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>Scratches on your hardwood floor? Cover 'em up -- easily. Photo: ArcaHeradel, Flickr

There's that pesky scratch or chip in your hardwood floor; with all that foot traffic in your home, it was bound to happen at some time or another. Most people probably won't notice these small imperfections, but when they're on your floor, it's likely to drive you crazy constantly.

Lest you think camouflaging that marred entire floor board with a rug or a piece of furniture is your only option, here are a few great tips to cover that scratch or chip so well you'll be able to display that floor board with pride, and none of your house guests will be the wiser.

First, assess the damage. If it's a small, shallow scratch, then here's what you can do:

Solution #1: Marker It

1. Pick up wood stain markers from your local home improvement store. Be sure to get an assortment, because chances are that you won't find a match right away. Even if you're usually good at eyeballing it, it's helpful to have a few options.

2. Test the markers on an inconspicuous corner of the floor until you find a match.

3. Then, just fill in the scratch with the marker pigment and watch it disappear.

Solution #2: Oil It

1. This one comes from one of our favorite DIY divas, Barbara K. She suggests an old contractor's trick: applying lip balm to light scratches to make them fade away.

2. Similarly, our friends over at ShelterPop suggest rubbing a walnut or pecan across the surface of a superficial scratch; the oil from the nut will cover the scratch quickly and cleanly.

On the other hand, if the scratch is a little too deep for a surface treatment, try this quick fix:

Solution #3: Sand it

1. Take some light sandpaper (very fine grain) or steel wool and gently buff the scratch or chipped area. Rub in the direction of the wood's grain, but don't rub too hard.

2. Then, take a microfiber cloth and wipe the area thoroughly with mineral spirits. Be sure to remove any dust or debris created from the sanding.

3. Now -- using some of the original stain from your floors -- use a cotton swab or a small paint brush and lightly brush over the area, making sure to fill the entire crevice. If you don't have the original stain, check your local home improvement store for a few wood stains that are close matches. As you blend the stain, be very gentle; you want to make sure that the finish blends in with the rest of your floor.

4. Let the stain dry for at least an hour, and be sure to let everyone in your household know not to walk in that area. By following these directions, you should be on your way back to hardwood floor perfection!


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  • 'Capt' South T. Lynn

    If you use no finish on your newly sanded floors and buff them after applying a neutral stain or a color, you like, until they have a nice antique soft satin finish, then paste wax them, they will last forever. You can't wear hardwood, you merely abuse and wear finish. My floors were finished 45 years ago and have been waxed maybe once or twice in that time. If abused in a doorway merely re paste wax the abused area. We have antique rugs in the main areas.

  • Margaret

    I have used crayola crayons for years to hide scratched on floors, chairs and tables. One treatment is usually enough. Just rub it in then wipe off the excess if necessary. I keep a box of crayons handy and you can mix and match colors to get the shade you need.

  • Sverdijr

    Do not use wax or lip balm ,,,unless you have a waxed floor you cant use that method,,,if you have oil or water based poly you can rub a little canola oil in the scratches to hide them,,,secondly dont leave the stain bare in method 3 thats wrong ,,,it will only dull and dosent provide any protection to the raw wood always top coat it with either oil or water based polyurethane ,,,water based dries within 20 minutes so that a good choice for repairs

  • Deanna

    As the owner of a hardwood flooring company, I can tell you, if you use wax, crayons, lip balm, etc you will be sorry when it comes time to re-finish your floors. All that stuff gunks up the sand paper and you will end up paying more because of the extra time and materials it takes to sand the floors. The marker is a great cover-up, sharpies work well too (they make them in browns too). If you plan on using a light sand paper or steel wool, you will have a dull spot on the floor, make sure you do that in a place thats not in the middle of the floor.

  • Dee

    Great someone who might be able to help me. I used this Orange Glo floor cleaner and now I have a film like on certain parts of my floor. It likes it might have strip some thing off, but my floor was not stain it was install professionally and it is a light color. When I open my front door and the sun hits it if is very visible. Can you suggest anything, I have been using Vinger and Water every other week on it but no improvement.


  • mary

    My hardwood floors are worn in the hallway....dark and worn. I do not want to sand just that area as the rest of the floor in the living room looks great. Quick fix for that?

  • irene powers

    I have bruce hardwood floors and have scratches what can I do?.

  • Peggy

    I have old heart pine floors and high traffic . The polyurethane finishes do not last and the last time we tried an oil finish several coats- it was beautiful but is worn through in the traffic areas. There must be some solution since some floors are very very old!

    Thanks Peggy

  • joe

    try a product called "Waterlox" ,very hard finish,and can refinished after alight sanding. good luck!!

  • Melanie

    I have the same problem, an old pine floor. let me know what you find out about making this floor last

  • william

    im a professional hardwood floor refinisher and i can tell you crayon; lip balm or home depot markers not a good idea for hardwood floors call the pro three 0 one four six six o four o six

  • Greg

    I have owned my business for 35 years doing custom hardwood floors,
    DON'T try to fix your scratches yourself- call someone who knows what he is doing. Using the wrong product can contaminate any finish you might have left , NEVER put WAX on your floors unless you had your floor waxed the last time they were finished by your flooring contractor.
    A $50.00 charge to fix some scratches by a professional my save you THOUSANDS . ( not having to have your floors sanded & finish again because you did something wrong.) Sometimes DIY is not the way to go !!!

  • rws

    I have a pergo laminated floor. I have an area where glue from a box sitting on the floor disclored the area. What can I do to repair this?

  • Barbara

    I am glad I read all the comments before using any of the methods recommended. The last time I had my floors professionally sanded and polyuthene applied, I was told not to use any of the products or techniques listed. Call a professional. If I would have had any wax on the floors they advised me it would cost more, could cause the stain not to take and create a problem on the finish coat.

  • Sverdijr

    dee orange glo does leave a film on the floor ,,was it the refurbisher or the cleaner u used

  • Dee

    I used the Cleaner and then there was a guess a polish that came with it. I decided to use that after I wet mopped.

  • Cindy

    I wish I knew not to use orange glow it has left a film on my hardwood floor! I guess the lesson I learned read the bottle know what type of hardwood floor you have and do not use orange glow! Sorry to hear other had the same issue but glad that is not only me! I should have just stuck with Murphy's oil soap!

  • Sherri

    I have prefinished hardwood floors alot of traffic and children....they shined great at first now nothing I use seems to help....I was wondering do they make bowling alley wax anymore or what can i do to restore the shine..Thanks!

  • Gary

    For the so called experts who say don't use wax or crayon to hide scratches because it will gunk up the floor when you go to refinish it, do you know what you are talking about? We're talking about a small scratch or two. I doubt there will be much gunk on the floor for a couple of scratches. Of course, if you decide to spread it all over the floor like butter on bread, I guess you will have a gunk problem.

  • hprentice

    At the ripe old age of 17, i have been working on hardwood floors for 7 years with my father and his home business. Having done a decent amount of work i can safely say we do know what your talking about. However covering scratches with wax based products will work if you intend to never re-finish the floor, or if your have a wax finish. If you don't have a wax finish it may not be possible to get up all the wax during refinishing, and sanding. So if you ever re-stain the floor there is a strong possibility to have a discolored patch where you covered up the scratches. Its not just gumming up the sander that we flooring contractors are worried about.


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