Flooring Repairs: Scratches and Gouges


Scratches can happen with all wood flooring. Fortunately, good looking repairs can be made to most wood flooring products. Repairs should be made soon after discovery to protect against possible water damage. Ensure the repair products you select are compatible with clear water-base urethane finishes. Here are common steps for repairing hardwood or bamboo flooring!

First, what type of damage do you have? Is it a surface scratch, deep scratch or a gouge?

Surface scratches

Very light surface scratches are best treated using scratch covers, spray concealers, lotions, or color stain markers. These products will camouflage the scratch, not remove it.
When using any of these products, make sure the scratch is clean from dust and debris.
When using a color stain marker, shake it well to mix the stain and urethane. Next apply the stain liberally to the scratch. Use a clean rag to remove any excess stain before it dries to keep stain from discoloring adjacent wood. You may need several colors for concealing scratches in exotic species.

Deep scratches

Deep scratches are best repaired using wax color-fill sticks or light sanding and recoating.
Wax color-fill sticks are available from most home repair stores and can be used to fill nail holes and deep scratches. They will protect against moisture, can be buffed to a luster, and will not dry-out like ordinary putties. Simply rub it into a scratch and buff with a cotton rag.

For sanding and recoating a board:

  1. Tape around the scratch with Blue Painters Tape to protect the floor.
  2. Minor scratches can often be buffed away using a nylon pad or progressively finer sandpaper grits. Restrict your sanding to the scratched area, feathering only slightly into the surrounding surface in-line with the wood grain direction.
  3. Dampen a soft cloth with mineral spirits and wipe off any wood and dust particles on the scratched area of the floor.
  4. Allow to dry.
  5. Select a finish compatible with your floor (water-base urethane). Follow the finish labeling instructions for application. Apply using a spray or from a can with a fine paintbrush.
  6. Be careful not to overwork the finish or the area will look much different from the rest of the hardwood floor.
  7. Allow to dry overnight.


Gouges may be fixed using a combination of the above techniques. Depending on severity an individual board, replacement may be necessary.


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