Home » How To Fix Gouges In Hardwood Floors (Step-by-Step Guide)

How To Fix Gouges In Hardwood Floors (Step-by-Step Guide)

Hardwood is a great material for flooring, but they are still susceptible to scratches, bumps, and gouges. With that in mind, do you know how to fix gouges in hardwood floors? Is it a tricky or easy task to complete? You’ll find out all the answers here.

Gouges are dents and large scratches on your floor. These are often caused by moving heavy furniture but they can also happen for other reasons, such as dropping a heavy object.

If you have hardwood flooring, seeing gouges on the surface can be frustrating. But luckily, you can follow our quick how-to guide to repair these gouges. These steps help you fix gouges on your hardwood floor while maintaining its beauty for as long as possible. Let’s see how it’s done!


Before you start fixing the gouges on your hardwood floor, we suggest gathering all the necessary tools:

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Brown crayon
  • Damp cloth
  • Wood filler
  • Painter’s tape
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Varnish
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Small brush

Step-by-Step Guide

Gouges are the worst kind of dents and are more difficult to remove. However, it isn’t impossible to repair your favorite hardwood floor.

In the case of gouges, the wood fibers are likely broken or frayed. And as we mentioned earlier, gouges usually appear when you drag/push large pieces of furniture across the floor. To fix this issue, here is our quick how-to guide for fixing the gouges on your hardwood floors.

Prepare the Area for Fixing
Image Credit: dustys_hardwood_floors

Step1. Prepare the Area for Fixing

Before working on anything, make sure to sweep the area using a soft broom and gather all dust and debris on the dustpan. Pay close attention to the inside of the crack, which should be dirt-free if possible. After sweeping, clean the area with a gentle water and soap solution.

Waxes, pastes, and cleaners that leave a protective coating or shine should be avoided. Again, remove any traces of dust or grime before you proceed to the next step.

When everything is cleaned, grab your sandpaper then work on the spot over the gouge towards the wooden grain. Sand the area until it becomes smooth.

Step2. Apply Painter’s Tape to the Affected Area

Tape off the damaged area before applying the filler. Doing this will prevent you from applying filler where you shouldn’t.

Most of them will work but blue painter’s tape is the best. Blue tape is a low-adhesive product suitable for painted walls and woodwork. As a hardwood floor is more durable than either of these, it should be completely safe.

Pro Tip: Before setting any kind of tape on your hardwood floor, check the label for the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you can’t find any on the tape’s packaging, visit the manufacturer’s official website for a list of suggested uses.

Some manufacturers suggest blue tape for unfinished hardwood floors. For solid and finished engineered hardwood floors, these manufacturers recommend orange tape. Orange tapes feature low-strength adhesive which is less likely to leave any remnants once you remove it.

Apply Painter’s Tape to the Affected Area
Image Credit: 1dayrefinishing

Step3. Filling that Gouge

To repair a small mostly cosmetic gouge, use a brown crayon on the affected area until the nick is filled. To repair a deeper gouge, first, visit your local wood flooring store and purchase a wood filler. Make sure the color of the wood filler matches the rest of the floor to achieve a uniform appearance.

Working with wood fillers is easy since their paste is made from sawdust and natural resin. Its properties make the filler ideal for refurbishing or repairing finished hardwood floors. And if you’re wondering, wood fillers can be stained and sanded after you apply them.

Set the filler into the affected area then leave it to dry. We suggest waiting for at least 24 hours before you start sanding the area.

Pro Tip: Use a plastic putty knife when applying the wood filler. This is a great idea since the tool is less likely to add more damage to your hardwood floor. Use your knife to push the putty flush into the gouge. Make sure it’s well-packed and slightly elevated from the surrounding surface.

Step4. Start Sanding the Gouge

When the filler has completely dried out, you can start sanding the area until you achieve an even and uniform look. Make sure you sand lightly to avoid any unintended damage.

Continue working on the spot until it’s as smooth and even as the rest of your floor. Also, make sure to avoid sanding the surrounding floor. We suggest using 180-grit sandpaper.

After sanding, observe the area. Make sure there are no differences in the elevation between the surrounding area and the patch. If you aren’t confident with your sanding skills, take a quick look at this video for reference.

