How to Repair the Finish on Hardwood Floors


Hardwood floors can take a beating over the years, and you may need to do some repairs to get the floor back to looking its best. If repairs are small, like minor scratches and dents, you can do them yourself with some time, a few tools and rented floor-sanding machines. The age of the hardwood flooring is a consideration, for older floors may have thin veneers that can be difficult to repair. Water damage is another problem that you might want to leave to professionals. There are a number of good Internet sites and books to give you basic information about hardwood flooring.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding block or sander
  • Wood filler
  • Stain
  • Foam brush
  • Plank
  • Nails
  • Polyurethane or wax
  • Shellac
  • Alcohol
  • Determine what kind of floor you have and what kind of finish. This can be an important factor in how well you can do the repair. Maple floors are notoriously difficult to repair and may need a professional for best results. Other types of floors, such as oak, can be less challenging. Waxed surfaces are more forgiving for repairs.

  • Access your damage. You may only have some slight dings that need sanding and a touch-up of polyurethane. Dents or chips in the wood surface can be repaired with wood filler and can be fixed with touch-up pens. Larger areas of scuffing or wear will have to be sanded and restained, then coated with polyurethane or wax.

  • Repair minor scratches with 60-grit or finer sandpaper on a sanding block. Sand in the direction of the grain. Sand an area slightly larger than the area that needs repair. Remove dust. Matching the color of the stain can be difficult, so take your time and get the tone right. Apply the matched stain with a foam brush, and allow it to penetrate. Wipe off excess stain and allow the area to dry. Coat with polyurethane. Allow to dry well, 30 minutes to several hours, allowing for humidity.

  • Sand dents to a level surface or fill cracks with wood filler and sand with a fine paper. Use furniture touch-up pen or stain to accurately match the wood. You may have to mix stains to get the right color. Allow to dry. According to Ron Hazelton, home improvement "guru," you can blend in a coat of polyurethane, matching the tone of the wood with a little shellac thinned with alcohol.

  • Remove whole boards that cannot be repaired. Replace with new boards, and nail into position. Fill nail heads with filler and sand. Remove dust. Stain the board to match the rest of the floor and apply polyurethane finish.

  • Rent floor-sanding machines to remove the finish on large areas or the whole floor. Sand out scratches on scuffed areas and fill in dented areas. Sand the floor uniformly. Be careful to remove dust thoroughly. Apply a polyurethane coat evenly and allow it to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is best to re-finish an entire board or at least a portion of the board that can be disguised with another joint, because the eye tends to follow the length of the board to the end, so any differences in surface will be not be detected as easily if you keep the project within these bounds.

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