Hardwood floors are beautiful but can soon look shabby and untidy if not given the proper TLC.

Foot traffic, pets, scuffs from moving furniture, and moisture can cause stubborn stains, superficial scratches, and deep gouges in your hardwood floors.


Though these are inevitable, you can still restore your hardwood floors’ magnificent character with a few easy steps. Of course, it still depends on the severity of the damage but if it is just nicks and scratches, you can repair them on your own without going over budget.

Shallow Scratches

  1. Wipe the scratched area with a soft damp rag.
  2. Use another clean rag to dampen it with wood stain marker – make sure it matches the color of your hardwood floor.
  3. Lightly press the rag onto the wood stain, focusing on the scratched area, and rubbing it according to the grain of the wood.
  • Stain markers come in different colors, and are readily available in paint depot, hardware stores and home department stores.
  • Rubbing according to the grain of the wood works best to remove the shallow scratches because it allows for a gradual addition of stain.
  • Don’t apply the wood stain marker directly onto the wood stain. Though it can saturate the scratch and make it seem invisible, you may end up making the surrounding surface darker, which will just make the scratch more obvious.

Superficial Scratches

  1. Clean the scratched area with a microfiber cloth. Use a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner to remove any small dust particles or contaminants from the scratched area.
  2. Rinse off the cleaner then let it dry.
  3. Apply a thin layer of top coating such as sealant, shellac, polyurethane varnish, or any kind of protective finish.
  • Ask your local hardware store for advice on the right kind of finish for your hardwood floor.
  • If your hardwood floor has a high gloss polyurethane finish, it would be better to let professionals handle the job.

Fixing Shallow Scratches By Sanding

  1. Clean the scratched area with a clean soft rag to remove any small dirt and dust particles.
  2. Apply a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner then rinse it off with warm-watered damp rag. Let it dry.
  3. Gently sand the scratch using fine steel wool. Follow the grain until it blends in with the surrounding wood and everything becomes uniform-looking.
  4. Remove any dust from sanding with clean soft rag.
  5. Fill in the scratch with a clear wood wax. Let it harden up for at least 10-15 minutes.
  6. Buff the scratch with a clean, soft cloth to remove excess wax, make the scratched area smooth, and restore shine to the hardwood floor.

Fixing Deep Scratches and Gouges

  1. Clean the scratched area with a soft rag filled with a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner.
  2. Rinse it off with warm-watered damp rag then wipe it dry.
  3. Dampen a scouring pad with mineral spirits, and gently rub the scratched or gouged area of the hardwood floor.
  4. With your pointer finger, fill in the scratch with a small amount of wood filler similar to the color of your hardwood floor. Spread the filler in all directions to remove air bubbles.
  5. Remove excess filling with a putty knife. This will also help push the wood filler into the scratch and will ensure that the scratch will get flat and even.
  6. Wood filler may take a few hours up to an entire day to completely dry so check the package information for best results.
  • If your hardwood floors have a polyurethane coating, it has to be removed before you can fix the scratch.
  • Don’t use wood putty as a substitute for wood filler. Wood putty will be ineffective in matching the filling to the color of the floor.
  • If you are inexperienced with woodworking and sealing, it is highly recommended to hire a professional to repair the flooring.