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Repairing Hard Wood Floor Scratches

Repairing Hard Wood Floor Scratches

Hard wood floors provide a warm feeling to any home but over time accidents occur and scratches mount, especially in high traffic areas. It’s almost impossible to avoid but there are ways to fix them without calling a repairman. The most important thing is distinguishing a scratch from a gouge, which is more problematic.

You can usually identify scratches if the discoloration is just in the finish and not in the actually wood. Scratches are easy to remove but holes in the actual wood may need a professional.

If you’ve determined what you have is a scratch here are the items you’ll need to begin work: very fine steel wool or sandpaper, your choice of oil or water based finish (If the finish you’ve chosen is water based don’t use the steel wool), a soft cloth, a fine paint brush, mineral spirits.


1. If the floor is coated with polyurethane take a cloth and dampen the scratched area with mineral spirits.

2. With the fine steel wool or sand paper lightly rub the edges of the scratch in the direction of the grain roughing it up and buffing out the scratch. This will allow the new finish to stick more easily. Remember, you are touching up; there is no need to bare down.

3. Feather slightly past the scratch line to blend with the surrounding area. If you cross the grain use a circular motion to correct it.

4. After roughing up the edges do a very good clean of the area with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits.

5. Allow to dry completely.

6. If stained apply the proper stain using a rag and blend it in with the surrounding area.

7. Depending on size of scratched area apply polyurethane with a brush. If the scratch is small use a fine brush. The key is trying to blend the repair with the rest of the floor.

8. Allow to dry for several hours and repeat if necessary.

There are alternatives to the above:

• Urethane repair kits are available in hardware stores.

• A natural method: Mix one part olive oil and vinegar shaking vigorously. Pour a small amount on the scratch rubbing lightly into the wood. Let it sit for 12 -24 hours and repeat until the scratch disappears.

NOTE: If you have a polyurethane floor and you just removed all the scratches never apply wax as doing so will prevent application of future coats.