Hardwood floors a classic flooring choice for homes. Not only are they timeless, hardwood floors have even been proven to add up to 5 percent of value to a home's asking price. But even though they're a go-to for some people, hardwood floors are also prone to scratches, which can hinder the room's aesthetic.

Instead of ripping out the floors and installing new boards or turning to tile or carpet, homeowners have discovered methods of removing scratches through less dramatic procedures. Big or small, deep or merely surface level, there's a way to get rid of most scratches and have your hardwood floors looking new.

wooden boards with scratches

Tools And Supplies

Getting rid of scratches on a hardwood floor doesn't require a master carpenter. For the most part, the scratches can be removed with the right tools, a little know-how and some elbow grease.

Most of the tools and supplies that you'll need to make repairs to your hardwood floors are basic enough, and you might already have some laying around the house. This is especially true for surface scratches, which are easier to remove and require less elaborate tools.

The list of items you might turn to for most repair jobs includes:

  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Protective coating
  • Fine steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • Polyurethane coating
  • Wood filler
  • A putty knife
  • Furniture pen
  • Scouring pad
  • Wax wood repair stick
  • Soft cloth
  • Water

Assess The Damage

Every project should begin by evaluating the individual scratch or scratches to determine the depth. That will help you to decide which method to follow. Typically, there are three types of scratches your hardwood floor can get: the light, surface scuff, minor wood scratches and the deeper wood gouges.

sweeping dust off of a hardwood floor

Getting Rid Of Light Surface Scratches

Fixing the light surface scratches on your hardwood floor is the easiest because it's likely only the protective coating that has been damaged. That means the wood underneath is unaffected, and only the coating needs to be repaired. You can determine if it's a light scratch by checking its depth and looking to see if there's any kind of groove or gouge going into the wood or if it's more of a surface scuff or scratch.

To remove the blemishes, start by making sure the area is clean by vacuuming or sweeping the surroundings, and then zero in on the specific scratched spot and remove any remaining dust with a soft cloth and hardware floor cleaner. Allow the area to dry and then start applying a new coat of the protective seal. If the scratch was only in the protective coating, then the new application of coating should cause the scratch to disappear.

man rubbing cloth onto hardwood floor

Getting Rid Of Minor Scratches

A minor scratch is one that has penetrated the protective coating and affected the hardwood itself and has at least some depth, but isn't quite a gouge either. The repair process starts with a thorough cleaning of the area using hardwood floor cleaner. Then, you'll take the fine steel wool and begin rubbing the edges of the scratch to blend it in with the rest of the panel. Take special care not to rub too hard, and especially not into the center of the scratch because this will only deepen it and make the scratch more pronounced. The goal here is to blend the scratch into the rest of the flooring by wearing the edges down.

Once you're satisfied that the scratch is blending into the floor better, clean the area again, take the wax stick and rub it over the scratched area. The wax will take roughly 10 to 15 minutes to dry. You can then begin buffing the area with a soft cloth. You'll need to re-apply a protective coating to the spot that you've repaired, and then you're done. However, if the scratch is minor enough, the repair process can be as simple as taking a furniture pen that matches the color of your floor and using it to eliminate the discoloration.

wood floor with deep scratches

Getting Rid Of Deep Scratches

Naturally, repairing deep scratches tends to be the most challenging because there's been more damage done to the floor. You'll need to spend more time and effort on this project, but it's still possible to get rid of the scratch.

Again, clean the area that you'll be working on using a soft cloth, some water, and hardwood floor cleaner. If there's a polyurethane coating on your floor, you'll need to use mineral spirits and a scouring pad to remove it. Otherwise, that layer of coating will prevent you from treating the scratch underneath.

When you've gotten down to the scratch, apply wood filler until the crevice has been appropriately filled so that it's level with the rest of the flooring. It's better to overapply than underapply because it's easy to fix excess wood filler.

Once the wood filler has dried (roughly 24 hours after applied), you can use a putty knife and some fine sandpaper (about 200-300 grit) to remove the excess filler and smooth out the roughness. Sand lightly, carefully, and with the wood grain. Going against the grain will cause scarring and might cause more of an issue than the initial scratch.

After the scratch appears flush and blends better with the flooring, clean the area once again and apply a protective coating to seal the floor. These scratch repair strategies might not make all marks disappear entirely, but it will blend them in with the floor and have it looking significantly better.

sanding hardwood floor
Twin Design/Shutterstock

When It's Time To Call The Professionals

While these fixes will take care of most scratches, if your floor is marked by excessive scratches that are especially deep, it might be best to consider having the entire floor refinished.

Refinishing a floor is a time-consuming and challenging project, and while beginners can certainly learn the process, it might be best to consider hiring a professional. If not for the sake of your floors, perhaps for the sake of your sanity.

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