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Repairing Scratched Hardwood Floors

Scratched hardwood floors in historical properties possess character and richness. However, you probably don’t live at a historical property, so when your own hardwood floors are scratched, you might find it a lot less interesting.

Residential solid hardwood or engineered wood floors are often scratched in glaringly obvious ways. Prominent dog claw marks, gouges from furniture legs, and hairline scratches can stand out against otherwise flawless wood.

While deep sanding with an electric floor sander will bring down many of those scratches, sanding is messy and invasive. Also, if you have engineered wood floors, the top layer of hardwood veneer is so thin that deep sanding is not possible.

Isolating and repairing scratches in wood flooring is a simpler, lower-cost option than sanding the entire floor, plus it will help preserve the health of your hardwood floors for years to come.

Tools and Supplies You Will Need
– Fine grit sandpaper
– #0000 grade super-fine steel wool
– Tack cloth
– Hardwood floor cleaner
– Multi-pack floor color marker paste
– Solvent based wood filler
– Matching wood stain
– Putty knife


There is no single way to repair all scratches in all types of hardwood flooring. Rather, you need to first assess the type of scratches you have, whether they are fine or deep, then decide on the repair method in conjunction with the floor’s appearance. Repairs short of deep sanding involve a selective toolkit of methods that fade, blend, and color the scratches to reduce their contrast against the rest of the flooring. When purchasing the multi-pack of floor colorants, choose a resin-based paste specified for flooring and not the waxy markers often referred to as crayons that are more suitable for furniture. For the steel wool, avoid soap-impregnated products such as Brillo.

Assess the Flooring and Scratches

Site-finished hardwood flooring, the type that is installed unfinished and later finished in place, is easier to repair than pre-finished hardwood flooring. Site-finished wood flooring’s protective coating is relatively easy to sand. Pre-finished wood flooring’s multiple urethane and aluminum oxide layers form a tough skin that can defeat sanding and blending efforts. Scratches that run parallel to the wood grain can be color-blended more effectively than cross-grain scratches.

Clean the Working Area

Before beginning any scratch repair, the wood floor must be thoroughly cleaned on and around the area of the scratches. First, remove as much debris as possible with a soft-bristled broom and a dustpan. Next, use a commercial cleaning product suitable for hardwood floors. Do not use waxes or pastes since the intent is only to clean the flooring, not to seal it. Avoid cleaners that leave a shine or protective coating behind. For especially dirty hardwood flooring, choose an oxygenated floor cleaner.

To be continued!

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