Hardwood Floor Scratches (doc)

Hardwood Floor Scratches:
Get Rid of Those Blemishes on Your Floor

Hardwood floor scratches are the bane of many a homeowner. Even the most careful person can accidentally scratch the finish on a hardwood floor and ruin the look of the whole room! On the other hand you don’t want to tiptoe around on the floor – you want to live in your home – so these fix-it tips may come in handy.

Fortunately, most scratches can be repaired at home. Let’s look at how you can fix these blemishes yourself.

Assess the Damage

The first step in dealing with wood floor scratches is to assess the damage. Make sure that your first course of action is to clean the area with a damp cloth or a hardwood floor cleaner. Often, what you think is a scratch is simply dirt or a scuff.

If that is the case, then all it needs is a good cleaning - and problem solved! When cleaning the area with a cloth does not help, then you are dealing with hardwood floor scratches – not dirt.

Take a closer look at the scratch you are dealing with. If it's only in the finish then it will be easy to repair. Can you see any wood lighter than your floor showing through? If not you probably just have a surface scratch in the finish. If the scratch goes deeper into the wood itself this is taken care of a bit differently.

Repairing Surface Hardwood Floor Scratches

Hopefully, the only scratches you will ever have to deal with are surface scratches where only the finish is affected. You might get away with just camouflaging scratches with a stain marker, specifically made for this purpose.


These types of hardwood scratches can be repaired, simply by lightly sanding or rubbing the area with steel wool or fine sand paper. Always sand with the grain and careful to sand just the scratch and not the area around it. Then apply a little of the original finish to the area with a small brush, spreading it out and blending into the floor seamlessly. Once dry just buff with a cotton cloth and presto – good as new.

There are also commercial polyurethane repair kits that you can buy to repair polyurethane finishes on your floors. If your floor is waxed, simply using a little wax then buffing the area should work.

Make sure that you do not over apply the finish that you are using to repair the area, or you may make the problem worse rather than better!

Repairing Deep Hardwood Floor Scratches

If your examination of the scratches has revealed that they go deep into the wood itself, then simply repairing the finish won’t be enough to solve the problem.

The first thing you will need to do when you are dealing with deep scratches in your hardwood floor is to clean and lightly sand the area, again sanding with the grain. Remove any loose particles in the scratch itself, and make sure it is dry.

Use a putty or wood filler that matches the surrounding wood, and fill the scratch or scratches, using a plastic putty knife or other plactic tool that won’t scratch the floor any further. Remember that putty or wood filler can shrink while it dries, so overfill the scratches slightly to allow for this.

Once the filler has dried completely, you will need to sand the area again, to remove any excess from the surface of the wood. Once you have achieved a smooth, even surface and cleaned out any dust from sanding, treat the area that you have filled with the same finish as the rest of your floor.

Again, apply a little of the original finish to the area with a small brush, spreading it out and blending into the floor seamlessly. Lambs wool applicators are best for applying polyurethane finish to avoid bubbles, but for a very small area you might get away with a brush.

Remember that when it comes to hardwood floor scratches, this type of floor repair will improve the appearance of your floor but it may not look exactly the same as the remainder of the floor. Hopefully though it will only be with close examination that any traces of the damage are revealed.

Not to worry though, unless the scratches are in a very prominent part of the floor it should be enough to repair them this way. If you are really serious about getting a more seamless, undetectable repair, you may want to hire a professional. You can weigh the pros and cons of this depending on price, your time & effort spent and your confidence in repairing hardwood floor scratches yourself.

Preventing Hardwood Floor Scratches

Prevention is - as they say - better than cure and if you want to make sure that your hardwood floors stay looking great for a long time, preventing scratches is the simplest way to do that!

  • Make sure that you vacuum, sweep, and damp (not wet) mop the floor regularly, to remove dust, sand and grit.
  • Fit the feet and legs of furniture with felt or carpet, to make sure that it slides easily and try to pick up furniture rather than sliding it across the floor – this is asking for trouble. You can cut your own pads from felt or buy some specially made:

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  • Use rugs and mats in high traffic areas to prevent scratches from shoes or pets.

If you follow these simple prevention methods, you should hardly ever have to deal with hardwood floor scratches and you will save time and money on hardwood floor maintenance and repair!

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