How to Remove Scratches From Wood Flooring

How to Remove Scratches From Wood Flooring – A Detailed Guide

Beautiful hardwood floors can get damaged by your everyday wear and tear. Anything from walking in heels to moving furniture around can be a problem, causing damages from light scratches to deeper gouges. Removing scratches from hardwood floors might only require some basic repairs, however, the method for hardwood floor scratch repairs is dependent on a few factors. So, to make things easier for you, we will be having a closer look at a few ways you can go about repairing scratched hardwood floors.



How to Fix Scratches on Wood Floor: Before You Begin

When you purchase a new home, you may love the original hardwood flooring. However, as time goes by, you may begin to notice some scratches. Before trying to remedy the problem, it is best to know what type of finish the wood flooring has. Consider the following:

  • Does the wood have a stained finish?
  • If it has a stained finish, is it water or oil-based?
  • Is there a wax coating?
  • Does the floor have a polyurethane finish? If so, is it water- or oil-based?
  • Is there an aluminum oxide coating?
  • Is there an oil finish?

Note that aluminum oxide is applied as a sealed top layer to wood floors and offers excellent scratch-resistant properties. The coating also provides UV protection and will not fade over time. Polyurethane also offers similar protective properties to your wood surface and comes in two main types and various sheens.

Discovering the type of finish you have on the wood surface will help you to choose the right path for repairing scratched hardwood floors.

How to Fix Scratches on Wood Floor

One method you can try to discover the type of finish you are working with is to apply a little acetone to an unobtrusive floor area. Polyurethane will remain intact, while other finishes like varnish, wax, or shellac will come off. When removing scratches from hardwood floors, the repair job will be different for each finish. For example, you cannot follow the same process for both polyurethane-coated wood floors and wax-coated wood floors. You should decide if the actual finish is scratched or if the wood itself is marked.

You should also check to see how deep the damage or scratches are. Are there only light scratches or does the damage go deeper? Sometimes, a simple method to repair scratched wooden floors can be done, whereas, for more serious scratches, you will need to up the ante.

The best course of action to take is to begin with the easier methods and then move on to other, more difficult methods if the simpler ones do not work.

Before you begin your repair process, it is best to clean the area first. Any grime, dust, and dirt must be removed. Both the surrounding area as well as inside the scratches or cracks should be clean, if possible. A simple wax layer can easily be removed by using a wax remover before you begin the hardwood floor scratch repair.



A Tutorial on How to Remove Scratches From Wood Flooring

So, now that you know what type of finish your wood floor has, we can move on to learning how to fix scratches on wood flooring. As mentioned, you will have to adjust your methods depending on the seriousness of the scratch. Is it only superficial or is it a deeper gouge? Let us have a look at some step-by-step instructions for each scenario.

Removing Scratches From Hardwood Floor


Superficial Scratches

The easiest problem is to repair scratched wooden floors that only have superficial scratches. This means that the wood finish is only lightly affected and has not penetrated to the wood. You will need the following:

  • Soft Cloth
  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Water
  • Wood coating

First, take the cloth and wipe down the wood surface using the hardwood floor cleaner – you do not want any dirt or dust getting underneath when you seal the surface later. Then, wipe the surface again, this time with a clean cloth that has been dipped in water. Let the surface dry completely, after which you can then apply the protective layer, whatever that may be, for example, shellac or another sealant. Allow this to dry thoroughly overnight. This only needs to be applied to the affected surface area.

A simpler method is to use a mixture of apple cider vinegar together with some olive oil.

Combine equal amounts and apply the solution to the scratch. Leave this overnight or for the day and use a cloth to clean the area. You can also replace the vinegar with baking soda and a few drops of oil. Another, more unusual method concerning how to remove scratches from wood flooring is to use walnuts.

Take a plain raw walnut and rub the area, moving with the wood grain. Try going over the area a few times, until you notice the scratches disappearing. Brush over the area with your fingers and leave it alone for a few minutes. The oils within the walnut will sink into the wood. Clean the area with a soft cloth and the scratch should disappear. Walnuts can be toxic to animals, so make sure that the area is clean before allowing any pets around.

You can also use any oil like coconut oil for the scratches. There are alternative retail products as well, like the Old English scratch cover used for dark woods. Wood stain markers can also do the trick, although these will only hide the scratches instead of filling them.

Repairing Scratched Hardwood Floor


Light Scratches

These scratches penetrate a little deeper and reach the wood underneath the protective coating. To help in this instance, you will need a soft cloth and some water to clean the area, or you can use wood cleaner. Other items needed include:

  • Fine sandpaper or steel wool
  • Wood markers or wax sticks

Once you have cleaned the area and let it dry, you can then gently rub over the scratch with sandpaper or steel wool. Always go with the wood grain and rub until you do not see the scratches anymore. Carefully buff and feather the surrounding area lightly to help with blending, but do not overdo the buffing with the steel wool. Then, choose a wax stick that best suits the color you have on the floor. Rub the wax stick over the buffed area and then allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Buff the area with a soft cloth and clean with a cloth.

After cleaning in the first step, you can also try to use a wood marker, depending on the severity of the scratch. Test out the marker color on an area that is not obvious, and if satisfied, paint over the scratch with the marker. 


