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  • Writer's pictureFloors Depot Team

What Causes Scratches on Hardwood?

Scratches On Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are loved the world over for their longevity, durability, and great appearance. With the right care and maintenance, your hardwood floors can last for decades, or even longer. That being said, hardwood floors are far from impervious to damage. They are vulnerable to many different kinds of damage, one of which is scratching.

If you’ve just purchased new hardwood flooring, it can be a distressing moment when you discover your first scratch or scratches on your hardwood floor. Maybe you’ve just inherited or purchased an older property with damaged hardwood floors in need of some TLC. In either case, have no fear! Scratches are usually straightforward to fix or are fixed automatically as you maintain your floor over the years.

This post will introduce you to the best way to repair scratches on hardwood floors.

Common Causes & Reducing The Risk Of Scratches

With so many other things, floor scratches prevention is the best cure. This is especially true for more serious scratches, as we’ll discuss.

When we look at scratches, there are roughly three kinds that you are likely to see. To make it simple, we’ll talk about the three types and their most common causes.

Light Scratches

Light scratches are the most common and luckily are barely a problem. While your floor may look scratched, these marks only penetrate the polyurethane finish above your wood. They may not look nice, but a new coat of finish will have your floor looking as good as new no need to do anything to your wood! This is another reason why it’s so important to refinish your wood regularly – your finish will stop scratches that would otherwise penetrate your floor.

If you see significant traffic on your floor, it’s normal for your finish to thin or scratch slightly over time. Nevertheless, there are some good tips for reducing the number of scratches you’ll see:

  • Shoes: If possible, ensure that your family and any guests don’t walk on your floors while wearing shoes. This will reduce their impact on your finish.

  • Pets: Pets can be a menace to your floor, particularly dogs. Keep pet traffic to a minimum and ensure that no pets are running over your hardwood.

  • Abrasion and Dirt: The most common cause of small scratches and scrapes is actually dirt. As dirt builds up, it can easily scratch the finish as you walk over the floor. Also, avoid using abrasive brooms or vacuum implements when cleaning.

Minor Scratches

Minor scratches penetrate your finish and lightly scratch your wood. Any damage to your wood is a problem, as it means something more than a simple refinishing is required. Luckily, minor scratches are easy to fix — we’ll discuss the best method shortly.

Here are some common causes of minor scratches and how you can avoid them:

  • Shoes: Shoes can sometimes cause more serious scratches, particularly some types like stilettos or cleats. Keep them off your hardwood!

  • Furniture: This is the most common cause of shallow scratches. Always ensure that your furniture is resting on pads and that you move it properly. Heavy furniture like tables or sofas can easily damage your floor if not moved properly.

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches penetrated deeply into the wood and would waste too much of your wood surface to fix with refinishing. Deep scratches can occur with any serious impact, and usually result from moving heavy furniture improperly(!) or from dropping heavy objects.

How To Fix Scratches On Hardwood Floors

If you’re facing a damaged hardwood floor, have no fear. There are usually several ways of dealing with the situation and returning your hardwood to peak condition. Let’s check out hardwood floor scratch repair.

Starting from the easiest to fix, light or superficial scratches can usually be addressed by buffing and refinishing the affected area. Simply remove the finish from the scratched area and apply a new coat, making sure to follow the instructions carefully on all appliances and products. If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best to consult a pro. If your scratches are very minor, it’s also an option to simply wait for your next regular screen and recoat, which is usually once every one to three years.

The best way to repair minor scratches is with hardwood floor refinishing. This process will strip off your finish, as well as the top layer of hardwood. Once this has been done, your floor will be restained and refinished. As this completely removes the top layer of wood, it will also eradicate any light scratches that happen to be there. The caveat to refinishing is that it can only be done ten to twelve times over the lifespan of your hardwood. It’s critical to space out refinishing as much as possible to avoid consuming your hardwood too quickly.

Repairing Deep Scratches

If your floor has been deeply scratched, refinishing is usually not the best option. If the scratch is truly deep, then it might be necessary to take several layers of wood out to remove it. As this will reduce the lifespan of your floor, there are usually better ways.

The best way to repair deep scratches is with wood putty. This substance will fill the crack and can then be sanded down to level with the rest of your floor. If you pick the right colour of putty and ensure that it is applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it is usually possible to almost completely hide your deep scratch.


While it isn’t fun to find scratches on your hardwood floor, it isn’t the end of the world. Whether the scratches are completely superficial, shallow, or deep, there are techniques available to get your floor looking good as new. In fact, scratches are much easier to fix than other sources of damage to hardwood, such as moisture under hardwood floors. The tips and techniques in this post will give you a head start on removing the scratches from your floor and keeping them scratch-free.


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