How to repair scratched hardwood floors

From Scuffs to Shine: Mastering Scratched Hardwood Floor Repairs

Hardwood floors are universally admired for their natural beauty and timeless elegance and have always been a popular flooring choice for those who can afford them. They bring warmth and character to any room and last for generations when cared for properly. Unfortunately, they’re not immune to scratches and scrapes despite their durability. Whether caused by the paws of a beloved pet, a carelessly dragged piece of furniture, or just the hustle and bustle of daily life, these unsightly little imperfections can quickly detract from the overall charm and beauty of an otherwise stunning floor.

Luckily for you, fixing these nicks isn’t as challenging as you might think. With the right tools and just a bit of patience, you can easily restore your hardwood floors to their former glory.

This article will guide you through the steps of fixing minor scratches and scrapes to the point where no one will ever know that they were there in the first place. Just a heads up; fixing deep gauges of more than 5mm, removing stains, and dealing with major cracks or water damage is a whole different game, and we’ll cover that in another article.

 

Step 1: Assess the damage and gather your tools

Depending on the exact nature of the damage, you will have to grab a few extra supplies. We strongly recommend checking all your floors for damage so that you can fix it all in one sweep. 

For light surface scratches of less than 2mm deep, you will need:

  • Fine steel wool or med-high grit sandpaper (220-grit should do the trick)
  • Clear wood finish or polish (wax) in a shade that matches your floor. 
    • Note: it’s easier to get away with a clear finish on lighter floors. Hardwood floors with darker stains might require a coloured wax if the scratch is deep enough to penetrate the stain and has exposed the lighter wood underneath.
    • If your floors are quite new, you could go for water-based urethane finish, as they dry quickly with a clear and shiny finish. Older floors that have naturally darkened with age are better repaired with an oil-based urethane that darkens with time.
    • Extremely light scratches can be tackled with a wax stick.
  • A soft cloth or sponge
  • Cleaning supplies

For deeper scratches of 2mm or more, you’ll also need some sort of filler material. Wood fillers or putties are readily available. Remember to grab a putty knife, or you could use an old plastic card like a credit card or the like instead.

Matching the colour is the hardest part of this entire process. To ensure that you get it right, take a well-lit photo (natural light works best) on your phone and take it with you to the hardware store. The assistants should be able to help you get just the right shade. Another option is to get a hardwood floor repair kit that comes with a variety of shades of wax. You’ll pay a bit extra for the ones you end up not using, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the right shade.

Pro tip: if you’re repairing multiple scratches, start with one that’s out of sight. Look for scratches under a bed or piece of furniture, and repair them first. This will allow you to evaluate the final colour matching and give you a free shot at practising applying the finish.

Step 2: Prepare the area

No matter how deep the scratches are, you’ll have to properly clean the floors and let them dry. Wax and polish don’t stick well to dust and can leave an undesirable surface finish. Allow the area to properly dry. 

If you’re only dealing with light scratches, gently sand the area in the same direction as the wood grain. This will remove any sharp edges and create a better surface for the finish to adhere to. Once you’re done, wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any new dust, allow the area to dry, and go to step 3. 

For deeper scratches, use the putty knife or applicator tool in the repair kit to gently fill the scratches with the wood filler. Make sure to fill it entirely, then smooth it out to ensure that it’s flush with the floor surface and wipe away any excess. Allow the filler material to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it’s dry, lightly sand the area in the direction of the wood grain and wipe away any dust with a damp cloth.

 

Step 3: Apply the finish

Dab a bit of clear wood finish (or wax polish for darker floors) on a small sponge or cloth and gently rub it onto the affected area. Remember, oil-based wood finishes will darken over time as they cure, so only use a little bit at a time. Make sure to blend the finish into the surrounding area by applying thin layers at a time and removing any excess finish before it has a chance to dry 

If you’re working with any wax-based finish, we recommend holding the tube in your hands for a few minutes to soften the wax. This will make it a lot easier to work with and guarantee a more uniform final look.

 

Step 4: Prevent further damage

 

While repairing scratches and scrapes on hardwood floors isn’t too difficult, avoiding them in the first place is obviously the best choice. Follow these tips to keep your floor looking shiny and new for longer.

  1. Avoid dragging heavy furniture over wood floors. This is the single biggest culprit in the world of floor scratches, often leaving long and/or deep scratches in heavily trafficked areas. Always lift furniture when moving it, or better yet, apply small furniture pads that are cheap and readily available to the feet of couches, chairs, and beds.
  2. Protect our floors in heavily trafficked areas with rugs or mats. These typically include hallways and wherever people put on or take off their shoes.
  3. Regularly sweep your hardwood floors. Small pebbles, shards of glass, or other hard debris stepped into the house from outside can quickly turn a beautiful hardwood floor into a scratchy mess.

 

When to leave it to the pros

While small or even medium scratches are easily taken care of on a weekend DIY run, deeper scratches or gouges can be a bit trickier to take care of. The same is true for a hardwood floor with hundreds of small scratches all over after years of neglect. Water damage, buckled floors, or insect damage make it extremely difficult to take care of yourself without the right tools and expert knowledge. In these cases, getting a professional over to give your hardwood floors some tender, loving care is highly recommended. 

The team at WeRestoreSurfaces specialises in bringing hardwood floors back to life. With our expertise, state-of-the-art tools, and a passion for perfection, we ensure your floors look their best and last a lifetime. If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult the pros. After all, your hardwood floors deserve nothing but the best!

 

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