How to Fix Dents in Hardwood Floors for Beginners

Dents in hardwood flooring are annoying and an eye-sore. They’re a defect that many would argue is irreversible damage. You don’t have to carry on with this damage though. There are several ways to remove the distraction and repair it, without doing a full hardwood floor replacement.

There may be imperfections that appear to be dents which are actually closer to scratches. Evidently, scratches are easier to fix than dents as they are only on the surface. Dents dig deeper into the wood. Before proceeding, know what you’re dealing with first.

When a dent occurs in a hardwood floor, one of two things have happened. The wood fibers have either been crushed or ripped apart. What you want to hope for is for crushed fibers that likely are still intact. When the fibers are still intact, we apply methods focused on swelling the hardwood. When the fibers are punctured, the solution becomes using a wood filler.

You can fix dents in hardwood floors either by calling in the wood flooring professionals, or take a stab at the project with DIY repairs. Follow this beginner’s guide on how to fix dents in hardwood floors:

1. Light Scratches Can Be Sanded Down

Sanding is a great way on how to fix dents in hardwood floors. Scratches can be sanded down with a fine steel wool pad. Rub along the grain following the length of the scratch. Do so carefully as not to damage the surrounding wood. Rubbing against the grain can cause more scratching and damage. Once the wood is smooth, rub it with some mineral spirits.

2. For Deep Scratches, Use Lightweight Sandpaper

For the deepest of scratches, apply the same approach – lightly sanding along the grain with sandpaper. Once you’re done sanding, apply wood filler. Do not use wood putty. Wood filler is available in many colors and is easier than putty to match to a hardwood floor finish. Once it’s dried, smooth everything down and refinish the board to match the rest of the floor.

3. Heat And Moisture Work on Hardwood Floor Dents

When you have a dent on your hardwood floor, a combination of heat and moisture are a standard fix in helping to raise the wood and bring it back to its original form. You may carefully apply steam to the wood or use a damp towel and alternate it with a hot iron to swell the hardwood back into place. Once the wood’s raise, carefully smooth it down.

4. Cotton Cloth and An Iron

One of our favourite methods in how to fix dents in hardwood floors where the wood fibers are simply crushed is to take a cotton cloth and fold it. The cloth can be damp or the dent can be filled in with some water. Applying the cloth over the dent and then pressing the tip of an iron into it creates perfect heat-and-moisture conditions for the wood to swell. Prevent the iron from direct contact with the wood. Also, do not use Nylon or other materials that can melt or burn. This is why cotton is perfect.

5. Repeat Until the Dent Has Disappeared

You may need to repeat a heat-and-moisture approach several times for the dent to fully disappear. If you use the cotton cloth and iron method, repeat two or three times. The type of hardwood is what will decide how much time it takes. Soft woods, like pine, only require one application to swell the wood while hardwoods, a la ash and oak, may need four or five applications.

6. Filling the Dent

Sometimes heat and moisture doesn’t work on a hardwood floor dent. For deeper dents or if you’re nervous about applying steam to your hardwood floors, you can try to fill the dent with hardwood-approved materials like an epoxy.

7. What Hardwood Floor Dent-Filler to Choose

A fast-drying solvent filler is usually the easiest way to go though your floor will need to be re-finished afterward to ensure the color matches. If you want to skip this step, you may go for a product that’s already with color mixed in. If your floor’s already finished and you don’t intend to re-finish it, you may choose to do with a wood putty. These are simple in repairing a dent, minimizing the risk of further damage to the surrounding wood and finish.

8. Using Marker Pens or Using A Repair Kit

Hardwood has a lot of character to it and the natural color variations may prove difficult to duplicate. From the annual growth rings to other unexpected features, if you want, you may attempt to re-create these over your filler with a marker pen. An alternative approach is to mix color into the filler in a way that matches what’s already going on in your floor. Just be cautious as it may appear slightly different in tint once dry.

9. Replacing the Floorboard

If you had some extra floorboards remaining from the floor’s construction, hopefully you’ve held onto them. If you can’t fill the dent or repair it in any way, replacing the dented piece of hardwood floor is one approach to consider. From there, you can sand and refinish the new floorboard, ensuring it matches the rest of your floor’s finish.

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