Cheap ways to repair scratches in hardwood floor

Updated February 21, 2017

Hardwood floors can increase a home's value, and are easy to maintain and repair. However, they can get scratched up from moving heavy items across them or by using abrasive cleaning products. Camouflaging the scratches restores the hardwood flooring's visual appeal. There are several inexpensive scratch repair options to choose from to suit your abilities, floor colour and preferences.

Dip a cotton swab into shoe polish that closely matches the lighter tones in the wood. Lightly rub the shoe polish into the scratches to blend the colour with the existing finish. Wipe away any excess shoe polish with a soft rag.

Rub a shelled walnut over the scratch, following the direction of the wood grain.

Mix instant coffee with enough water to form a dark paste. Dip the corner of a rag into the mixture and apply it to the scratches in light coats. Allow the coating to dry for 15 to 20 minutes before determining if more paste is necessary. Apply the paste in light coats until it matches the colour of the floor. Wipe the scratch area, after each application, to avoid staining the surrounding floor.

Place a black tea bag into a mug and add enough boiling water to cover half of the tea bag. Allow the tea bag to steep in the water for three to four minutes or longer if the floor is a dark colour. Dip a cotton swab into the tea and dab the scratch to cover it. Immediately wipe the area with a clean rag to remove excess tea from the floor. Dab on more tea, if necessary, to match the floor colour.

Submerge the end of a cotton swab into iodine if you have a dark-coloured floor. Blot the scratch with the iodine-soaked cotton swab and immediately wipe the area to remove any excess iodine. Add more iodine to the scratch if it is still noticeable.

Rub the scratch with an appropriately-coloured wax stick or hardwood marker. Apply in light layers, slowly building the colour until it blends with the surrounding floor colour.

Dip a soft rag into coloured furniture wax and apply it to the scratch. Allow the wax to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Buff the area with a microfiber cloth.

Rub #000 steel wool over the scratch, moving in the direction of the wood grain. Wipe away any wood dust with a damp rag and dry the area with a second rag. Dip a rag into white spirit and rub the rag over the scratch, moving it perpendicular to the scratch.

Dip an artist's paintbrush into a closely matching colour of liquid stain. Paint the scratch, being careful to stay within the lines of the scratch. Wait one to two minutes then wipe the scratch with a soft rag. Apply more stain, as needed, to build or darken the scratched area.

Dunk a corner of a rag into liquid scratch cover and rub it over the scratch to conceal it. Wipe up any excess scratch cover with a clean rag.


Start all scratch cover methods with a clean floor.


Test the scratch cover methods on a hidden part of the floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swab
  • Shoe polish
  • Rags
  • Shelled walnut
  • Instant coffee
  • Black tea
  • Iodine
  • Wax stick or hardwood marker
  • Coloured furniture wax
  • #000 steel wool
  • White spirit
  • Artist's paintbrush
  • Wood stain
  • Liquid scratch cover
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About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.