Removing Scratches from Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

Wood flooring brings beauty and elegance to your home, but the surface is susceptible to scratching and scuffs. In addition, accidents are almost impossible to avoid with small kids and pets, requiring a quick solution to scratches when they occur. Here’s a guide on Removing Scratches from Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

If your wood finish has noticeable scratches, strip or sand it down. Then, refinish it with a highly durable, easy to clean, and abrasion-resistant formula. Mostly, this product would be a polyurethane-based solution or a water-based silicone polish for polyurethane flooring.

Preventing scratches is much better, and you can achieve it by using soft protective pads and rugs to move furniture, trimming pet nails, and removing shoes as much as possible. However, it is best to go through this manual if the inevitable happens and you have to deal with scratched wood. 

How Do You Get Scratches Out of Hardwood Floors Without Sanding?

Sanding a hardwood surface to remove scratches may compromise the entire finish. Hence, it is advisable to explore other options before considering the strategy. Some of the methods include:

  • Using a Store-Bought Chemical Abrasion Kit

Image of wooden flooring but Does Humidity Affect Wood Floors?This DIY kit is available in most home improvement stores and local hardware. Also, although a few brands adopt different names for the product, they follow the same application process.

You can use a chemical formula to prepare the surface, etch the previous finish, and help the new finish adhere tightly. It is also wise to follow the manufacturer’s directives to get a breakdown of how to use the product and what to expect.

Check out the steps below for a successful project.

  • Clean and Clear the Workstation

Be sure to remove any partial fixtures and furnishings, such as built-in shelves and floor-length curtains that would get in the way of your work. In addition, take the doors off their hinges to allow you to cover every spot on the floor.

Clean the floor with a damp cloth and vacuum, and ensure that every area is free from grime and dust. It is also okay to use an abrasive sponge for gunk on the floor. You do not want particles to land on the wet finish and deliver blemishes when the formula hardens.

Turn fans and ventilation systems of and close windows. This way, you prepare the space without distracting dust flow and spread. In addition, you can close blinds and curtains to prevent sunlight from creating hot spots on the surface.

  • Apply the Liquid Abrasive and Scrub the Hardwood Floor

Use the abrasive pad in the kit to scrub the formula in the wood grain’s direction. In addition, consider attaching the pad to a block for added convenience. And wear protective clothing you do not mind ruining if you want to work on your knees.

Take one small section at a time and apply moderate pressure to roughen the floor. Do not just mob the surface; instead, scrub it firmly for the most effective outcome.

It is also advisable to avoid leaving the solution on the floor for more than five minutes. Otherwise, the liquid penetrates the flooring cracks and damages the core beneath the laminate.

Though the chemical etching liquid has a reasonably low odor, it is best to activate the fan or open a window for some ventilation. Also, this process does not take too long, so you will not compromise the results.

Allow the floor to dry for about 30 minutes after getting full coverage. In the meantime, remove the abrasive pad from the block. Throw out the pad but rinse the block as you may need it later when applying the finish.

  • Clean the Flooring Again

Mix two tablespoons of a dishwashing product into a warm water gallon. Then, dampen a mop to clean up any residue on the floor and neutralize the etcher. However, ensure that the accessory is lightly damp to avoid water damage.

Mop in small sections and clean up puddles immediately they form. In addition, wear shoe covers to help keep the floor free of any dust and particles, and wait 30 minutes for the surface to dry.

  • Touch Up Deeper Scratches

Use a cotton swab or artist paintbrush to apply a matching finish to the floor. Next, feather out the formula to help it blend in with the surface, and then blot it out with a cloth.

Also, dry the finish with a hairdryer and add a thin coat from the kit. Then, spread it out around the edges to remove ridges.

  • Apply the New Finish

It is advisable to assess the workload and get two helpers if necessary. The last thing you’d want is to have an incomplete project. Also, ensure that all of you have shoe covers to avoid leaving marks on the finish.

Attach the finish applicator pad to the block, then pour some formula into a plastic-lined container. This way, you facilitate a good coating on the accessory and minimize drips. However, please avoid squeezing out the excess liquid as it creates bubbles.

Work in the grain’s direction and gently pull the applicator at an angle allowing the excess formula to spread on the dry side of the surface. Besides, have your helper closely behind you to smooth out puddles and drips. You want to remove imperfections and excess finish before it dries.

In most cases, one coat is enough to restore the finish. But it is best to add a second layer for added protection and hide deeper scratches. So, ensure that you have enough formula to do another pass over the floor.

  • Let the Finish Dry

You can walk on the floor barefoot after eight hours. However, it is prudent to follow the product directions for the best outcome. In addition, you can return the furniture after 24 hours, but consider letting the finish set for two weeks before having an area rug.

  • Buffing and Recoating with Polyurethane

Buffing is similar to applying a chemical abrasion kit, but you use a buffer to rough up the surface instead of a liquid. In addition, it is a bit messier than a chemical kit and resembles sanding, but all it does is rough up the existing wood finish

Here are the steps to follow for a professional result.

