How to Fix Scratches on a Hardwood Floor

If your hardwood floors are littered with scratches, don’t fret — here are some helpful tips for fixing them good as new.

Scratches on hardwood floors can bring a certain charm to a home, but in most cases, you’ll want to fix them pronto to keep your floors looking beautiful, and your home valuable. Here’s a few tips for fixing pesky scratches for good.

Know Your Stain

The first step is to know how your floor was finished, so you can match it as closely as possible when fixing the scratch. You’ll need to find a stain that matches the color exactly, and the same type of finish on the rest of the floor. This could be an oil- or water-based polyurethane, a wax coating, or a varnish. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to patch test somewhere it won’t be noticeable, like the floors of your closet or underneath a piece of furniture, so you can be sure it’ll match the rest of your floor.

Clean the Area

You’ll also need to ensure that you’re working on a thoroughly cleaned surface in order for your fix to work. Use a broom and dustpan, or vacuum, to clean up as much debris as you can, then use a cleaning solution designed for hardwood floors. Just make sure that you aren’t using a cleaner with any wax or polish added — you just need to clean for this step. For extra grimy floors, an oxygenated hardwood floor cleaner might do the trick.

Try an Easy Fix, First

For very small scratches and dings, you can try a minor solution first using two household ingredients: olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use regular distilled white vinegar, too. Mix equal parts of the two together and lather it on the scratch. Leave it on for a few hours, and then rub it off. If this doesn’t do the trick, move onto some heavier duty solutions.

Wax and Buff

Pick up some wood wax next: it can come clear, or in common wood colors. Rub the wax stick into the scratch, which should fill it in, and then use a plastic knife to ensure it’s going into the surface. Let it sit for a bit, then, buff out the wax using a clean cloth to ensure a smooth surface, and then refinish the floor if necessary.

Use Wood Filler

Another option to try is using a wood filler, which is great for deep scratches and gouges. Using a putty knife, press the wood filler into the scratch and smooth it down, while trying not to spread it beyond the scratched area. Wipe off any excess product, and then let it dry for a few hours. Once it’s fully dried, use some sandpaper to smooth it out (without sanding down the rest of the floor), then stain the filler using your matching wood stain and finish as needed.

Sand and Refinish

Sometimes, you might just need to sand out the scratch to buff it out before refinishing. First, use fine-grained sandpaper on the scratch, and only sand in the direction of the wood grain — going against the grain will cause further damage. Then, apply stain the same color as your floor, and finish as required.

If your floor is littered with scratches, it might be time for a full refinishing, too. You can sand down your entire floor and refinish all at once. Be careful if you have engineered wood floors as opposed to real wood, as you likely won’t be able to sand the floor down more than a couple of times in its life before needing to be fully replaced.

Photo credit: CapturePB/Shutterstock

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