Sooner or later an accidental spill, cigarette burn or everyday wear and tear will cause an unsightly blemish on an otherwise perfectly good floor.
Most of those mishaps can be fixed in just a few hours if you have scrap material on hand. Without the extra flooring, it may be difficult to find matching patch material.
Silencing Squeaky Floor Boards
As a wood floor ages, it shrinks and warps causing the floor to separate from the subfloor. Squeaks in the floor are caused by loose boards rubbing against nails or each other.
The best way to repair a squeak is to predrill up through the joist and into the subfloor into the squeaky spot if possible.
Be sure to put a piece of masking tape on the drill bit to mark the proper depth so you don't drill up through the top of the floor. Then, shoot a drywall or deck screw up into the floor. The screw should grab the plank and pull it down tight to the subfloor, eliminating the squeak.
If there isn't a joist in the area of the squeak, simply screw up through the subfloor into the plank. This method isn't as effective, but it may stop the squeak.
Unfortunately, it isn't always possibly to get under a floor. In this case, locate the squeak and drill a trim screw at an angle into this spot. You could use finish nails, but they don't hold as well as trim screws do.
Countersink the screwhead and fill any holes with wood putty.
Replacing Old Floor Boards
Some floor boards are beyond repair and need to be replaced. Often these pieces are under or near an old radiator that has water stained, rotted or warped the wood. Any damaged planks should be replaced before refinishing.
Most flooring has tongue-and-groove joints that interlock the planks. So use a circular saw to remove old floor boards. Cut down the length of the board in the middle, being careful not to hit any good boards.
To avoid accidentally cutting through the subfloor, set the depth of the cut at the thickness of the flooring.
Using a chisel, pry out the sliced board and debris.
Make sure the replacement board is the same size and color as the rest of the flooring.
If you are putting in more than one new board, put in the groove edge first and blind nail over the tongue with finish nails.
Saw off the bottom flange of the groove on the remaining board to be fit. This way the piece will fit firmly on top of the neighboring tongue. Use a scrap of wood to tap the ends into place.
For extra strength, add a bead of wood glue along the tongue and half groove of the last joint that's fitted.
This last strip will also have to be top-nailed. Pre-drill and anchor the strip with finish nails every 12" at opposing angles spaced 1/2" from the edge. Then countersink the nail heads and fill the holes with matching wood filler.
Patching Sheet Vinyl
The most difficult part of repairing a tear or hole in sheet vinyl is finding a replacement piece that matches the existing pattern. Once that's done, patching is pretty basic.
Cut the piece big enough to cover the damaged area, while matching the pattern. Firmly tape down the piece so it won't shift.
Using a sharp utility knife, firmly cut through both layers of vinyl. Use a straight-edge to keep the blade vertical while cutting because leaning the blade may cause a gap in the patch.
Remove both pieces and the taped-on scrap. Clean out all the loose debris and scrape away any old glue.
Test fit the patch to make sure the pattern lines up and no gaps are visible. Apply glue to the area with a notched glue packet (or notched trowel if the area's big enough).
Position the patch and firmly press it down into the glue using a wadded up towel. Force any excess glue toward the edges and wipe clean. Use a hand roller or rolling pin to work out any air bubbles and to seat the patch into the glue.
A damaged section of carpet can be easily replaced if you happen to have a matching scrap piece available. Unless your carpet happens to be popular, it may be very difficult to find a patch.
If you don't have a piece on hand and the area is bad enough to warrant replacing, consider installing a new piece that extends to the nearest seam or transition line in the room, such as a door threshold or wall.
Use a straight-edge (a framing square works well) to cut out a square around the damaged area. Use that piece as a guide to cut out the patch. Note which direction the pile runs and cut the new piece accordingly.
Use carpet seam cement, double-backed carpet tape, or a combination of the two to glue the patch in place.
Weigh down the repair with a heavy, flat object so the patch seats well into the glue as it dries and avoid walking around that area until the glue cures.