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Fixing Dog Scratches on Hardwood Floors Made Simple: Try These 9 Easy Methods



Many families, offering faithful companionship to their owners. However, our love affair with our pets sometimes enters rocky terrains when it comes to our living spaces. From a tussle with a favorite toy to an excited scamper around the house, dogs can leave behind a trail of destruction on hardwood floors. With their sharp claws and high energy, it’s no surprise that dog scratches on hardwood floors are a ubiquitous problem faced by pet owners.

The shock of discovering the interconnected web of scratches crisscrossing your once-spotless hardwood floor might prompt you to ask, “Can anything be done about it?” Thankfully, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

“Understanding the problem is the first step towards finding a solution.”

Before delving into the variety of ways to fix dog scratches on hardwood floors, it’s crucial to understand why dogs scratch the floor in the first place. The simple answer? Dogs scratch floors for a myriad of reasons, ranging from a hunting instinct to an attempt to get cozy. It’s their natural instinct, part and parcel of their day-to-day life. But, that does not mean your beautiful floors have to suffer the brunt of it.

  • Hardwood floor refinishing
  • Using a scratch concealer
  • Buffing out the scratches
  • Filling in the scratches
  • Replacing planks
  • Using a scratch repair pen
  • Recoating the surface
  • Sanding and finishing
  • Utilizing walnut and tea bags

The above list provides a glimpse into the various strategies one may employ to alleviate and correct the issue of dog scratches on hardwood floors. The remaining sections of this article will delve into the specifics, offering insightful analysis and easy to follow guidelines on each method.

Hardwood floor refinishing

Hardwood floor refinishing presents itself as a landscape filled with vast possibilities. One can consider, for instance, the question: Can dog scratches eradicate the aesthetic beauty of a hardwood floor? Evidently, the answer is quite affirmative. But the more pressing question dwells on the aspect of restoring the lost beauty. How does one exactly do that?

Essentially, hardwood floor refinishing is a matter of a few meticulous steps that ventures beyond the realm of simple cleaning and polishing. Let’s delve into the enigmatic process of transforming the marred splendor into rejuvenated elegance.

The Preliminary Examination

Before diving into the substantive procedures of refinishing, a preliminary examination of your hardwood floor is crucial. This involves an assessment of the extent and depth of scratches. A scratch that is only surface deep may require a simple buffing exercise. However, deep scratches are a different saga, demanding a more comprehensive approach.

Cleaning and Sanding

Once the depth of damage is evaluated, commence by cleaning the floor diligently. Thereafter, the process of sanding unfurls. For lighter scratches, a light sand with quick compound will suffice. However, in the case of deeper scratches, greater sanding intensity is warranted. It is crucial to remember that sanding the floor undoes the old sealant and finish, revealing the raw wood underneath. This critical step, although intensive, clears the path for the floor’s rebirth.

Staining and Sealing

Post sanding, the floor’s untouched beauty becomes exposed. To enhance the hardwood’s natural grace, consider applying a stain. Stains come in a myriad of hues allowing homeowners to customize their floor’s look. Ensure that the stain is uniformly applied and allow ample time for drying. Once dry, seal the floor to protect it from the elements and future possible scratches. Apply a clear finish for an additional layer of protection. Multiple layers of sealant might be required depending on the wear and tear the floor typically endures.


The final chapter in the tapestry of hardwood floor refinishing is routine maintenance. This includes regular cleaning to keep the floor devoid of dust and abrasive particles, prompt fixing of superficial scratches and revisiting the entire refinishing process as needed.

And thus, the hardwood floor, once overshadowed by dog scratches, is rejuvenated, retelling its story of restoration rather than of damage. However, the urgency remains – preventing hardwood floor damages in the first place is always better than embarking on an exhaustive refinishing expedition.

Using a scratch concealer

What exactly are these scratch concealers? And how are they effective in dealing with dog scratches on hardwood floors?

The Intricacies of Scratch Concealers

Scratch concealers behave much like a marker that fills in scratches, effectively making them blend with the hardwood floor. Typically, these products come in a range of colors; each designed to mimic the most common types of wood used in flooring. The process necessitates picking the correct hue that matches your current floor tone, hence giving an almost invisible repair.


