I was considering using wood markers to hide those worn (scraped) areas on my hardwood floor. Would that work, or what would be other, better ways?

UPDATE (2/26): Wood stain worked very well. Great tip.

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  • 2
    That looks like real wood, the wood colour should go right to the bottom. Picture is showing something on top of the wood, a stain, stuff from a floor covering(carpet), fungus. If cleaning does nothing, then might be time for re-finishing to bring the floor back to new or better.
    – crip659
    Feb 9 at 20:10
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    Might just be the way the picture came out, but real wood scrapes/worn areas do not usually show up as blue/grey areas. Maybe another picture in different light might show better, but real hardwood does look good with a sanding and finishing. Some patch jobs can come out looking worst.
    – crip659
    Feb 9 at 20:41
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    @crip659 What I'm seeing is sections of wood where the clearcoat came off, and the wood was bleached by exposure to the air. Otherwise I agree, wood markers won't help here, the only way is to sand and refinish the whole floor. Feb 9 at 21:05
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    I suspect the blue is just the result of the camera trying to white-balance against the amber varnish.
    – keshlam
    Feb 9 at 23:32
  • 1
    @keshlam In reality it looks grey.
    – JeanB
    Feb 10 at 2:02

2 Answers 2


I would not recommend wood markers for this type of repair.

The best solution is to refinish the entire floor which means sanding it all down, applying an appropriate stain and clear coat. If you're not sure how to do this or don't care to tackle it, a professional refinisher would be the way to go.

I have had success in spot staining hardwood floors by sanding the damaged area and restaining but it's almost impossible to make it a perfect match with the rest of the floor. This type of spot repair works best on older floors that have variations in shading throughout the floor but it requires a lot of time and patience and you still may be unhappy with the result.

I start by using a fine grade of sandpaper and sand lightly enough to just get down to the natural wood. Select a high grade natural wood stain in a color that you think would best match the existing finish. It's best to try it first on an area in a closet or somewhere inconspicuous. Apply it according to manufacturer directions using a soft clean cloth. Remember you can usually go darker once it's applied but not lighter.

The final step is to apply a clear coat. You'll want to match the gloss on the existing floor which will be difficult because of wear. Importantly, follow all of the maufacturer's directions.
I'm sure some of the wood floor pros here will have additional suggestions.

  • Thanks. I'm renting so I can't do the whole floor. But I'll look into wood stains.
    – JeanB
    Feb 9 at 21:19
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    Aha! Renting! You might want to talk to your landlord to get his/her buy-in before you do anything. You don't want to end up losing your deposit if they're not happy with the result. In which case - maybe a throw rug?
    – HoneyDo
    Feb 9 at 23:19
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    Note that if you're using (penetrating) stains, how much you sand the wood also affects how much stain they take up. Which is why I'd lean toward glaze rather than stain in this case, much as I usually prefer the way real stains can enhance the grain pattern. You don't want this to be dramatic, you just want it to be unnoticed.
    – keshlam
    Feb 9 at 23:27
  • Yes, refinishing the whole floor is certainly the most reliable way to make sure it all looks the same. This can be a DIY project; I've done that too -- but definitely wants the landlord's involvement, and ideally their financial involvement. (Floor sanders which use multiple disks and have their own dust collection make this much easier than using either the belt-sander or one-large-disk varieties; the multidisk machines are much less likely to try to dig into the floor if you're careless. They do cost a bit more to rent. Personally I'd recommend renting an air cleaner too.)
    – keshlam
    Feb 9 at 23:31
  • @keshlam What sort of glaze do you recommend? I got a product called Weiman and all it does is make the surface shiny without changing the color, which made it look even worse.
    – JeanB
    Feb 10 at 2:01

Since you are renting, I would ask the owner before doing ANYTHING, since otherwise if your repair is less than perfect they're likely to call it deliberate damage and take it out of your security deposit. Best would be to get them to do it, or get them to tell you who you can call to have it done, so any problems are clearly Not Your Fault.

If they tell you that you can do it yourself, and you really want to do so...

The color you're seeing here is probably just the yellow tint of an oil-based varnish. (Maybe polyurethane, maybe something else.) The problem will be matching that color well enough that you don't wind up with just a tinted set of well-defined splotches.

What I did in my own house, when I had put down a new threshold across the living-room passageway, was to use a very dilute colorant, and one that was partly reversible: Shellac. Since its solvent is alcohol, shellac will adhere to either oil-based or water-based finishes without trouble, and indeed is often used as a sealant layer between those two categories since they don't usually adhere well to each other. And shellac is available in a range of colors from light yellow to reddish; the most common is "amber", which is a medium yellow.

Shellac isn't a stain -- it doesn't soak into the wood and enhance the grain pattern -- but I was using amber shellac as a glaze to gradually add color, layer by layer, until the new board was acceptably close to the aged oil-varnish finish of the older boards. (If I'd been exactly trying to match the color, a layer or two of ruby shellac would have brought it closer in hue.) If I had overshot, I could probably have scrubbed some of the shellac off with alcohol-soaked rags and tried again; you can't do that with a penetrating stain.

I then applied several coats of WATER-BASED polyurethane varnish (which doesn't add color of its own) to protect the shellac from wear or chemicals, and to match the gloss of the existing varnish.

I don't know how well that approach would work in your case, where you're trying to fix an area within a board and so don't have the "it's from a different tree" excuse for color variation. But if I had to do it, I think I'd try that again.

  • Key point: If they say you can do it yourself, have 'em put it in writing before starting!
    – FreeMan
    Feb 13 at 12:37
  • Probably good advice.
    – keshlam
    Feb 13 at 13:58

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