  • Get a Buffer

In most cases, a buffer is a tool you do not own, therefore, head to a home improvement store and rent one. Also, since the rental is an expensive piece of the application, you do not want it to idle around. So, get it when you are ready to buff the flooring.

  • Clean the Floor

Ensure that the room is empty and the floors are free of dirt, dust, and gunk. You can use a wood flooring cleaner and pay attention to tough marks. In addition, take note of areas with deep dents, scratches, exposed nails, and stripped finish. Then, mark them with a masking or painter’s tape for later repairs.

  • Fix the Problem Areas

Return to the areas you marked and douse them with mineral spirits. You can also apply a stain that matches the floor’s color with a cotton swab or paintbrush. However, aim slightly lighter than the previous finish and wipe away the excess.

You’ll need more time for the high-traffic spots with the stripped finish. First, wet the area with mineral spirits and test it with a polyurethane coat. Then, add a complete layer and seal it if the finish looks good.

Nails sticking out from the surface will stick on the sanding screen and wreck it. Even worse, they will damage the buffer and slow your project. Therefore, sink them a little deeper or flush them with the wood. And then, fill the deep gouges and spots with some putty.

With ridges, the buffer with go through the finish into the lumber, damaging the stain. In addition, you may find a ridge with a plank sitting a little higher than the others. Here, sand on the ridge to level it or secure it with a nail.

  • Rough Up the Corners and Edges With Sanding Screen

Unfortunately, the buffer may not get into all the corners or against baseboards, and thus you may need to use your hands. Start by getting quality gloves and scratching up the current finish. Then, add a little pressure and go over these spots three or four times.

  • Set the Buffer on a Sanding Screen

You’ll need a few sanding screens for the project. Put the accessory under the buffer after cleaning the floor and roughing the edges. However, it is advisable to ask for a tutorial on using the rented tool. The store will also inform you how to lock the device’s handle before use.

  • Ventilate the Room and Get to Buffing

Buffing creates a lot of dust; thus, consider opening the windows and turning on the fans. Also, cover all the doorways to the room with sheeting, seal all seams, and slip opening entrances with duck tape.

Please note that sanding screens wear out after 15 minutes of use. So, check the accessory every few minutes for grit build-up and remove large particles that can scratch the floor. Then, flip over the screen once it wears out.

Turn on the buffer and move back and forth to cover the existing finish. You can also swing from wall to wall and work backward across the floor. But only buff each area once or twice to avoid eating into the wood.

  • Clean Up and Spread the Finish

Vacuum the room and wipe the surface thoroughly. Also, clear dust from blinds, window sills, curtains, and shelves. Otherwise, dirt may settle on the wet finish. Next, tape the baseboards to avoid spilling finish on them. 

Consider using polyurethane as it is more durable and easier to work with than other alternatives. In addition, you can consult with an associate at the home improvement store on whether to use water-based or oil-based urethane.

  • Using a Water-Based Polyurethane Revitalizer Gloss

A revitalizer is an excellent alternative if your floors have a low wear level and you want to renew them. In addition, it fills in scratches and adds a glossy finish with a minimal effort amount.

This strategy is ideal if you have a small budget and limited time. So, here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Thoroughly Clean the Floor

Take the doors off their hinges, empty the room of any furniture, and clean the floor with the recommended product. This way, the revitalizer will soak into the scratches and pores, reducing the chances of a weird texture.

  • Apply and Spread the Revitalizer

Check the instructions on the product label and ensure that the floor has a polyurethane finish. In addition, do your research on the current flooring supplies for your DIY sandless process to avoid wasting time and resources.

If you are unsure of the product, test it on a small spot and evaluate how it bonds with the floor. Besides, remember that although the formula is milky white, it will dry into a transparent surface.

Use a mop or a similar tool to spread the formula evenly across the floor. Ensure that you cover all the corners and wall edges to avoid inconsistent spots. Also, avoid leaving any puddles on the surface.

  • Let the Surface Dry

Let the revitalizer dry before moving back any furniture or allowing people and pets to walk on it. In addition, although most products dry within 45 minutes, it is better to wait for about 24 hours before shifting furniture, laying down rugs, or allowing heavy foot traffic.

Lastly, it is advisable to talk to professionals before engaging in a DIY home renovation project. It may be a contractor, the person at the hardware store, or a friend. However, since you know your hardwood floors best, take your time to make the right decision for the surface.

Here’s a Video On Removing Wood Floor Scratches

What Home Remedy Removes Scratches from Wood Floors?

Scratches are an eyesore, and removing them professionally is quite costly. Moreover, the best way to fix a scratch is to redo the entire spot with the scratch. But it is expensive and time-consuming.

Fortunately, we have simple DIY strategies that can moderate scratches on floors. Besides, with a few household staples and readily available home improvement materials, you can fix pesky-looking scratched-up wood floors. These methods include:

  • Buff Out the Scratch

You can use fine-grit sandpaper to buff out the scratch when working on unvarnished wood. Get 320 to 400-grit for light sanding and 180 to 220-grit for slightly deeper scratches. This way, you’ll also smoothen the area around the scratch.

