Beautiful, durable and practical, hardwood floors are a popular choice for many homes. Though generally resilient, the material is far from immune to damage, however. Pet claws, furniture legs and other hard or sharp edges can put unsightly scratches and gouges into once-pristine hardwood. For serious and extensive damage, refinishing the entire floor may be the best option, but for the odd scratch and divot, there are far easier solutions to remove or minimize unsightly damage.

Floor Wax or Polish

One option is to apply floor wax or acrylic floor polish to the affected area. This option should be used sparingly, however. Over time, these products can darken or dull wood floors, and counteracting the effect requires hard scrubbing with mineral spirits and ammonia.

Wood Renewing Products

Wood scratches can also be improved with a wood “renewing” product such as Minwax’s Hardwood Floor Reviver or Bona Pro Series Hardwood Floor Refresher. Be sure to clean your floor thoroughly before and after applying the coating, and then allow plenty of time for it to dry. Note that this product is not permanent and may need to be reapplied in the future.

Stain or Stain Marker

If the existing finish on your floors has been eroded, exposing the bare wood, your best solution may be a wood stain marker for small areas or traditional wood stain for larger surfaces. Carefully choose a stain that matches the existing one, and be sure to wipe away any excess before it dries.

Wood Filler

Deep gouges require a more robust solution. Pre-colored latex wood filler is often the best option. This product should be applied with a plastic putty knife, allowed to dry completely, sanded down to the level of the floor and then coated with varnish thinned with 10% or 20% turpentine.

While these fixes aren’t miracle solutions for all scratches, they should hopefully substantially improve the appearance of any damaged floors you may have.