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How to Fix Scratches on Wood Furniture

by Walker Furniture

hand buffing a scratch out of a wood furniture piece

At a Glance:

Scratches and Wood Types

How to Fix Scratches on Wood Furniture

How to Protect Your Wood Furniture

Wood Furniture from Walker


Why Trust Us?

What do you do when your wood furniture is scratched? Thanks to its timeless appeal, solid construction, and adaptability to different design styles, wood is a popular furniture choice. Generally, it stands up to wear and tear, but occasionally, it gets scratched. When that happens, there is no reason to fear – there are tried and true methods for fixing wood scratches.

In this guide to handling wood furniture scratches, we’ll discuss the types of wood that are most and least susceptible to scratches, how to fix scratches on wood furniture, and how to protect your wood furniture from scratches in the first place. Then, we’ll highlight how you can incorporate wood in every room in your home from the dining room to the bedroom and answer frequently asked questions.

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Scratches and Wood Types

man polishing wood furniture piece

The susceptibility of wood to scratching varies depending on the wood species, its hardness, the finish you apply, and how well you maintain it. Hardwood species are generally more resistant to scratching than softwood species. Here's a list of some wood types, from those most susceptible to scratches to those least susceptible:

Most Susceptible to Scratches (Softer Woods)

  • Pine: Pine is a softwood known for its vulnerability to scratches and dents. Its attractive grain pattern doesn't offer the same level of durability as hardwoods, but it is a less expensive choice.
  • Cedar: Cedar is another softwood that is relatively soft and prone to surface damage, making it susceptible to scratches.
  • Fir: Like pine, fir is a softwood and is less durable, making it prone to scratches and dents.
  • Birch: Birch is a hardwood but falls on the softer side of the hardwood spectrum. It can be susceptible to scratches, especially in areas of heavy use.

Moderately Susceptible to Scratches (Mid-range Hardwoods)

  • Cherry: Cherry is a hardwood, but it's not as hard as some other hardwoods. It can be susceptible to scratching, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • Walnut: Walnut is considered a hardwood, but it's not as hard as some other hardwoods like oak or hickory. It's more resistant to scratches than softer woods but may still show wear over time.
  • Maple: Maple is a hardwood and falls into the mid-range in terms of hardness. It's commonly used for furniture and flooring and is relatively durable but can still show scratches under heavy wear.

Least Susceptible to Scratches (Harder Woods)

  • Oak: Oak is a very hard and durable hardwood, making it one of the least susceptible to scratches and dents. It is a popular choice for flooring and furniture.
  • Hickory: Hickory is one of the hardest domestic hardwoods and is highly resistant to scratches and wear.
  • Mahogany: Mahogany is a dense and hard tropical hardwood that is resistant to scratches and has a smooth, even grain.
  • Teak: Teak is an exceptionally hard tropical hardwood used in outdoor furniture. It is highly resistant to scratching and stands up well to wear and tear.

Even the hardest woods can be scratched or damaged under heavy wear and tear, and even softer woods can hold up if you take good care of them. The finish and maintenance of the wood play a significant role in its resistance to scratching. Proper sealing and finishing of wood surfaces can improve their resistance to scratches and other forms of surface damage, which we’ll talk more about later in the article.

→ Learn more: Wood Nightstand Ideas: Bedroom Styles

How to Fix Scratches on Wood Furniture

hand using wood filling putty on a scrached wood furniture piece

First, let’s talk about the different types of scratches: light surface scratches and deep scratches. Light scratches require less intensive repair methods while a deep scratch may require using wood filler and minor refinishing. Whether you have cat scratches on wood furniture or dog scratches on wood furniture favorites, there are ways to fix almost any scratch.

How to Fix Light Scratches on Wood Furniture

Light scratches are surface-level scratches that typically affect only the top finish of the wood. They do not penetrate deeply into the wood itself. They are often less noticeable, appearing as faint lines or scuffs on the surface. They may affect the finish and gloss of the wood but don't leave a significant groove or indentation. First, begin by cleaning the scratched area using a gentle wood cleaner or a mixture of mild soap and water to remove any dirt or grime. Then try one of the following methods:

✓ Rubbing Alcohol: Lightly moisten a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol, then gently rub the scratch in a circular motion. This can sometimes swell the wood fibers and make the scratch less noticeable.
✓ Vinegar and Olive Oil: Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and olive oil. Dab a soft cloth into the mixture and rub it into the scratch using small, circular motions. Wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
✓ Wood Polish: Apply a wood polish or wax to the scratch, following the product's instructions. This can help fill minor scratches and restore shine.

One favorite tried and true way how to remove scratches on wood is by using a 1:1 mixture of cooking oil and white vinegar, allowing the mixture to sit on your furniture for one to two minutes before wiping it away. Whatever method you choose, once you've treated the scratch, buff the area with a soft, clean cloth to restore the shine and blend the repaired spot with the rest of the furniture.