The application of a scratch concealer is straightforward. Ensure that the floor is clean and dry before initiating the procedure. An important point to note here is that these concealers only cover the surface-level scratches and not the deep gouges.

  1. Start by shaking the concealer bottle well to mix the contents thoroughly.
  2. Apply the concealer directly on the scratches, ensuring that you’re not spilling the solution elsewhere on the floor.
  3. Leave it to dry for about an hour.
  • Effectiveness and Limitations While scratch concealers are excellent for masking minor dog scratches, they may not be as effective for more profound and severe damage. This technique is akin to putting a band-aid on a wound – it hides the scratch, but it doesn’t undo the damage. Using a scratch concealer should be regarded as a stop-gap measure rather than a permanent solution to deeply etched lines from your pet’s paws. On a positive note, concealers work best for minor scratches, making the scuffs disappear almost magically. However, remember that the success lies in using the right shade of concealer to match your floor. When correctly selected and applied, scratch concealers can lengthen the time between major floor rework, like sanding and refinishing.

Buffing out the scratches

This mechanical apparatus basically smooths over the sharp edges of scratches, thereby subtly fading them away and giving the floor a renewed semblance of originality.

Buffing Procedure

Switch on the buffer and follow a rhythm of moving it methodically and in a repetitive pattern across the scratched surface. By focusing on the damaged areas and deploying slow, even strokes, the buffer grinds down the high points, thereby camouflaging the scratches and restoring the hardwood floor’s aesthetic appeal.

But while a buffer can a be potent rectifier of minor and superficial scratches, it is pertinent to remember that it may not be as effective on deep, severe scratches. At the same time, it is equally essential to remember that buffers, by nature of their operation, remove minute layers from the floor surface. Thus, it is indispensable for users to exercise caution during buffing to prevent thinning out the surface too much or creating uneven surfaces.

Fixing Dog Scratches on Hardwood Floors Made Simple:

Post Buffing Considerations

Once the buffing is done, the task of clean-up ensues. Buffing results in the accumulation of dust particles which need to be carefully removed before progressing to the next step of refinishing or staining. Would it be an exaggeration to relate this dust to the aftermath of a battleground? Perhaps not, considering the importance of thoroughly cleaning up this dust. Upon cleaning, it is recommended to allow the floor to rest for a day before embarking upon any further treatment.

Filling in the scratches

Fillers designed specifically for hardwood surfaces, each with their own unique properties and application procedures. The method chosen ultimately depends on the severity of the scratch, the type of wood, and individual preferences.

The Usage of Putty Fillers

The use of putty is one of the most common ways to handle scratches. This method involves the use of pre-colored or stainable wood putty. Fillers that are pre-colored work best for small to medium-sized scratches that are superficial in nature. For deeper scratches, stainable putty could prove to be highly effective. The filler is used to fill the scratch and then sanded down to level it with the floor, completing the repair process.

Wax Filler Approach

Another option is a wax filler, often available in stick form, suitable for hardwood floors. The wax is rubbed into the scratch, filling it and hardening to create a smooth surface once again. It is imperative to select a wax color that matches the floor to ensure a seamless repair. Following the manufacturer’s instructions during application is vital. This technique is efficient for both surface-level and deeper scratches.

Epoxy Resin Option

In more severe cases where the damage penetrates more deeply into the floor, epoxy resin could be the viable solution. This two-part system requires mixing the resin with a hardening agent before applying deep into the scratch. Once hardened, the surface is sanded smooth and resealed. The durability of epoxy resin makes it an excellent choice for areas with high footfall or where the scratches are particularly pronounced.

No matter the method chosen, diligence in following instructions and using the appropriate tools and products can ensure a successful repair. However, it’s important to remember that these are temporary solutions, and a more comprehensive fix may be required down the line.

Replacing planks

Measures. Replacing the entire plank might be necessary in cases where scratches penetrate deeply, adversely affecting the aesthetic elegance and structural integrity of the hardwood floor. While this procedure can be considerably more costly and laborious, it is sometimes the only viable avenue to restoring the original look and performance of your hardwood floor.