Follow the wood grain for a more natural pattern and lightly sand around the scratch to prevent wood damage. Then, take some wax or oil, and re-apply the formula to match the wooden floor.

  • Use a Wood Stain or Wax Pencil

Wax pencils and spot stain pens are efficient, commercially available, and affordable options to hide scratches on your flooring. Besides, some craft stores have different brands in various colors to give you the most suitable color for your surface.

The best way to test for a complementing or matching color is by using scrap wood to see if the pen’s hue blends with the stain. Alternatively, you can try the shade on a hidden area on the floor, such as in an unused corner, underneath heavy furniture, or under the plank.

Use the wax pencil to level out the scratch and match the surrounding finish. Then, consider the spot stain for shallow scratches and blend the dye with a soft rag. Also, heat up the wax tip, cover the blemish, and wipe off the excess before blending out the finish.

  • Use Baking Soda and Olive Oil Method

It is not common knowledge that baking soda and olive oil can eliminate shallow scratches on lumber. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that buffs the scratch, whereas olive oil delivers a protective finish to keep the surface safe from grease and water damage.

Make a dry formula of baking soda and a few olive oil drops. Apply the paste to the scratched spot on the wood and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Then, use a clean cloth to buff away the scratch and remove the excess.

This strategy is ideal for fresh scratches and in areas like kid’s rooms, kitchens, and pet rooms, where harsh chemicals would be harmful.

  • Use the Walnut Approach

Walnut has natural oils and wood stain that camouflages and seals the scratch. You need to rub the formula into the scratch and let the oils oxidize, turning brown. But this strategy is more of a temporary fix, and you need frequent applications to continue hiding the blemish.

You can heat up walnuts to extract their oils and make them more liquid. Also, the friction from rubbing the walnut should heat it up enough to release the oils into the lumber.

  • Get Spackling

It may be better to use a wood filler and a stain pen that matches your existing finish, painter’s tape, spackling tools, and sandpaper for wood chips or larger, damaged wood spots.

Use the painter’s tape to mark the damaged area and apply some wood filler. Ensure that the spackle levels properly and allow the paste to dry until it hardens. In addition, use fine-grit sandpaper to buff the area lightly and move in the grain’s direction.

Blend the spackle’s color with the spot stain paint and wipe away the excess. You can also apply multiple coats for white wood fillers.

Does Vinegar and Olive Oil Fix Wood Scratches?

Yes, vinegar and olive oil fix wood scratches. Mix equal parts of these ingredients and pour the blend onto the scratched wood area. Then, let the paste sit for a few hours and wipe it away.

It is okay to fine-tune this recipe to meet specific project needs. For instance, add more olive oil to condition and nourish the lumber or add more vinegar if the wood is extra-dirty. However, it is prudent to be careful where you use this mixture, as using it repeatedly can wear down the finish.

Also, you can find other ways to utilize olive oil and vinegar around your home, even if there are no scratched wood floors. For example, one cup each with olive oil and vinegar mixed with four warm water cups can clean wood paneling.

Can You Buff Scratches Out of Hardwood Floors?

You can buff scratches out of hardwood floors. But you need the correct supplies and procedures to deliver a satisfactory result. The materials include a protective finish, wax stick, wood putty, cloths, wire wool, a commercial hardwood floor cleaner, 150-grit sandpaper, and a plastic putty knife.

Start by repairing minor scratches on the surface with a protective finish and a floor cleaner. Clean the scratch with a damp rag dipped in the cleaner and rub it over the scratched spot. Then, repeat the process and rinse away the formula.

Next, fix minor scratches that penetrate through the finish to the wood with some wire wool. You can use a hardwood cleaner for the best result, but ensure you rinse it and allow the surface to dry.

Rub the scratch with the wire wool, moving in the grain’s direction. Then, gently blend the area around the scratch once you buff the imperfection away. Also, rub a wax stick to fill and mix the paste and let it harden for ten minutes before polishing.

Fix deep scratches with color-matching wood putty. Please note that deeper scratches are hard to buff out, as buffing involves lowering the surrounding area to the scratch level. Therefore, it may not work with deeper scratches.

Lastly, apply a small putty amount to the scratch and let the filler settle for a few hours. Next, sand the surface with fine-grade sandpaper and wipe it to remove dust.


Scratches on hardwood floors and surfaces are more than a nuisance. When the varnish scuffs away, the scratched area becomes vulnerable to mold colonies, water damage, and wood-eating critters. Therefore, it is wise to remedy the hiccup before it becomes a nightmare. Check out the tips in the above discussion:

How to Remove Scratches from Wood Flooring

Removing scratches from wood flooring is easy. Strip and sand down the surface to enhance superior adhesion. Then, apply an abrasion-resistant finish to the floor. This way, you get rid of the imperfection and give the wood a new, fresh look.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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