How to get scratches off polyurethane-finished hardwood floors

Written by rachel turner
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How to get scratches off polyurethane-finished hardwood floors
Repair scratched polyurethane-finished hardwood floors with sandpaper. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Hardwood flooring installed within the home or office space is commonly coated with a clear, protective finish called polyurethane. Although this finish acts as a barrier to protect the wood underneath, everyday wear and tear and accidents involving sharp, dropped objects can cause scratches within the clear coating. Repairing polyurethane-finished hardwood floors will remove scratches and help restore the floor's original beauty.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Microfiber dust mop
  • 240-grit piece of sandpaper
  • Clean rag
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Wooden stick
  • Small paintbrush
  • Paper towel
  • #000 steel wool pad
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Tinted wood putty (optional)
  • Wood marker (optional)
  • Filter face mask

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  1. 1

    Clean the hardwood floors with a microfiber dust mop to remove dust and small dirt particulates.

  2. 2

    Sand the scratched polyurethane with 240-grit sandpaper, working with the grain direction of the wood.

  3. 3

    Moisten a clean rag with warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and wipe over the scratched area to remove the sandpaper dust. Allow the area to dry for one to two hours.

  4. 4

    Stir the polyurethane finish in the can with a wooden stick and mix thoroughly. Dip the tip of a small paintbrush into the polyurethane finish and touch it to a dry paper towel to remove excess polyurethane.

  5. 5

    Brush the scratched area with the small paintbrush, applying a thin and even coat. Allow the first coat to dry for up to four hours, or as indicated on the can label.

  6. 6

    Sand the dried finish lightly with a piece of #000 steel wool. Use a lint-free cloth to remove the sanding dust.

  7. 7

    Apply an additional coat of polyurethane finish to the scratched area and allow it to dry. Repeat the brushing, drying and sanding process, applying as many times as necessary to match the repaired area with the surrounding hardwood.

Tips and warnings

  • Use light pressure when sanding the scratched floor to avoid sanding into the underlying wood and causing more scratches.
  • Deep gouges or scratches within the hardwood floor finish will require the use of tinted wood putty to fill the gouge or scratch.
  • If you applied too much pressure to the sandpaper and the wood stain has been sanded off, use a matching wood marker to repair the discoloured spot.
  • Wear a face mask that filters harsh fumes to protect the respiratory system from the polyurethane finish.
  • Never shake a can of polyurethane finish. Shaking the can will produce multiple bubbles which can show up in the finish of the hardwood floor.

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