The Procedure of Plank Replacement

The process begins with the thorough examination of the plank in question. The extent of the damage must be scrutinized and judged whether it is beyond the realm of surface-level repairs. An expert’s opinion could be sought to ensure an accurate and informed decision.

Following this, the damaged plank is removed meticulously to prevent surrounding planks from being compromised. A circular saw, oscillating tool or a drill is used to cut within the plank, leaving a safe margin around the edges. Accuracy is paramount in the plank removal process as any miscalculations can exacerbate damage to the remaining floor.

After successful removal of the damaged plank, a replacement that matches the original plank’s wood type, color, and finish is sought. It should fit seamlessly into the space vacated, maintaining the uniformity and aesthetic appeal of the floor. The replacement plank is then fixed onto the subfloor, ensuring an exact fit.

Alternative Methods for Plank Replacement

In situations where replacement planks that match the original floor aesthetics are unavailable, an alternative approach can be adopted. This strategy involves pulling up planks from a less obvious location, such as the inside of a closet or underneath a furniture item, and using those in the visible damaged portion. The mismatched replacement planks are then installed in the inconspicuous place, thus maintaining the overall appearance of the floor.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite its effectiveness in counteracting significant dog scratches, plank replacement comes with a number of considerations. The costs, both financial and temporal, can be considerable. Furthermore, finding matching planks could be challenging, especially for older homes where the flooring material may be discontinued. Lastly, the possibility of causing collateral damage during the replacement process cannot be overlooked. Thus, deliberation is key before embarking on a plank replacement mission.

Using a scratch repair pen

Mented ink designed to blend with the color of your hardwood floor. It operates on a simple principle: filling in scratches and minor gouges with a color-matched solution that dries quickly. Is it the be-all and end-all for all kinds of scratches? Certainly not. However, it reveals itself as a potent defender against minor, unsightly blemishes.

Applying the Scratch Repair Pen

The process of using a scratch repair pen is straightforward. The first step involves cleaning the surface to make it free of dust and dirt. Upon ensuring the scratched area is dry, the pen is hovered above the scratch and its contents carefully deposited after shaking it. A cloth is then used to wipe away any excess. Then an anxious wait ensues as homeowners observe the drying process, while the filled scratch merges seamlessly with the floor.

Benefits and Limitations

Scratch repair pens offer several benefits. Their easy application and quick-drying nature make them particularly appealing to users seeking speedy solutions. Furthermore, they often blend well with the flooring, minimizing the visibility of minor scratches. They are cost-effective and suitable to tackle minor damage without involving professional services.

However, as useful as they may be, they do possess limitations. Major dents and deep scratches are usually beyond the ability of a repair pen. Also, it can often be challenging to find a color that perfectly matches your floor, may it be because of aging or unique staining. Despite these constraints, scratch repair pens maintain an essential spot in the toolbox of those looking for a rapid solution to minor scratches.

Recoating the surface

The hardwood floor to restore its original luster and, most importantly, to shield it from future scratches and general wear and tear.

The Procedure for Recoating

  1. Examination: Before launching into the task of recoating, one must consider the present condition of the hardwood floor. Is the surface merely marred by trivial scratches and scuffs, or is there a more serious damage?
  2. Preparation: Preparation is key for recoating. The procedure includes the removal of any wax or oils settled on the surface, diligent cleaning, and a light sanding to create a receptive surface for the new finish to adhere.
  3. Application: The recoating itself is a process where a new layer of finish is spread evenly across the hardwood surface using a roller or brush, in a methodical and careful fashion, ensuring that no areas are left untouched.

Recoating: Pros and Limitations

Undeniably, recoating has its benefits. It is a procedure that enlivens the hardwood floor, enhances its texture, color, and overall aesthetics. This practice notably obstructs the progression of existing minor scratches and reduces the probability of new ones. Simultaneously, recoating is a comparatively less expensive and less labor-intensive option than complete hardwood floor renovation methods such as sanding and refinishing.

