Cat Scratch Fever (How to Fix Scratches in Wood Floors)

Frank. That's our cat. He's such a love and quite possibly the No really. He's awesome. He doesn't tear toilet paper up, he loves to snuggle, he lets you know when he needs his litter cleaned (seriously) and he's pretty low maintenance. His fault? He scratches the heck out of my floors. He's your typical cat in that the littlest noise scares him and he reacts by running away. In the process he scratches up the floor. 

For the last couple of years I have tried everything to remove/disguise this:

Bad right? Probably made worse by the fact that I didn't sweep like I should have. :-)

I have tried every tip and trick I've seen on the internet trying to remove scratches in my hardwood floors. After all of the trial and error I finally figured out a way to get the floors "almost" perfect. Without sanding them down, there will always be scratches but I found a way to make the scratches a lot less noticeable.

Step 1: 

Fill the scratches with stainable wood filler. I use Elmer's Stainable Wood Filler.

After it sets for about 5 minutes, wipe it off with a damp (not wet) paper towel in a circular motion.

It looks pretty terrible after doing this because the wood filler highlights ALL the scratches. For best results, repeat this step 2 or 3 times (I did it twice but should have done it three).

Using a stain that is one shade darker than your floor, dap the stain on the floor using a foam brush.

After dabbing the stain on, drag the foam brush across the floor/scratches. You can grab a package of foam brushes fairly cheap on Amazon. As for stain, I actually really like using Minwax 1/2 Pint Interior Wood Stain in Ebony.

Let the stain sit for 5 minutes and wipe it off with a dry paper towel, in a circular motion.

And when it's all said and done it should look like this!

And the side-by-side:

The fixed area from above.

Is it perfect? No. Is it far less noticeable? Oh yeah. This particular spot in the house gets A LOT of light so it shows every flaw in the floor. I'm sure with one more coat, it will be nearly undetectable. 

I wish this was the only spot in the house that needed this touch-up but sadly, it is not. I've got a whole top floor of scratches to fix. :-( But hey! At least I know how to fix it now!


Note 9/17: I've received lots messages/comments asking what all I tried. I tried pecan and walnut meat on the scratches. That just made my floor really slippery. :-) Same thing with Old English. I tried a stain pen in the same color as the floor. It stained the scratches, but they were still really visible. I tried the stained wax crayons. I don't know if it was the brand I used, but these gave the worst result. All it did was put a wax film on the floor and didn't fill in the scratches. I tried steel wool followed by stain as well as a fine sandpaper. That just made more scratches. My mom decided to use a black sharpie. It looked like my toddler had drawn all over the floor and it took me a week to get it off. I tried premixed filler but couldn't find a color that really matched. In hindsight, perhaps staining the filler ebony and then applying probably would work. I'm going to give it a try. I feel like there were other things I tried (because I tried A LOT of things) but these are the ones that come to mind.