class. “Here’s my hypothesis. Now, let’s start this experiment!”

Here’s a big mark in the photo below. I think it might have been a burn mark, but I’m not sure.

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Here’s that same spot now with the craft paint and the Mod Podge on it.

Can you see it?

It’s there. It just blends so much better – especially when you are standing up a little higher.

(Ha! As I was staring at this photo, I totally found some random dirt spots. So nice.)

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I wasn’t sure if I’d even share this little experiment with you, but I did this project exactly one month ago and the Mod Podge is still holding up. I’m pleasantly surprised!

I don’t know how long it will last though. So far I have vacuumed it almost daily and mopped or spot cleaned it at least a dozen times. Oh, and it also survived ten kids traipsing in and out filling up water guns and creating a huge, wet mess on the floor. Don’t ask.

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The thing about this technique is that if you get down and look for the spot you can see it, but when you’re standing up and walking around, you don’t notice the imperfections any longer. Your eye glances over them…it’s a great kind of camouflage.

Will this work for everyone? I have no idea. I think it would probably depend on the pattern of your flooring. Mine has a lot of movement and no set pattern, so it was very forgiving of this technique. It definitely works better on the smaller scratches than the larger ones. I have a deep, 3-inch crack that’s out-of-frame in these photos that I’m still trying to figure out how to fix.

Was it worth it? Yes! The time and cost of this project was minimal. Honestly, the scratches aggravated me so much that I don’t care if it only last 30 days. I had the supplies on hand and it didn’t take long at all to cover up the scratches. It was kind of fun, actually!

It makes me happy to bring some beauty back into this horribly damaged linoleum. Plus, it buys me time to figure out what we can and should do next. 

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P.S. It should be noted that I’m not sure if what we have is vinyl or linoleum. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but do have some key differences in how they are made. I learned more about the two here.

P.S.S. You can also buy vinyl repair kits at your home improvement floor. I looked into this vinyl floor repair kit on Amazon.

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