I have two large dogs, of which one has nails that any woman would kill for, and the energy of a nuclear power plant. My home's primary living areas are all hardwood floors: kitchen, bath, living room, dining room, and staircases. I have an open floor plan.

My hardwood floors are engineered Bruce Oak with a high gloss finish have areas that are severely scratched and grooved from the dogs' nails. Around columns and corners the finish is gone from my female dog who runs laps up and down the stairs and around the breakfast table and snack bar area. I have had so many unqualified friends give me advice on repairing these areas that I am very confused on what to do.

Can anyone tell me what is the best way to fill these groves below the finish and put the finish back down without having a professional come in to do it? I am fairly self sufficient and do a lot of my own home improvements. I can fix almost anything except the furnace and have done everything from auto, appliance, and home repairs for friends as well as myself.

I just need to know what the best filler/putty or compound is for filling, and what type of polyurethane I should use. I would also like some type of technical assistance, step by step, on how to do the repairs.

  • Its clear from youre question that you want to repair (fill in) the gouges in the floor, but if you simply want to color them, I've found Old English does a decent job.
    – n00b
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 21:51
  • Live with the scratches. Save a few dollars to refinish before you sell.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there is really no magic putty or filler for shallow scratches and gouges in hardwood flooring. Even though there are a lot of colored wood fillers on the market, they are not designed for high traffic flooring or nuclear dogs. If it was just a couple of scratches you might be able to sneak by with a filler, but not for a refinishing job in a larger area as you describe. Most engineered flooring has 3/16" to 1/4" of hardwood veneer over a plywood base. If the scratches have not gone through the veneer, then you can sand the scratches smooth, stain to match, and refinish with 3 to 4 coats of urethane. I would recommend an oil based urethane. Apply 3 to 4 thin coats rather than 1 or 2 thick coats. Remember, the veneer is fairly thin and usually can only be sanded and refinished 2 or 3 times at best. Once the scratching penetrates the plywood base, your floor is unrepairable.

My advise would be to protect the floors with area rugs, runners, etc or keep the dog's nails cut short, or better yet, train them to behave in the house.

  • Thanks for the dog advice... lol They are really well behaved, the female is a Anatolian Shepard and very high strung. She never stops, and rarely rests, which is their nature, and I have thier nail trimmed regularly, but the female would have to have her done weekly to keep them short. The vet charges $25 per pup and I have two. I tried to do them myself, but... well let's just say, I was not cut out for vet work!! :) Back to the floors, the area that is worn the mo
    – Antoinette
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 23:20
  • Where the floors are showing the wear the most is by the colums, and where she digs down realo hard to go around the corners while doing her work out. Carpets won't helopme there. Do these areas need to have the entire hardwood plank replaced??
    – Antoinette
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 23:23
  • 1
    can u post a picture of the damage? Replacing individual planks of engineered flooring is no easy task. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 7:05

A high-gloss finish and energetic dogs (or kids, for that matter) probably make a bad combination. It may be too late for your floor, but if you have to replace it and want more wood, I would recommend something with a texture to it. There are a number of wirebrushed engineered floor choices that do a great job of hiding scratches; in fact, they only give it more character! A light-colored wirebrushed engineered floor might be the perfect thing.


I'm confused. Why are you going to go to the trouble of repairing the floors, if you are keeping the dogs and they are still going to be tearing around? The repaired floor will just get ruined again, so waste of money and time. You say rugs are not an option. Why? Slippage? You could use a non-slip underpad. The other option is broadloom installed wall to wall, although aesthetically that's not always a preference...

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