Pets are family for many of us, but they can also do serious damage to a house or apartment. While those scratch marks from Fido or Mr. Jinks may be familiar reminders of the furry ones that share your home, a potential homebuyer or your landlord will likely be less impressed. Whether you’re selling your home, moving out of a rental or just want to fix up your place, here’s how you can repair pet damage.
Fix your floors
Untrimmed claws and unfortunate potty accidents can wreak havoc on a home’s floors.
Most hardwood floors have a protective polyurethane seal, but this may not be enough to prevent all scratches and stains.
Surface level scratches can be touched up with a wood stain marker. Deeper scratches or gouges will require wood filler and sanding. When re-staining the floor, begin with the lightest stain possible and allow it to dry before moving up to a darker stain if needed.
If large portions of the floor have been scratched, you will need to sand, re-stain and reseal these areas. Make sure to use a stain and finish that match the current color and sheen.
If you opt to refinish your entire floors, going with a dark stain and a flat finish will minimize the appearance of scratches.
Removing urine stains can be a trickier task. If the stain is light, you can likely sand the area, treat it thoroughly with wood bleach and refinish it. The smell and appearance of darker stains are usually harder to remove, in which case you may need to replace the boards themselves.
Carpets should be spot treated and professionally stained. If stains or smells remain, the carpet and even the padding may need to be replaced. Stained laminate or vinyl floors will likely need to be replaced as well.
Whip your walls back into shape
Pet damage isn’t always limited to the floor as claws and teeth can leave their marks on your walls as well.
Damaged wallpaper can be nearly impossible to repair a seamless way, but there’s more hope for sheetrock.
Begin by sanding the affected area to remove debris and create an even surface. Next, use spackle to fill in any holes. If multiple layers are needed, allow each layer to dry before applying the next. Once finished, sand the area smooth and finish it with matching layers of primer and paint.
For stained materials, removing the affected area is most effective, however, a good odor-free primer may allow you to seal in the smell and the stain.
Overhaul the outdoors
Yards are playground, bathroom and more for many pets, which means these areas can take the brunt of pet damage.
“Burned” patches of grass from pet urine are a common problem.
Since answering the call of nature is a necessity, it’s important to ensure that your pets do their business in a manner that’s the least harmful to your lawn. Creating a purpose-made potty area is one effective strategy. Otherwise, use a watering can to thoroughly douse any fresh urine before its grass-harming nitrogen content damages your grass. Solid waste should also be promptly collected before it fertilizes clumpy patches of grass.
To repair existing minor grass burns, you can simply keep caring for your lawn normally and wait for the damage to heal. Do not apply fertilizer to burns as it may cause even greater harm.
Large or heavily damaged patches will likely need to be reseeded. Rake away as much of the dead grass as possible, apply a thin layer of top soil, sprinkle the soil with matching grass seed and gently water daily with a garden hose for several weeks.
Be sure to fill in and reseed any holes your pet has dug as well. It’s also a good idea to replace landscaping plants or scrubs that have been conspicuously damaged by pets.
Pets can also leave scratch and chew marks on porches, decks, fences and the exterior of your home. Most of this damage can be repaired with sandpaper, wood filler or plaster and stain or paint. For repairing stains, treat the area with a waterproof primer so the stain doesn’t reappear.
Caring for pets means making sacrifices, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your home sale price or rental security deposit. If you’re showing your home to potential buyers, consider keeping your pets and their toys and supplies out of sight, vacuuming to remove pet hair and dander and giving the home a quick dusting with an odor-eliminating air freshener. Hopefully, these tips will make it appear like your pet damage never happened and help you move on to your next home or get back to enjoying your current one.