Here's how to remove scratches from hardwood floors with a walnut, Brillo pad, and other cool home hacks.
How to remove light scratches from hardwood floorsIf you're lucky, light scratches will penetrate only the floor's finish, not the wood itself.“Surface scratches are caused by everyday use, grit on the bottom of shoes, or running a vacuum cleaner across the floor,” Miller says. “Anything that can run across the surface of the floor can cause scratches.”
If you're in a rush, you can lick your finger and rub out the most minor surface scratches. If you're not into the spit-shine approach, you can cleanthe area with a dry cloth, then rub a fine, steel wool Brillo pad along the length of the scratch, with the grain, until the scratch disappears.
How to remove deep scratches from hardwood floors (with a walnut)Deep scratches expose the raw wood, stripping away the wood’s color. To repair this damage, you’ll have to color the scratch with a wood stain marker you can buy at a hardware store. If you're the creative type, you can color in the scratch with graining pencils and artistically re-create the wood grain. (I've used a brown Sharpie to remove hardwood scratches.)
Or, you can try the “walnut method,” Mother Nature’s own wood repair crayon that fills and colors minor scratches. Just make sure the walnut isn’t a darker color than the surrounding floor, or the repair will stand out. (Test it in an unobtrusive spot.)
You can see this walnut trick in action in the pictures below:
After the walnut trick, dab the repair with urethane finish. It’s best to use a urethane that matches the sheen (glossy or satin) of the rest of the floor. But don’t sweat the sheen if the scratch is itty bitty; no one will notice.
How to remove gouges from hardwood floorsIf you take a chunk out of the floor, you’ll have to fill the divot with wood putty, then sand, stain, and finish with urethane, making sure it blends with the rest of the floor. It’s a big job, and one best left to hardwood floor pros, who will charge about $1.50 to $4 per square foot to refinish the floor.
“I would never suggest a homeowner rent a sander and do this themselves,” says Miller. “It’s a professional job.”
Still, for smaller scratches, the DIY approach works fine—which is one good reason to keep a walnut handy in your housecleaning supplies.