However, one must keep in mind that recoating is not a universally suitable fix to all hardwood floor issues. Deeper gouges, more serious discolorations, or extensive wear will not be rectified by this process. The floors with deep scratches or significant damage might require more comprehensive repairs or replacements.

In conclusion, recoating could be a viable solution for surface-level scratches induced by your canine companion. However, it is crucial to comprehend its potential and limitations for it to be effectively applied as a restorative measure.

Sanding and finishing

The initial step in restoring the surface to perfection.

The Involved Mechanics

In carrying out this procedure, an abrasion of the floor’s top layer materializes by using coarse grit sandpaper. Incrementally, the operator switches to finer grits to smooth the surface, diligently removing the indents imprinted by the pets. Essentially, these grains are what’s responsible for abrading the floor, stripping away the layer where the scratches have occurred. Does this mean we are simply eroding the charm of hardwood floors? Well, that isn’t completely toeing the line of actuality. On the contrary, it’s an essential step in our stride toward optimal restoration.

Understand the Catch Here: Over-Sanding

However, the practice of sanding is not without its cautionary factors. Over-sanding, specifically, becomes a risk when this process is too strenuously applied, potentially thinning the floor boards excessively. Hence, the key challenge becomes exercising due diligence, finding the fine balance that allows us to strip away the scratches without compromising the integrity of the wood.

The Finishing Touch

Once sanding has been successfully executed, the perplexing yet paramount task of finishing surfaces. The finish, which meticulously applied, adds a protective layer to the freshly sanded wood, thereby increasing the floor’s resistance to future scrapes or scratches. Various products are vying for attention in the markets, however, upon investigating, the polyurethanes – oil-based or water-based -remain the benchmark.

The Compelling Results

As a result of following this meticulous process, the hardwood surface, its elegance threatened by relentless, pet-induced scratches, won’t just return to its former glory – it may even transcend it. The combined effect of thorough sanding and a comprehensive finish application results in a revitalized, scratch-resistant surface. Not only does this fix the immediate issue, it also fortifies the floor against future incidents, ensuring your hardwood’s longevity in the face of our beloved but potentially destructive canine compatriots.

Utilizing walnut and tea bags

The mechanism of these unlikely heroes in salvaging your beautiful flooring while maintaining its innate charm and elegance.

The Unassuming Walnut

Walnuts, known primarily for their nutritional prowess, hold an uncanny potential in dealing with shallow surface scratches. Their effectiveness stems from their oils that fill in and darken the scratched areas, making them blend in with the rest of the wood.

To use a walnut, one must follow a handful of uncomplicated steps:

  1. Take an unsalted, shelled walnut and rub it over the scratch, ensuring the nut’s meat comes into contact with the damaged wood.
  2. Do this for a couple of minutes, allowing the walnut’s natural oils to seep into the wood.
  3. Next, use a soft cloth to buff the area and remove any remaining walnut residue. Astonishingly, the scratch should appear considerably less noticeable.

Naturally, this method is better suited for lighter, superficial scratches and may not work as effectively on deep or large scratches.

The Humble Tea Bag

From refreshing our senses to restoring the luster of our hardwood floor, it seems there’s nothing a cup of tea can’t do. The tannins found in tea can add colour to your hardwood floor, rendering spaces previously tarnished by scratches less visible.

The process is rather simple:

  1. Start by boiling a tea bag and allowing it to steep for a few minutes.
  2. After the tea has cooled, dampen a cloth with it and rub it over the scratched area.
  3. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then wipe away the excess tea with a dry cloth.

While seemingly less sophisticated, this method offers a quick fix, making less conspicuous scratches virtually disappear. Yet, one must remember that the effect of the tea may variate depending on the type of wood and its color, so a small patch test is advisable.

Whether choosing the walnut or tea bag route, an economical, accessible, and environmentally-friendly solution is within arm’s reach for tackling superficial dog scratches on hardwood floors. Regardless, for deeper, more noticeable scratches, seeking professional assistance or employing serious refinishing techniques is recommended.

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.