How to Get Scratches Out of Wood Floors: 5 DIY Solutions

These expert tips will help you repair your wood floors—no matter how severe the damage.

Well-maintained wood floors add to your home's aesthetic. However, scratches on wood floors can distract from the polished look of a room. With pets and small kids, it's nearly impossible to prevent minor scratches, but furniture mishaps and heavy foot traffic can result in heavy gouges. Even water damage, mold, and wood-eating critters can leave unflattering marks.

The severity of the damage determines which method is best to tackle wood floor scratches. Designer Ashley Petrone of the home design blog Arrows & Bows shares her best tips to salvage and restore your home's wood floors.

Laminate Wood Flooring Room
Jason Donnelly

Clean Wood Floors

Nothing magnifies the appearance of scratches like dust. Before fixing any scratches, gently clean wood floors using a dust mop or vacuum.

Survey the Damage

Superficial Scratches

Superficial scratchesonly affect the floor's finish.To fix these, Petrone says to "use a walnut to fill in scratches. Rub a walnut on wood, even veneer. The oils from the walnut fill in the wood, and surprisingly work really well. Another natural at-home remedy is coconut oil. Apply a small amount and rub it into the scratch allowing it to penetrate the wood. Wipe off excess and repeat again if needed. If nothing else, your thirsty wood will be very happy."

More solutions for superficial scratches:

  • Use a DIY solution of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Mix the two and apply the mixture to the scratch. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off.
  • Rub a wax stick over the scratch to fill it in. Buff the wax to smooth it out and restore shine to the floor.

Minor Scratches

Minor scratches penetrate the protective coating and damage the surface of the wood. "For surface marks, the trusty old Magic Eraser is your best friend. This is especially great on engineered wood," However, Petrone suggests proceeding with care. "If used too much on a stained hardwood, it can strip your surface slightly, so use with caution."

More options for minor wood scratches:

  • Use a marker or blending pencils to cover the scratches.
  • Rub wood stain over the area to penetrate raw wood, then quickly wipe clean.
  • Use finish restorers, ideal for treating minor scratches across a wide area of the floor.
  • Give your floors a new coat of finish to match the original as closely as possible.

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches and gougesin wood floors take more precision to repair. When addressing hard wood floors, use wood filler and wood stain (like a stain pen), says Petrone. "Simply fill your scratch in with the wood filler, sand it so it's even with your surface, and then use your stain pen to match the color of your floors. Keep a rag handy to wipe away any extras and adjust the color to your desire."

Another option is to use colored wood putty and fill in using a plastic putty knife. Wipe off any excess. Set and dry, sand lightly and buff, then seal with a coat of polyurethane finish.

Heavy Wear and Tear

If the entire floor is covered in scratches and gouges, the best option might be to refinish the entire floor. "You can rent a sander from your local hardware store and sand the floors yourself. It's definitely a lot of work but it will save you big money," Petrone says. The added benefit of this DIY approach is that its gives you the option to stain and seal the floors to your liking rather than sticking with the original color.

Preventing Damage to Wood Floors

After all that hard work getting rid of scratches in wood floors, you'll want to prevent future blemishes. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoid dragging items across the floor, especially chairs and heavy furniture
  • Trim pet nails and get a scratching post for cats
  • Avoid abrasive cleaning products
  • Reapply wood finish when necessary
  • Use rugs, runners, and carpets in high-traffic areas

Don't forget to reapply wood finish. This coating protects floors from everyday wear and tear, but it does need to be refreshed. If you have new wood floors, keep the brand and specifications on hand so you can easily maintain the floors with a similar product years down the line. If you don't know what was previously used, work with a flooring pro to determine the best option among the many choices on the market, including oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, wax coating, varnish, stain, and aluminum oxide coating.

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