The floors in this home are likely original from the 1920's. The lovely owners of the house before me did not care much as it was a rental, and we now have tons of paint and holes on and in the floors.

I'm going to refinish the floors because of the excess of scratches and paint marks. I'd love to be able to fix the holes as well.

From what I understand, the two options are to 1) use wood fill, 2) let poly fill the holes.

What is the best way to make holes such as the ones below look good?

Large: Large

Medium: Medium

Small: Small

  • 5
    Large are hard to match, I have rented a large belt sander in the past sander everything and saved the dust, mixed with wood glue to form a paste and filled medium and small with good results. The problem on large the fill will probably crack and pull out. I find it better to cut out big spots and put in a new plank then refinish.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 14:59
  • 4
    I've seen a few pro's actually substitute planks from a closet or similar unseen area to patch a spot like this. It's a ton of work, but the result is great considering you're using the same batch of wood from the same period. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 11:28
  • 1
    I'd inspect the subfloor/joists under the 2nd picture (of the medium size hole) to see if there's a reason why those floor boards are breaking as it looks like those replacement floor boards may have replaced more broken floor boards. Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 16:56
  • I have a question, are you saying that the floor boards are simply on the beams or as I suspect diagonal subfloor on the beams?
    – Plinker
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 20:44
  • If you sand and refinish, don't use wax- even Murphy's. If you don't, the floor could be refinished next time W:o sanding.
    – user67544
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 12:33

4 Answers 4


The only long term solution is to replace the boards. As others have mentioned, wood filler cracks out and in some cases looks like cat litter after a while. The reason is that the wood expands and contracts as the humidity changes between the seasons.

Replacing the boards is not as difficult as it seems, but the repairs will stick out unless you refinish that section of the floor. Theres a great 'this old house' video which demonstrates how to do this.

For the small gaps, the recommended solution, from a couple of floor refinishing professionals, was to leave them as character. Filling them will crack out, replacing them will be a ton of labor and may end up with the same cracks in the end - especially depending on what season you're in.


One of the nicest floor I've ever seen was in a small grocery store in San Miguel, CA. Built in the 20s or 30s, it shrank quite a bit and had been well worn from foot traffic. Each night it was liberally doused with pinesol and water, and left to dry. Every now and then it was oiled. I was gorgeous, rustic, authentic.

Basically, don't worry about the nicks and cuts and stuff. Sand if you want just to keep splinters away, oil, and enjoy. Tung oil is good. You can also just wax it with a good floor wax.


There does appear to be some form of structural damage beneath the damaged boards. Any kind of 'patch' or replacement may bring similar results over time. I would cut out and remove the entire section of board, inspect the joists and proceed from there. Once structural soundness is evaluated, buy replacement flooring, using a cut-out section for best match. You can often find decent replacement planks at a building salvage yard at a reasonable price.

Solid plank flooring is tricky. Once damage is removed, if you don’t feel confident doing that task, I would get a wood floor pro to do replacement. Removing damaged floor yourself will save some on cost, but if not confident, you could create damage more expensive to repair.

If this process is too much for whatever reason, I would sand out the damaged areas and fill with plastic wood putty. The result will not be beautiful, but you can make it acceptable and reduce trip hazard.

  • 1
    Theres no structural damage below the boards. The home's got a basement so you can check easily. It does not have sub floor, since it was built in the 20's. Most likely the damage was caused by something heavy falling there - which is directly between the joists. Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 17:19

just go to youtube and search for lacquer sticks. they are the best way to make tough, perfect match repairs to wood. you can buy them at lee valley and other places.

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