How to fix Scratches in Polyurethane Hardwood Floors

Polyurethane hardwood floors are known for their high preference among homeowners. They are available in water-based and oil-based forms. Polyurethane protects hardwood from damage and moisture and also beautifies the room.


Sadly, scratches can get their way to this beautiful wood finish. If you happen to have these scratches on your wood floors, the next question on your mind will be how to fix scratches in polyurethane hardwood floors.


This article answers just that and also explain the different kind of scratches you can encounter.


Why does Polyurethane Scratch Easily?


Typically, polyurethane finishes are wear and tear-resistant and are able to withstand high impact, but there are cases where scratches find their way on polyurethane hardwood floors.


The following explains why scratches are found on polyurethane wood floors.


High traffic: Despite how strong polyurethane is, too much traffic on it will definitely affect it. Walking over it with high heels and other spiky shoes can lead to scratches, as well as neglecting to trim your pet’s nails.


The grain pattern of wood: If your hardwood floor is made of loose wood grain, it will make it prone to abrasion. It is very important to choose wood that has a grain pattern that can hold the finish.


Number of coats: How much coat you apply also determines how quickly scratches may show face.


How to fix scratches in polyurethane hardwood floors


  • Kind of Polyurethane floor finish


You need to first determine the kind of polyurethane finish your hardwood has. There are different kinds of polyurethane finish, including oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, wax coating, varnish, stain, and aluminum oxide coating.


There are various methods to determine what type of polyurethane you have. One of them is to apply a small amount of acetone to a small hidden part of your hardwood.


Hardwoods finish like lacquer, wax, or shellac will peel off, but polyurethane will not. You can easily determine if you have a polyurethane floor by trying that method.


The replenishing means for fixing scratches from hardwood floors are quite different based on the finish.


Procedures to restore polyurethane-coated wooden flooring is different from the one for wax-coated wooden flooring.


You should confirm if the finish is damaged or if the timber itself is marred. Inspect the depth of the damages or scratches. Is it just about the scratches, and there are more?


The primary way for repairing scratched hardwood floors can be used in certain cases, but you will need to up your game in case of extensive damage.


The typical approach is, to begin with, the easiest method and then continue with more complicated techniques if the typical one doesn’t work out.


You should clean the hardwood floor very well before starting the replenishing technique. Get rid of dirt, dust, and grit in the room. Wash and clean areas near the region with scratches, if needed.


Identify the kind of scratches and how to fix them


Now that you have determined the kind of finish your hardwood has, you need to identify the kind of scratches it is suffering from.


There are various kinds, including surface scratches, light scratches, deep scratches, and much damaged scratches.


There are different procedures to deal with what kind of scratches you could be dealing with.


Surface scratches


Dealing with polyurethane hardwood floors with surface scratches is sure the easiest among others. This signifies that hardwood has only been minimally affected and has not deeply entered the wood.


Get ready these materials; a fine towel, commercial cleaner for hardwood floors, coating for wood, and water. Now, let’s get started.


Wash the hardwood surface layer with the hardwood floor cleaner to remove dust, dirt, and grime.


Then, wipe the surface with a soaked towel once again. Leave it for a few minutes so it can dry completely before applying the protective coat. The coated finish could be lacquer, varnish, or other types of sealer.


Let it dry completely too. The coat should be applied to the affected surface.
Rub the affected surface with a simple raw walnut, working with the wood grain.


Try working over the same spot multiple times until the scratches disappear. Use your fingers to massage the affected areas and leave them for a few minutes.


The oils present in walnuts will soak into the wood. If you buff the spot with a clean cloth, the scratches should be gone.


Pay extra attention if you have pets in the house. Walnuts are harmful to pets if consumed. You can decide to apply any oil, such as coconut oil.


Wood stain markers can also be used for the same purpose. However, they only cover the scratches instead of repairing them.


Light scratches


These scratches are a bit deep beyond surface scratches. You will need a clean towel and some water to wipe the affected area.


You may also use wood cleaner. Other items you need include wax sticks or wood markers, steel wool, or sandpapers.


Once you are done cleaning and drying the area, use steel wool or sandpaper to wipe over the affected area. You should always massage in the direction of the wood grain until the marks are no longer seen.


Buff and feather the area softly to aid in mixing but avoid overdoing it with the Brillo pads. Next, choose a wax stick that matches the shade of your floor.


Allow the wax stick to remain there for about 10 minutes after rubbing it over the polished area. Clear the surface after buffing it gently with a clean, soft towel.


Deep scratches


These kinds of scratches require extra work, and you may decide to hire professionals to deal with them instead.


If you decide to carry out the task yourself, be sure you are quite good at stripping, fixing, and restoring the hardwood surface so as to achieve the desired outcome without causing damage to the wood.


The fixing process requires using wood fillers and sanding the surfaces. Before starting anything, don’t forget to wash and dry the area.


Concerning applying a wood filler to fix the hardwood floor’s deep scratches, make use of a putty filler that matches the wood.


Apply the wood filler to the deep scratches using a putty knife. Leave it to dry for a few minutes before proceeding.


Now, smoothen up the wood surface with sandpaper. Add a protective layer after cleaning the area with a neat cloth.


Before carrying out any of the above ways of fixing scratches in polyurethane hardwood floors, you need to first peel away the polyurethane coating around the affected area.


Then, wipe away all dust, dirt, oil, and grit. After, soak a scrubbing pad in natural solvents. Massage slowly on the damaged area and then thoroughly dry with a towel.


Let it dry before applying the wood filler, and finally, apply another protective layer of polyurethane over the wooden area. How to avoid having scratches on your hardwood floors


It is generally preferred to avoid having these scratches in the first place. Most times, we end up having these scratches to deal with, but there are a few preventative measures that could help.


The first step in avoiding this is to keep your hardwood floors looking attractive by taking care of and maintaining them. This will help you in detecting any issue quickly.


Possibly, only place light furniture on your hardwood floors. Another source of disadvantage to hardwood is heavy traffic. Wood floors are long-lasting but can be dented if people walk over them with high heels.


Keep dirty and sharp-soled shoes outside and use gentler indoor footwear. If you have furry friends, ensure to always trim their claws to prevent scratches on the wood floor.


Can scratches be buffed out of hardwood floors?

how to fix Scratches in Polyurethane Hardwood Floors


Buffing scratches out of the wood is a good choice though it is applicable to surface and light scratches. It isn’t a good choice to go for if you are dealing with deep scratches.


It will resort to a waste of time trying to buff deep scratches. Using wood fillers or putty fillers would be an excellent decision for deep scratches. You can rent a buffer machine if you are considering the buffing option.


Tips to know when dealing with scratches in polyurethane hardwood floors
Normally, select a wood marker or color that matches your wood surface


There are various shades of wood fillers

If the damage is much, you may need to consider refinishing the floor fully.
Refinishing your polyurethane hardwood floor will not be possible if you wax it.


Be cautious when fixing the scratches, especially when your wood floor still has a warranty right.


Use a putty knife while applying wood filler to prevent additional scratches.
Make sure to clean the wood floor before starting any repairs


Prevention is better than going through the fixing process. Try as much as possible to avoid thins that will encourage scratches in your hardwood.




Scratches found on hardwoods can quickly ruin the aesthetics it gives to the flooring value. Based on the extremity of the damage, you may not need to remove them.


This article addressed various other options to fix scratches in polyurethane hardwood floors.