How can I Remove Scratches from Hardwood Floors?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Hardwood flooring can lend a great deal of texture and warmth to a room. Unfortunately, it is also possible to sustain scratches on hardwood floors, especially if the room sees a great deal of use. If you have hardwood flooring and sustain a noticeable scratch or two, there are a couple of options you can utilize to repair the damage and restore your floors to a pristine condition.

Hardwood flooring.
Hardwood flooring.

One of the first things you want to do is determine if the scratch involves the hardwood floors or is simply a scratch in the protective coating you have on the flooring. In fact, the scratch may simply be a mark in the shellac or the sealant you used to protect the finish. If that is the case, simply buffing the area and reapplying a coat of shellac or sealant will remove the scratch and make your hardwood floors look like new.

A house with hardwood flooring.
A house with hardwood flooring.

If the scratch does actually penetrate the protective layer and damages the wood, assess the length and depth of the scratch. It may be possible to mask the scratch with the use of wood fillers. The fillers can be tinted to match the stain on your floors and make it virtually impossible to detect scratches on hardwood floors. Keep in mind your chances for success using wood fillers is better if your hardwood floors are coated with a darker stain.

When all else fails, it may be necessary to strip your hardwood floors, buff them to a smooth surface, and re-stain the entire floor. While this method is time and labor intensive, it will completely erase any sign of scratches on the floors and will also eliminate issues that are caused by scratches that are too deep to treat with the wood filler. One advantage to this approach is that you can change the look of the hardwood floors by going with a different stain. Not only will you remove the scratches, but you will also give the room a whole new look and feel.

While it is possible to handle minor scratches using filler compounds and hardwood kits, you may find that it is better in the long run to call in a professional when the scratches are deep and highly visible. A professional will know how to strip and buff the floor so that the natural beauty of the wood is preserved, and can also apply the new stain or varnish in an even coat.

When removing scratches from hardwood floors, if all else fails, you may have to strip the floor, buff it, and re-stain the entire surface.
When removing scratches from hardwood floors, if all else fails, you may have to strip the floor, buff it, and re-stain the entire surface.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think this is a job I can do myself. I'll definitely be calling in a professional, but it helps to know that it may be possible to just repair my hardwood floors instead of having to totally replace them.

Would a general contractor be good for the job, or do I need to find some sort of floor expert?


I never even considered that the scratches on our hardwood floors might actually just be scratches on the protective coating.

There are a lot of scratches, but none of them seem very deep. I'll have to find out if the scratches actually reach the wood.

I was afraid that I would have to install new hardwood floors! Thanks for the tips!


We have hardwood flooring in our kitchen. I think we probably use the kitchen more than any other room in the house, so the floor has gone through quite a bit of wear and tear. It has a number of pretty noticeable scratches at this point and I was thinking that I wanted to try to fill the scratches.

But now I am really liking the idea of stripping the whole floor, buffing it, and then going with a completely different stain color. It would be like having a new kitchen!

I think that refinishing the hardwood floor is definitely the way I'm going to go. It takes a much dreaded job and puts a whole new exciting light on it!

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