How to Remove Scratches from Wood Floors

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Natural wood floors make for elegant additions for your home, but they can be prone to scuffs and scratching. With pets and small kids, accidents are impossible to prevent, and sometimes, you just need a solution to fix up a scratch.

Scratches on your hardwood floors pose more than just a nuisance. If the varnish was scuffed away, the scratched spot becomes an epicenter for the start of water damage, mold colonies, and wood-eating critters. Hence, at the first sight of a scratch, best to remedy the hiccup before it turns into a worse problem.

If you’re reading this, then you probably have the dreadful problem of finding a scratch or two on your otherwise stunning wooden floor. Whether it’s a fresh scratch or an old mark, we’ll show you 6 DIY ways to remove, buff out, and seal a scratch to make your floors look new again.

Removing Scratches from Wood Flooring - The DIY Way

Scratches can be an eyesore, and professionally having them removed is costly. The best way to completely repair a scratch is to re-do the entire area where the scratch occurred, but this method is time-consuming and expensive.

Thankfully, there are DIY methods that work marvelously on small to moderate scratches. With just a few household staples, and simple home improvement supplies, you can say goodbye to those pesky-looking scratched up floors!

Buff out the Scratch

If your wood floor is unvarnished, or you’re about to refinish the wood, you can try to use a fine grit sandpaper to buff out the scratch. For small, shallow scratches, use a very fine grit between 320 to 400 for light sanding at the surface. For slightly deeper scratches, use a fine grit between 180 to 220 to smoothen out the surrounding area around the scratch. 

Take your sandpaper, and lightly sand around the area of the scratch. Follow the grain of the wood for a more natural pattern. Once the scratch is levelled, and you are happy with the result, take some oil or wax, and re-apply the finish to match the rest of the wooden floor.

For stained wood, use a stain pen or wood stain and spot apply on the area that you buffed away before applying a coat of varnish. Allow to dry before walking on, or laying items on the area.

Use a Wood Stain or Wax Pencil

set of wax pencils

Spot stain pens and wax pencils are commercially available, efficient, and inexpensive options to hide scratches on your wooden floors. Most home improvement stores and some craft stores carry different brands in multiple colors, so you can choose the color that matches the closest to your existing stain.

The best way to test out for a matching color would be to use a piece of scrap wood, checking to see if the color of the pen blends in with the color of your stain. Alternatively, you can test out the color on a hidden area of your hardwood floor, such as underneath heavy furniture, in an unused corner, or under the plank, if possible. 

minwax wood finish stain markers

Use the spot stain pen for shallow scratches, blending in the dye with a soft cloth. For deep scratches, the wax pencil does wonders in levelling out the scratch and blending with the surrounding stain. Simply heat up the wax tip, and layer the wax on the scratch, wiping off the excess and blending out the dye.

Helpful Tip: Check if your wood stain brand also makes a spot stain pen variation so you can match stain colors perfectly! Keep your stain pen and wax pencil in a convenient place for quick fixes on any future scratches.

Check your Pantry - Baking Soda and Olive Oil Method

Little known fact is that baking soda and olive oil can remove shallow scratches on wood. Baking soda is a fine, gentle abrasive that can buff out the scratch, while olive oil forms a protective seal to prevent water and grease damage.

Make a dry paste out of baking soda and a few drops of olive oil. Apply the paste directly on the scratched area on your wooden floor. Allow the paste to sit for 5-10 minutes. Use a clean cloth to buff away the scratch, and wipe off any excess.

This method works best on fresh scratches, and in areas where harsh chemicals are not preferably used (like kitchens, kids’ rooms, and pet rooms).

Use the Walnut Approach

While the idea seems a little nutty, walnuts actually contain natural oils and wood stain that can camouflage and seal the scratch. If you already have walnuts at home, why not try to hide the scratch with a small piece of walnut? Simply rub the walnut into the scratch and allow the oils to oxidize and turn brown.

While convenient, the walnut approach is just a quick fix for wood scratches, as you would need constant application to continue hiding and sealing the scratch. Walnut oil also has the tendency to have a smell when stale, so best to leave this as a temporary fix rather than a permanent repair.

Helpful Tip: Heating up walnuts releases their oils, and makes them more liquid. The friction from rubbing the walnut on the scratch should heat up the walnut enough for the oils to release to the wood. 

Get Spackling

applying wood filler on wall

For chips in the wood, or for larger, damaged areas, it might be a good idea to run to the store and grab a tub of wood filler, along with some spackling tools, sandpaper, a stain pen that matches your existing stain, and painter’s tape.

Use the painter’s tape to form a barrier around the damage, and spackle some wood filler onto the area, making sure to keep the spackle as levelled as possible. Allow the wood filler to completely dry until hardened.

man using sandpaper on wood

Use a fine grit sandpaper (such as 180 to 220) to lightly buff out the spackled area to match the flatness of the surrounding wood. Move along the direction of the grain.

Use the spot stain pen to blend the color of the spackle to the surrounding wooden floor, and wipe away the excess. You may need to use a couple of coats of stain if your wood filler is white. Varnish or finish the repaired area if desired.

This method may take a little more materials and effort, but is a comparably quicker and more affordable way to replacing your floors or parts of your floor altogether. 

Hide the Scratches with a Wood Reviver

brushing a wood

Got more than just a couple of scratches? If your entire floor, or a large area of it, is covered in scratches, you can try your luck with specialized hardwood floor care products. Multiple commercially available brands are specially formulated to bring life back to your hardwood floors.

Scratches are more noticeable when your floors look drab and dull. Revive your floors to a lustrous shine with revival products available on the market to hide the scuff marks and give your floors a glossy sheen.

Just clean the dirt and grime off your floor using a vacuum, broom, or a damp mop. Apply the product, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe, scrub, or rinse as directed until you’re happy with the results. Repeat as directed - most products can last for months to years!

Preventing Scratches on Wood Floor

The best way to get rid of scratches is to prevent them in the first place. While easier said than done, here are a few helpful tips and tricks on how to maintain the condition of your hardwood floors so they can look brand new for decades:

  • Do not drag items, especially heavy furniture, around. When needed, use a rug for better glide and minimal friction on your wooden floors.
  • Trim pet nails, or put up a barrier for your furry friends so they don’t damage your floors. Provide cats with scratching posts meant for its purpose.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaning scrubs, sponges, or the usage of steel wool on your wooden floors.
  • Re-apply wood finish whenever necessary. 

Whatever the reason, scratches can hinder you from fully enjoying the natural beauty of your wooden floors. Proper maintenance is a must in keeping your hardwood flooring looking like new.

Check our blog for more wooden floor cleaning tips!

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