How to Repair Common Problems on Walls, Doors and Floors

Learn how to fix problems that can occur on most of the surfaces in your house. Annoying things like scratched floors, stained carpets, cracked tile, broken locks, leaky ceiling and more.

©Robert Felker

©Robert Felker

©Robert Felker

©Robert Felker

©Robert Felker

Scratched Wood Floor

We love hardwood floors, but they're not impervious to getting dinged up or scratched. An energetic dog or kids and their toys can rough up a wood floor pretty quick. Deep scratches come from bigger factors, such as dragging furniture without felt pads underneath. For surface scratches that just hit the finish, rub with the grain using steel wool or fine-grit (220-grit) sandpaper and apply a top coat (polyurethane) using a small brush. For deep scratches into the wood, fill the scratch with a wood filler that's as close to the color of the wood as possible, allow to cure, sand, and apply a finish.

Leaky Roof

Roof leaks are one of the hardest things to diagnose and track down in home repair, as water can enter in one point, follow the path of least resistance, and exit many feet beyond its entry point. If you can access behind the ceiling where you hear or see the leak, place a bucket, pot, or pan to catch the water until the rain subsides. Be sure to check on the container and empty it periodically. While you're in there, look for where the water may be coming in (not where it's dripping, track the source) and use a pencil to mark the area. This is so you can identify where a repair will be needed later. If you can't reach to place bucket, and it's a significant leak, you can drill a small hole (1/4-inch or so) where the leak occurs and place a bucket under this area. This will prevent the water from building up in your ceiling and causing a collapse. You may be tempted to try to get on the roof and place a tarp over where you think the leak is occurring during the rain, but this is highly dangerous, especially if there are high winds and lightning, not to mention slippery surfaces.

Spilled Paint on Carpet

It's guaranteed that the one area you didn't cover in a room while painting is the one that will attract a spill or spatter. When you do get paint on carpet, it's best to act immediately and quickly. Dab up as much of the paint as you can with a paper towel or rag (make sure they're white), but don't smear or rub it in. Use rubbing alcohol, acetone or nail polish remove (clear, not color), or mineral spirits to dilute and dab up the paint a little at a time until it's gone. Do not soak the carpet in these solutions, or you may have them, and or the paint soaking completely through the carpet. Again, use a white paper towel or rag – the dyes in either could come off onto the carpet during the process. If the paint has already dried, try scraping off as much as you can, then follow the same dabbing process. On shag carpet you may be able to trim slight amounts of the carpet that have paint on them.

Carpet Pet Stains

If you have a pet, and have carpet, it's inevitable that you will have a stain from said pet at some point. Liquid stains should be blotted up as soon as possible using paper towels or rags applied with gentle, yet firm pressure. Try not to scrub or wipe initially. A shop vacuum could be used, but be prepared to replace the filter in the vacuum. Depending on the size of the stain, use a carpet shampoo and scrub brush, a powered spot wet vacuum, or a scrub brush and a cleanser such as Greased Lightning or OxiClean. Several cleanings may be required. The point is to thoroughly clean the area, as the scent will not only be a nuisance, it can also trigger the pet, or a visiting pet, to “go” again in the same area.

Hole in Drywall

Drywall, gypsum board, wall board – whatever you call it, it's nearly ubiquitous in homes, and while it creates great looking walls, it's relatively easy to knock a hole in it. A small ding that doesn't go completely through the drywall can be filled with spackle or wall compound, sanded, and repainted. But big holes need bigger repairs. Use a wall board saw to cut an evenly-sized square slightly larger than the broken hole. Measure the thickness of the drywall, head to a home center, and pick up a repair section of drywall – typically a 2' x 2' square. You'll also need some wall compound, drywall tape and drywall screws. Cut a matching section of drywall for the hole. Cut a piece of scrap wood longer than the hole is wide, but narrower than the hole is high. Attach the drywall patch section to the scrap wood with drywall screws. Tie a couple of pieces of string to the wood at the ends of the patch. Using a helper, insert the wood-patch assembly into the hole at an angle, holding on to the strings, and pull the strings until the drywall patch is flush with the outside of the hole. Pull the strings taunt and drive drywall screws through the wall and into the scrap board until the assembly is firmly attached (you may need to drill pilot holes first). Use tape and drywall compound to cover the edges of the patch and screw holes. Sand smooth and repaint.

Rip in Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is another builder's staple for kitchens, and with updates in designs and textures it remains popular. But it still has a weakness – tearing. Moving a large appliance, especially one that has been in place for a while, can create quite a rip if it catches the vinyl just right. One fix is to apply a vinyl flooring adhesive and relay the ripped section back down, assuming this section is still attached and the rip follows a natural line in the flooring design. Make sure the underlayment and vinyl flooring are clean, and follow the manufacturer's directions for open time. For ragged rips or sections that have been torn off the flooring, you'll need to do a patch job with a fresh section of vinyl. Hopefully, your flooring is in stock at a home center, or you have leftover flooring from when it was initially put down. Use a utility knife to cut a clean section (following lines in the design) in the old flooring and cut a matching piece from the new or leftover flooring. Use flooring adhesive to attach the new piece. To fill any seams, try using a caulk that matches the flooring color at the seam lines.

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