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How to Remove a Surface Scratch From a Hardwood Floor

How to Remove a Surface Scratch From a Hardwood Floor
Scratched HardwoodUh oh. The dog went tearing across the living room floor and left scratches in his wake. Or without thinking, you moved the sofa to retrieve a toy, and now there’s a nice white mark on your cherry floor.
Don’t worry! Unless the scratch is deep, a few at-home techniques can restore your floor and remove the damage.

A Simple Fix for a Surface Scratch

The easiest scratch to fix is one that has only nicked the surface finish. In this case, all you need to do is repair the breach in the polyurethane, wax or other finish that coats the wood floor.

  1. Clean the scratched area thoroughly. (You don’t want to push dirt into the scratch when you re-coat the wood!) Use a soft, clean, white cloth and a bit of mineral spirits. Blot up the mineral spirits with another cloth moistened with water, and let dry.
  2. Apply a coat of protective finish — polyurethane, wax, etc. — according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Easy Steps for Dealing with Minor Scratches

If the steps above don’t give you the results you desire, or if you can tell the actual wood is scratched, you might want to first contact your floor’s manufacturer to see if they sell a touch-up kit. But you can also follow these easy steps to repair a surface scratch.

  1. Use the cleaning instructions in step 1 of the section above.
  2. Next, you’ll need to buff out the scratch. You can do this easily with a steel wool pad, but you do need to be careful. Don’t go crazy, rubbing hard in all different directions. Start out slow and easy and always rub in the direction of the wood’s grain.
  3. If the steel wool isn’t doing the trick and the scratch runs a little deeper (but not too deep), try lightweight sandpaper. Again, go easy and go with the grain.
  4. Whether you use steel wool or sandpaper, rub lightly around the scratched area, too, to blend in the buffed area with the undamaged wood. The idea is to “feather out” the buffing.
  5. When you are done buffing, clean the area again using the method in step 1 above. Be sure to remove any grit or wood dust left behind after step 4.
  6. Use a wax filler stick that matches your wood and fill in the scratched area. It’s OK if you overfill the scratch a bit. Wait 10 minutes for the wax to set.
  7. Buff the waxed area with a clean cloth.
  8. If your floor also has a protective coating, touch it up as explained in step 2 in the first section.

When to Call a Professional

If you have followed all these steps and you still have a noticeable scratch, or the problem is a deep gouge, this is the time to replace the entire wood plank. In this case, it’s best to leave the job up to a professional so that the new plank will blend in beautifully with your existing floor.

If the scratches cover a big area, the floor may be due for a complete refinishing job. An expert is a good choice, but there are a lot of terrific DIY resources on the web that can guide you.

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