Deep Scratches

This can be a little more complicated and you might want to get in a professional in to do the job. Otherwise, you will have to be comfortable with stripping, repairing, and refinishing the wood surface – you want to be sure of getting the best results without causing more damage. This method of repair includes using wood fillers and sanding the surface. The first step for all repairs includes cleaning the surface and allowing it to dry before moving on.

Hardwood Floor Scratch Repair


Using Wood Filler and Sanding

When using a wood filler for hardwood floor scratch repair, it is a good idea to get a putty filler that matches closely to the wood. Take a putty knife and apply the filler to the deep scratch or gouge. Let the filler dry and then use fine-grit sandpaper to level out the wood surface. Clean the surface with a cloth and then apply a protective coat. Wait for this to dry thoroughly before walking on the surface again.


Working with Polyurethane

When you have a polyurethane coating, you will need to remove it before you can begin repairs. Once you have cleaned the area, you need to dip a scouring pad into some mineral spirits. Lightly rub the damaged area and then wipe clean with a cloth. Let it dry, after which point you can then go ahead with the wood filler and finally apply another fresh protective coat over the wood surface.


Table of Methods for Repairing Scratched Hardwood Floors


Type of ScratchMethod of Repair
Superficial ScratchApplying a fresh protective coat, wood pen markers, or using household items like apple cider vinegar, baking soda and oil, and walnuts will work. You can also use retail products.
Slight ScratchLight sanding using fine sandpaper or steel wool, then using a wax stick. A wood repair marker can also be used.
Deep ScratchThis needs wood filler and sanding, with a new, fresh protective coat over the area.
Larger or more severely damaged areasThis might need professional help, especially if it has a polyurethane coating. You might also need to patch or replace wooden floorboards entirely.



Preventing Scratches on Hardwood Floors

Preventing any damage to your wooden floor is always the best way to go. Unfortunately, you cannot always control things all the time, but you can try to implement a few methods of prevention to avoid major issues. Taking care of and maintaining your hardwood floor is the first step to keeping your floors looking good. This will help to keep the floor clean, allowing you to notice any problems sooner rather than later.

When cleaning the floors, use a microfiber cloth or mop with a good wood floor cleaner. Try to choose a wood cleaner that is safe to use around pets and will not leave any residue behind.

Preventing Hardwood Floor Scratch Repair

When moving furniture, be sure to place padding underneath, as dragging the heavy furniture across the wooden floor is simply asking for trouble. You can also place permanent felt or rubber pads underneath tables and chairs. If you can, try to place lighter furniture items on the surface.

Another cause for damaging wood surfaces is heavy traffic. Wooden floors are quite hardy, but they can be damaged by things like high heels constantly walking over the surface. Other types of shoes may also be guilty of causing damage, so you might want to consider wearing softer indoor shoes and leaving the sharp and dirty shoes elsewhere. Pets are another concern, with sharps claws clattering around all the time. Be sure to trim their nails often to avoid further scratches on the wooden floor.



Tips and Tricks for Hardwood Floor Scratch Repair

As mentioned, the best option is prevention, but if you do eventually have to deal with scratches on your wood floor, the first step would have to be considering the damage. This will then help you decide on the correct repair method. Here are a few more tips:

  • Always use a wood marker or stain that matches your wood surface closely.
  • Wood fillers also come in many colors.
  • Do not wax a polyurethane floor – you will not be able to refinish it in the future.
  • If you do have an abundance of scratches, you might have to redo the floors entirely. This should be done by professionals for the best outcome.
  • Some newly installed floors may still be under warranty, so be careful of what you do.
  • Prevention is best, so try to follow the prevention methods to avoid most issues altogether.
  • When applying wood filler, try using a plastic putty knife to help prevent further scratches.
  • Always remember to clean the area before any repairs are done.

Repair Scratched Wooden Floor



Frequently Asked Questions


How to Remove Scratches From Wood Flooring?

You will first need to ascertain the scope of the damage. Are the scratches only superficial, or are they deeper? You can then decide on the method of repair, which could be anything from using wood markers and wax pens to sanding and using wood filler. Try the simplest methods first, for example, rubbing some oil into the scratch. If that does not work, you will have to try another method.


Can You Use Oil and Vinegar to Repair Scratched Wooden Floors?

Yes, you can use equal amounts of apple cider vinegar together with a little olive oil. Apply this mixture to the scratches and leave it for at least 24 hours. Clean the area with a cloth and repeat if necessary, or until the scratches disappear. You do not want to use this method too often, however, as the vinegar can break down the wood finish.


What Household Products Can I Use to Fix Scratches on Wooden Floors?

There is the vinegar-and-oil method, although you can also replace the vinegar with some baking soda to form a paste. You can also try using mayonnaise or toothpaste – simply apply, wait for a few minutes, and then wipe off. These methods are more for superficial scratches. Remember to always make sure the wood surface is clean before repairing anything.


Can You Use a Magic Erasure on Hardwood Floors?

A Magic Erasure can be abrasive on wooden floors, so it is best not to use it to remove scratches as it might make things worse.


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