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10 Tips for Wood Floor Scratch Repair

Do you have ugly scratches in your wood floors? You can make those imperfections go away—or at least make them less visible. Here are our best tips for wood floor scratch repair.

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restoration of wooden countertops with hot wax,restoration of fittingsRoman Budnyi/Getty Images

Handy wood floor scratch repair tips

There’s nothing like a good wood floor in a home. Not only does a wood floor look fabulous, it can even increase your home’s value. That’s a win-win for your decor and your wallet! But let’s be real—life happens, and while following your cleaning schedule and scrubbing your hardwood floor, you may notice it’s dinged with spots and scratches. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful wood floor scratch repair tips to remedy those unsightly scuffs.
Use the handy tricks below to repair that dinged-up hardwood floor and restore it to its former glory. Then, read up on the cleaning products to never use on hardwood floors and how to clean a carpet so it looks good as new.
Red paintbrushes in front of white paint cans getting ready to stain a floorEFETOVA ANNA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Understand what finish is on your floor

Before you start this home improvement idea, it’s important to know what kind of finish is on your floor. Is your finish oil-based or water-based? Do you have a wax coating? Is the wood varnished or stained? Is there an aluminum oxide coating? Know what the surface is made of so you know how to start your wood floor scratch repair.

Cleaning the wood floors with a thin yellow sponge and gloveTOMMASO79/SHUTTERSTOCK

Clean the trouble spot thoroughly

Start by cleaning the entire area around the scratch. You will want to remove all traces of dust and grime on the floor before you begin any other steps. Pay close attention to the inside of the crack itself, which should be totally free of dirt, if possible. If you have a wax layer, use a wax remover solution to clear away the wax before you begin the repair.

Using apple cider vinegar and olive oil to wipe the scratches out of a wood floorCUNAPLUS/SHUTTERSTOCK

For small scratches, try a DIY solution

If you have a small, single scratch that’s only noticeable when you get close (like a scratch caused by an excited pet) and your floor has a relatively new finish, try a DIY home solution first. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil in a small cup, and dab the mixture into the scratch. Leave it for the rest of the day, then rub it out. This method often takes care of minor scratches.

repair restoration laminate flooring parquet and wood products.sealing scratches and chips. master processes the surface with a special pencil to remove scratches close-upRoman Budnyi/Getty Images

Darken the scratch with a blending pencil

Blending pencils are specifically designed to fill in wood scratches that appear as lighter-colored marks on the floor. Make sure you pick the right color for your floor, and try this often-successful treatment for minor scratches. Don’t forget to read these helpful tips for cleaning vinyl floors.

Woman rubbing the wood floors with a finish restorerPLANTIC/SHUTTERSTOCK

Use a finish restorer for light scratches

A finish restorer is designed to help treat faded finishes or light scratches distributed across a wide area of your hardwood floors. These restorers can be effective in treating minor scuffs, especially if the wood itself has not been damaged. By the way, make sure you don’t use these cleaning products on wood floors.

Yellow brush painting a new coat of finish on a dark hardwood backgroundNICK VAKHRUSHEV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Treat medium scratches with a new coat of finish

If you face medium scratches that show only slight damage, you may be apply to apply a new coat of finish to the area without having to refinish the floor entirely. Make sure the finish matches the original as closely as possible. If the wood was stained but has no finish, you may be able to get similar wood floor scratch repair results by re-applying the stain to help hide the scratch. Now that’s a good home improvement!

Home renovation, parquet sanding, polishingfotokostic/Getty Images

Lots of scratches? Sand and refinish

If your floor has noticeable scratches throughout, your best option is to sand down the floor and refinish it. A complete sanding removes scratches, but beware: This only works on real wood floors, not bamboo. If you have an engineered wood floor with a real wood surface, make sure the real wood surface is more than one millimeter thick—sanding usually takes at least this much wood off the surface, so a thicker layer is required for a complete sanding. Once you get this done, learn how to mop your hardwood floor the right way.

Person using a chisel to add in wood filler before finishing the new floorsWELZEVOUL/SHUTTERSTOCK

For wide gouges, use wood filler

DIY home improvement tip: If the scratches in your wood floor are really more like gouges, your first step should be to use a wood filler to fill in the gaps before applying stain and finish.

Man using a sander on the hardwood floors to fix the imperfections in his houseSTEVE HEAP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Sand down imperfections

If your floorboards are showing signs of heavy damage, they may have ridges and other uneven spots. Your best bet is to sand these down to flatten your floor and avoid headaches in the future. Here’s how to sand down your floor. For major wood floor scratch repair, you may have to rent a floor sander.

Man replacing a section of his hardwood floors with new planks for a home renovationLEVENT KONUK/SHUTTERSTOCK

Patch or replace badly damaged floorboards

If the damage to your floor is severe, you may need to replace the damaged floorboard(s) entirely. If you can’t find matching floorboards, you can at least patch the affected area.

Sources:

  • Macon Hardwood: “How Many Times Can You Sand and Refinish an Engineered Wood Floor?”
The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman