After an anti-squeak effort, we've got a bunch of 1/8" holes in the hardwood floor. These are aligned with the original nail holes, so they will blend in if darker than the wood.

What putty should we use? After that do we apply a little dot of polyurethane? Sand? I spent some time at the hardware store, but none of the putty or products mentioned floors as an application. The existing floor appears to be a semi-gloss, but I can't be sure (it was refinished prior to our home purchase, but the contractors did not leave any stain or supplies). I'm more concerned about feathering the poly layer, compared to matching the color.

My floors have 8mm of hardwood, 1mm of paper spacer, on top of 18mm of old growth Douglass Fir boards. The house was built in 1938, and everything is obviously stabilized from a moisture point of view. The floors bow slightly as the beams below are overspanned.

3 Answers 3


Just use some of that colored wood putty to fill the holes and put a dot of clear shellac on the putty holes after 3 days of drying. You'll want some powdered whiting to dry out the putty enough to handle (make a wad that doesn't stick to your hands) Once you push the putty into the hole strike it off flush with a putty knife and wipe the excess off with a clean rag. Apply the shellac to the putty only. Do not sand anything. Shellac is handy for many projects. The whiting can be used to make putty from paints and stains, dry out putties for glazing windows & filling nail holes and to thicken paints.


Most engineered and laminate floor installations come with a repair kit such as this. They can also be found in home centers.


It usually consists of wax crayons color matched to the floor to rub into small nailholes or other imperfections. These are rubbed over the hole to fill it, scaped flush and then buffed slightly with a dry cloth.

Because they are wax, they cannot be coated with a finish, but for small holes this generally is not an issue

A hadware store can provide the wax crayon fillers such as these:


Pick a few colors. They can be blended and will come in handy later on.

The kits also usually contain a small bottle of a polyurethane type finish matched in sheen to the floor for scratches. In theory, you could fill, stain and then seal small nail holes with this finish, but usually not done.

Finding a small bottle of matching scratch filler will be tougher than wax fillers and the process more compicated.

  • These are large enough holes, I'd like a permanent (finishable) solution. Fortunately all the existing nail holes are nearly black, so matching is not a problem.
    – Bryce
    Aug 9, 2012 at 21:29
  • I looked at this question before asking a similar question in regard to chips and scratches in our laminate flooring. I was pleasantly surprised to see that repair kit is for laminate as well. I'm new to the site, but maybe this would be a good edit to the original question or should it be a separate question? Aug 11, 2012 at 1:33
  • @Anticipation - will do.
    – bib
    Aug 11, 2012 at 1:43

If you can swipe a small sample piece of the floor (maybe from a closet or something), and take it to a hardware or paint store. Knowledgeable folks at some stores might be able to help you find a combination of products that will match perfectly. If this is not an option (which often times it's not), experimenting on a scrap piece of wood might be your best bet. Keep in mind, you might have to mix different stains to get an exact (or close enough) match.

Once you've found the right combination of products. Simply fill the holes with the selected wood filler, and lightly sand the filler smooth once it dries. Apply the matching stain, and allow it to dry. Then apply a few coats of polyurethane, sanding lightly between coats using 280 or finer grit sandpaper.

  • 1
    What grit sandpaper is used between coats?
    – Bryce
    Aug 8, 2012 at 20:50
  • Fortunately all the existing nail holes are nearly black, so matching is not a problem.
    – Bryce
    Aug 9, 2012 at 21:29

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