9 Surefire Ways to Get Scratches Out of Your Wood Floors

Taylor Sansano
Written by Taylor Sansano
Updated May 13, 2022
Boy sitting on the floor playing with animal figurines toys
Photo: Catherine Delahaye / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Remove scratch marks and bring your hardwood back to life

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Scratches from pets, furniture, and kids are some of the most common problems with wood flooring, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the unsightly marks forever. Depending on the depth and number of scratches, you can pursue a variety of removal methods, ranging from easy to complex. Try any or all of these nine scratch repair solutions and enjoy your newer-looking floors.

1. Start With a Clean Floor

Man using vacuum cleaner to clean hardwood flooring
Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Take the time to clean your hardwood floors using a soft mop or vacuum before you begin any of the methods below. Make sure to remove all dust and dirt from the floor, taking extra care when cleaning the crack or scratch. 

​​If the top layer of your floors is wax, use a wax remover solution to clear it away as well.

2. Mix a DIY Solution

To treat tiny scratches on floors with a relatively new finish, you can whip up a DIY solution at home. 

Combine 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, and rub it out. 

3. Apply Formulated Scratch Repair

If your DIY solution didn’t work, you can try a scratch repair product from your local hardware store. It can hide surface-level scuff marks and thin scratches without much work on your part. 

Simply rub the repair product into the scratched surface using a soft cloth, following any additional information on the product label.

4. Sand out Scratches

In some cases, all you need is a little elbow grease to get scratches out of your hardwood floors. Depending on the severity of the scratches, you may be able to do patchwork sanding and staining, or you may need to sand and completely refinish your flooring.

  • For 1-2 small scratches: First, sand the floor in the direction of the grain. You’ll need to reapply the stain you’ve buffed away in the process, so choose a hidden area (under the bed, in a closet) to patch-test a wood stain that matches your floor color. After you find the right one, patch-test a urethane finish.

  • For multiple large scratches: If you’re dealing with several scratches throughout your living space, your best bet is to sand down the flooring and refinish it. This only works on real wood floors, not bamboo or laminate. For engineered wood flooring, make sure the surface is at least 1mm thick to allow the sanding to take off the scratched surface. 

But before you get out your sander, figure out if your flooring is traditional hardwood or engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is thinner and can’t be sanded and refinished indefinitely like traditional hardwood flooring, so you’ll want to take extra precautions with your repairs.

5. Color in Scratches 

Fixing hardwood floor scratch with a blending pencil
Photo: Roman Budnyi / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Fix your scratches aesthetically with a wood stain or a blending pencil. Here are a few options to choose from:

  • Oil-based stains: Provide the richest color and best longevity, but dry slowly 

  • Water-based stains: Widely available and easy to use, but not as long-lasting

  • Combination stains: Designed for polyurethane finishes, including previously painted wood

  • Blending pencil: Easy to use, but may require multiple pencils and color combinations for a perfect match

Once you find the right stain or pencil formula for your wood’s finish, fill in the scratch completely with the color. Use a cotton swab or corner of a cloth to remove any excess stain and let the color dry thoroughly according to package directions.

6. Get Nutty

Certain nuts, including whole walnuts and coconut oil, can actually help restore your hardwood floors.

  • Walnuts: The brown dyes found naturally in these nuts can help camouflage scratches and revive worn wood. To use, warm up the natural oils in the nut by rubbing it between your hands. Then, use circular motions to rub the walnut into worn areas of the floor. Let the oil sit for a few minutes, then buff with a soft cloth. 

  • Coconut oil: Use coconut oil to minimize the appearance of scratches on unfinished or sanded flooring. Simply brush on a thin coat of oil and let it sit for five minutes. Then, buff with a soft cloth.

7. Patch Deeper Gouges

For deeper scratches in your flooring, use a wood filler instead. With wood filler, you can choose from a variety of stains to find a perfect match for your floors. 

Use a putty knife to apply wood filler to the gouge, using shallow layers to fill the hole. Once you’ve filled it, let the area dry completely and sand until flush with the surface. Then, apply the stain. 

This option is best for small but deep holes or cracks in your hardwood.

8. Restore the Finish

Treat light scratches along the surface of your hardwood with a finish restorer. This product is an effective solution when treating minor scuffs on the surface that haven’t damaged the wood. 

If your scratch has penetrated the finish and damaged the wood itself, you’ll need to refinish your hardwood flooring completely by sanding the area and restaining it. This can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming and is sometimes best left to a hardwood restoration company.

9. Call in a Professional

Scratches in hardwood aren’t only unsightly; they can be risky too. If left exposed for too long, they can trap moisture and lead to further damage (and more expensive repairs). 

If you feel uncomfortable tackling this project on your own or are worried about further damaging your flooring, you should contact a professional restoration company near you. This can cost anywhere between $1,070 to $2,490.

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