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How To Fix Scratches on Hardwood Floors

Updated Jan 16, 2023

Updated Jan 16, 2023

Home > Flooring > How To Fix Scratches on Hardwood Floors

If you’ve got hardwood floors in your home, you know they can bear the brunt of a lot of activity. From everyday walking to moving furniture, hardwood floors can take a lot of wear and tear. Occasionally, hardwood surfaces can develop scratches — some more serious than others.

Luckily, there are many options to repair scratches on your hardwood floors. We’ve explored some of the most common causes and solutions to hardwood floor damage. Read through our guide to learn more about scratch repair on hardwood floors.

What Causes Scratching on Hardwood Floors?

hardwood floor with furniture
Image Source: Canva

Hardwood floors are a beautiful accent to a home. Hardwood flooring adds to your home’s aesthetic and value, whether brand new or vintage. Though hardwood flooring is durable, it’s susceptible to damage if you’re not careful. These are some of the most common causes of damage to a hardwood floor:

Furniture

Moving furniture is one of the most common causes of hardwood floor damage. Lifting furniture rather than pushing, pulling, or dragging it can prevent scratches. Minor movements over time can also cause damage. 

Small movements can create gouges in the flooring if you have particularly heavy pieces of furniture. Using felt or cork furniture pads on the bottom of your furniture is an excellent way to prevent gouging in hardwood floors.

Pets

No doubt, pets can bring a lot of joy into our lives. However, having a pet can be a source of stress if you’ve got hardwood floors. Though some types of flooring are more pet-friendly, dog and cat claws generally damage the finish on a hardwood floor and can cause visible surface scratches.

Trimming your pet’s claws is the best way to prevent damage to your hardwood floors. It’s possible to trim your pet’s nails yourself, though groomers and veterinarians also offer this service. Maintaining the length of your pet’s claws will go a long way in preventing damage to flooring.

Shoes

Wearing shoes on hardwood floors causes more damage than you may think. While cleats or high heels may seem like the obvious culprits, even soft-soled shoes can cause damage. Grit, sand, rocks, and other grime and debris carried on the bottom of your shoe presses into the floor and can damage the finish over time.

Removing your shoes inside the house is an easy way to prevent damage to the surfaces of your hardwood floors. It’s also critical to clean your floors regularly to prevent a buildup of potentially harmful debris. While sweeping and vacuuming are great ways to clean up dust and dirt, ensure your flooring can handle wet cleaning before you mop it to prevent water damage.

Assess the Level of Damage

While avoiding scratching your hardwood floors is possible, it’s important to assess any damage that may be present. Identifying and assessing damage is critical in deciding how to repair a scratch. We’ve outlined the various levels of damage below.

Surface Scratches

Surface scratches are generally light scratches that have only damaged the finish on top of your hardwood flooring. These types of scratches are the most minimal and easiest to repair.

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches penetrate the wood finish of your flooring and scratch the wood underneath. Deep scratches require more effort to address but are still fairly easy to repair.

Gouges

Gouges in your wood flooring present themselves as a recessed area or hole. Gouges are the worst scratches, requiring the most attention to repair.

Once you’ve assessed the damage to your flooring, you can determine the best method to repair it. If the damage is fairly minimal, repairing it should be straightforward. If a variety of damage is present, the process may be more complicated.

Repairing Scratches in Your Floor

hardwood floor maintenance with cloth
Image Source: Canva

While serious damage may require a total overhaul, repairing scratches or gouges and restoring your floor is a manageable DIY home improvement task. To help, we’ve outlined some common methods used to repair scratches.

1. Give your floors a gentle cleaning.

The first method to try in wood floor repair is cleaning the area you want to repair. Sweep or vacuum the area, then soft mop after spraying a thin layer of gentle cleanser. We recommend a mixture of a few drops of natural or biodegradable soap and a quart of water. A cleaning may be the only thing needed to remove minor scratches from your floor’s finish.

2.  Treat scratches with natural oils.

Natural oils contain wood-restoring properties and can be used on finished or unfinished surfaces. Small scratches can be treated by rubbing a walnut over the affected area, applying a thin layer of coconut oil, or applying a thin paste of baking soda and olive oil. Make sure to finish by buffing out the area with a soft cloth after applying any oil because this will enhance the appearance of the wood.

3. Apply stain to minimize the appearance of scratches.

Some scratches on your wood flooring can be repaired by camouflaging them. Use fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool to remove the finish for larger scratched areas. Buff scratches or scuffs with the sandpaper, making sure to go with the direction of the wood grain to avoid further scratches. Then, apply a layer of wood stain and finish. A stain marker, wax stick, or crayon can repair smaller scratches. Regardless, you always want to test for a color match in an inconspicuous area before applying any stain, wax, or crayon.

4. Use wood filler for serious scratches.

You’ll need to use wood filler for deeper scratches, gouges, or holes. There are various types of wood filler on the market; some can be sanded, stained, or painted, and others are pre-colored. Once you apply the wood filler, sand and color match as needed, and apply a protective coating, like a varnish, oil-based or water-based polyurethane.

5. Perform a total overhaul.

Sometimes, the most efficient and effective method for repairing scratches in the wood floor is to sand them down completely and refinish them. While this does require the most effort, it’s possible to DIY, and you end up with a floor that is essentially brand new.

Preventing Further Damage

dog sitting on a hardwood floor
Image Source: Canva

If you’ve repaired the scratches on your floors, you’ll want to keep them protected to maintain their appearance. Removing your shoes, keeping your pet’s claws trimmed, or placing rugs throughout the house will go a long way in preserving your wood floors. Sometimes scratches are unavoidable, though, and keeping these things on hand will help you repair scratches as quickly as they happen:

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Refinishing oil
  • Stain pen
  • Wax stick
  • Wood filler

Being prepared and diligent about repairing scratches will help you preserve the look of your wood flooring for as long as possible.

Getting Professional Help

While many homeowners can manage hardwood floor scratch repair on their own, sometimes it can be a good idea to call in the professionals. Flooring contractors are familiar with all types of flooring and finishes, from engineered wood to aluminum oxide pre-finished flooring. Various types of flooring may require different treatments or, in the case of sagging or buckled floors, professional remediation. Contact a professional if you feel unsure of yourself and don’t want to risk damaging your floors further.

Closing Thoughts

If you want to refresh the appearance of the wood flooring in your house, repairing scratches and restoring the finish is a fairly simple job. However, if the damage is more serious, you may need an overhaul and professional help.

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