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My Hardwood Floor Is Scratched - What Should I Do?

People love wood floors for their elegant look, durability, and when cared for properly, they can last for several generations. But like any flooring style, wood floors are subject to wear and tear and need regular maintenance to remain looking great. Over time, scratches and scuffs are bound to appear on the surface of wood floors. The good news is that there are many things that you can do to help remove unsightly scratches.

Section of a dark hardwood floor with a few scratches.

How to Remove Scratches from Hardwood Floors

Clean Them
A dirty floor can make any scratches or blemishes stand out, so a nice, gentle cleaning is always a good way to bring out its shine and hide defects. Use a product that's designed for wood floor cleaning. Apply the solution with a dry mop, then gently buff the floor using clean water and a clean cloth. Doing this won't remove any scratches, but it will help improve the wood floor's appearance and make them less noticeable.

Sand Scratches Out

If the scratches aren't deep, you should be able to sand them out yourself fairly easily. Simply take a sheet of sandpaper and sand it out, working in the direction of the wood grain. After you've removed any scratches, be sure to apply the stain and touch up the area of the floor that you worked on. If you're sanding out numerous scratches, it might make sense to stain the entire floor, so the finish doesn't look uneven.

Color Them In

Rather than remove scratches, you can hide them by coloring them in with wood stain. Use a Q-tip to clean out any dirt or debris that is captured in the scratch and then apply the stain to the area to minimize its appearance. If you don't want to apply stain to hide a scratch's appearance, stain markers or blending pens/pencils are another option.

Apply Wood Filler

If you have deeper scratches but don't want to have your floors refinished, then you may want to consider patching them with wood filler. Wood filler is nice in that it can be sanded and stained to blend in seamlessly with your floor.

Professional Refinishing Is Occasionally Necessary

Part of caring for your wood floors is occasionally refinishing them. It's typically recommended that this is performed about once every 10 years, and you may want to seek a professional for the best results. Hardwood floor refinishing involves sanding off a thin layer of the entire floor, which removes any scratches or blemishes, and then applying finish so the floor looks like new again.

Prevention Is Key

There are many things that you can do to help minimize the potential for scratches and other damage. For instance:

  • Place doormats by entry points: Doormats can capture dirt and debris that may otherwise cause damage to the floor. You may also want to have guests remove their shoes before entering your home.
  • Keep pet nails trimmed: Pet nails have been known to be a leading cause of scratches to wood floors. Take the time to have your animal's nails regularly trimmed or keep a filer on hand to do it yourself.
  • Vacuum or sweep daily: This helps remove any dirt, debris or other gritty contaminants before they have a chance to truly accumulate and do damage to your wood floor.

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