Step5. If You Have to, Repeat the Process

You can’t always do things perfectly on the first try. So if you can still see the gouge even after sanding, repeat the process. Make sure to fill the area a second time until the gouge is completely gone.

If there are several deep scratches on the hardwood floor, we suggest hiring a pro. Find someone who specializes in doing hardwood floors since these repairs is more challenging and complicated. Usually, these require special materials/tools to get the job done, and these aren’t common items found at home.

Step6. Applying Varnish

Apply a light coat of varnish over the restored area. We suggest using a small brush to complete the task. After the application, let it set and allow it to dry. Using a high-quality floor varnish is an excellent way to bring out the natural charm and grain of wooden floors. Simultaneously, it protects them from the usual wear and tear of busy environments.

Pro Tip: When you apply varnish, whether it’s oil or water-based, it’s best to study the finish from all possible angles. Remember that varying amounts of light and its direction makes identifying spots you’ve over-brushed easier. It also helps you spot areas you’ve left brush marks or missed altogether.

Extended Tips

We’ve also listed some extra tips to help you further maintain your hardwood floors.

Extended Tips
Image Credit: fshardwoodfloorsllc

1. Preventing Gouges on Your Hardwood Floor

If you think about it, removing gouges from your floor isn’t a difficult task. However, it’s better to prevent these from happening.

So, we’re giving you a few tips to help maintain the beauty of your hardwood floor. These will also help you keep your surface in tip-top condition.

  • Set doormats beside all exterior doors to stop anyone from bringing in grit and dirt from outside. Keep in mind that these particles are the main cause of shallow scratches on floors.
  • When moving your appliances/furniture, make sure to do it carefully.
  • Always use protective pads on the feet of your furniture like chairs, couches, and any other heavy item in your home.
  • Request everyone who enters your home to remove their shoes. You can provide slippers at the entrance, so they don’t walk around barefoot.
  • If you can’t help sliding your furniture across the room, make sure to place pads or carpets underneath. Doing so will not only protect your hardwood floor but will also make sliding things easier.
  • Keep your floor dry.
  • If you have pets, make sure to trim their nails regularly.
  • Unfortunately for those who love high heels, you shouldn’t walk on hardwood wearing them. Also, avoid going around your home if you often wear hard-soled shoes or cleats.
  • Once your floor starts wearing down, you’ll need to start recoating. Apply a second coat to the affected areas to bring back the life and luster of your floor’s finish. This is essential since it’ll prevent you from having to go through sanding.

2. When Cleaning Hardwood Floors

  • Use the appropriate cleaning product and avoid harsh chemicals for cleaning your hardwood floors. Water and soap is always the best cleaning solution to use.  
  • Immediately clean spills as soon as you spot them to keep your hardwood floor stain-free.
  • Dust or sweep daily. Even if you’re applying the “no shoes” rules in your house, dust and debris will still appear. These will settle between the floorboards, and the sight of accumulated dust won’t be appealing.
  • We also suggest vacuuming weekly. It will not only keep your house clean but will also suck out crumbs or dust you may have missed.


Hardwood flooring has recently made a huge comeback as a popular option for flooring in a lot of households. But like everything we own, it requires regular maintenance and care, with gouges and scratches appearing over time.

When you properly maintain your hardwood floor, it can last for decades. And if gouges appear, you can fix these yourself by following our simple guide. Here’s a summary:

  • Clean the floor.
  • Apply tape to the damaged area.
  • Fill the gouge with wood filler that matches the color of your floor.
  • Sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper to make the surface even with the rest of the floor.
  • If necessary, repeat the process until the gouge is no longer visible.
  • Apply varnish/sealant to protect the surface from wear and tear.

Sometimes, the damage on your hardwood floor is too severe that the only option you have left is to replace it. But other than that, you just follow our quick instructions to fix the gouges in your hardwood floor. Once that’s done, you’ll see the original glory and beauty of your floor.

If you’re still having problems fixing the gouges in your hardwood flooring, feel free to drop questions in the comments section! We’ll gladly help you solve those issues and make your wooden floor beautiful again.

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