How to Fix Deep Scratches on Wood Furniture

Deep scratches are more severe and penetrate below the surface finish, often reaching into the wood itself. They create noticeable grooves or indentations. They are prominent and can significantly mar the appearance of the furniture, making them more challenging to repair. If your scratch is deep enough, it’s going to require wood filler to fix. Here’s how to handle a deep scratch:

  1. Fill the Scratch: Use a wax filler stick or wood filler that matches the color of your furniture to fill the scratch. Apply the filler to the scratch, overfilling it slightly.
  2. Scrape Off Excess Filler: After the filler has dried, use a plastic putty knife or a credit card to scrape off the excess filler, leaving the repaired area level with the surrounding wood.
  3. Sand the Area: Lightly sand the repaired area with fine-grit sandpaper, moving in the direction of the wood grain. This will smooth out the filled scratch and prepare it for finishing.
  4. Refinish the Spot: Apply a matching wood stain or finish to the sanded area using a wood stain pen or a small brush. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying and curing time.
  5. Seal the Repair: Once the stain or finish has dried, seal the repaired area with a clear wood finish, such as polyurethane or shellac. This will help protect the wood and provide a consistent shine.
  6. Buff and Blend: After the final finish has dried, buff the entire piece of furniture with a soft, clean cloth to ensure that the repaired area blends in seamlessly with the rest of the surface.

If deep scratches are extensive, it may be necessary to consult a professional furniture restorer or consider refinishing the entire piece of furniture. Light scratches can usually be handled with simpler DIY methods. Always test any cleaning or repair method on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't cause further damage.

How to Protect Your Wood Furniture

person pouring wood polish on a piece of wood furniture

It’s great to know how to fix scratches on wood furniture, but how can you protect wood furniture so you avoid scratches in the first place? For a wooden dining table, protect it with tablecloths and placemats. Tablecloths, placemats, or table runners provide an extra layer of protection. For a wooden side table or wooden coffee table in the living room or when you’re working at your wood desk, use protective pads and coasters. Make sure to use coasters under glasses, cups, and hot or cold objects to prevent moisture or temperature changes from damaging the wood finish.

Here are a few more tips for protecting your wood furniture:

➤ Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: Dust furniture regularly to remove abrasive particles that can cause scratches. Wipe up spills promptly to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood and damaging the finish.
➤ Apply Furniture Wax or Polish: Use a quality furniture wax or polish to create a protective barrier on the wood surface. Follow the product's instructions for application and reapplication.
➤ Keep Pets' Nails Trimmed: If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed to prevent them from inadvertently scratching the furniture when they jump onto it or walk near it.
➤ Avoid Sharp Objects: Be mindful of sharp objects like keys, scissors, and tools when placing them on wooden surfaces. Consider using a designated tray or container for such items.

Wood Furniture at Walker

At Walker Furniture, you can find new and durable wood furniture that is properly sealed to prevent scratches. Wood furniture is timeless and classic, and you can find stylish wood pieces for every room in your home. We offer solid wood and engineered wood options.

Wood Furniture for the Bedroom

wooden bedroom set containing a matching bed, dresser, vanity, and nightstand in a traditional and modern bedroom

Pictured: Tigard 6 Piece Queen Bedroom Set

In the bedroom, you can incorporate wood throughout the room from your nightstand to your bed frame. A wood dresser is worth investing in because it will last you for years and never go out of style. If you want to coordinate the wood tone and grain throughout your room, a wood bedroom set is a great way to simplify your bedroom design.

Wood Furniture for the Dining Room

wooden dining table and matching chairs in a modern farmhouse dining room

Pictured: Denver 5 Piece Dining Set

In the dining room, you can incorporate a wood dining table, wood chairs, or even wood cabinets to provide extra storage. For those who love to entertain, wood bar and wine furniture allows you to have all your drinks and supplies at hand so you don’t have to step away from your guests to prepare drinks.

Wood Furniture for the Living Room

three round modern wood living room tables, one coffee table, one side table, and one counter height table, in a modern white living space

Pictured: Era Cocktail Table

Although you might typically think of fabric and soft surfaces in the living room, there are hard surfaces as well. You can choose stylish wood end tables, a wood coffee table, or a wood entertainment center. In a larger living room, wood bookshelves offer extra storage and opportunities to display pictures and favorite items.

Don’t let the potential threat of scratches stop you from buying the wood furniture pieces you love. Whether you choose simple and modern wood pieces, whitewashed wood for a farmhouse space, or elegant traditional wood furniture, you can find quality wood furniture to suit your style. At Walker Furniture, you can find stylish and affordable wood furniture for every room in your home. Stop by and browse our wide variety of wood furniture in person at one of our Nevada showrooms.


What wood doesn't scratch?

Hardwoods like oak and mahogany are less prone to scratches than softwoods like pine and cedar.

What is the best method to fix wood scratches?

The best method depends on whether your scratch is surface-level or deep. Deep scratches require the use of wood filler while you may be able to handle a light scratch with oil or wood polish.

Is wood furniture worth it?

Yes! Wood furniture is worth the investment because it is durable, timeless, and will last you the long haul both in terms of quality and adaptability to changing styles over the years.

Where can I find wood furniture near me?

Walker Furniture offers a wide range of wood furniture for Las Vegas shoppers of every budget.

Why Trust Walker Furniture & Mattress?

Walker Furniture and Mattress has been providing incredible customer service and top furniture expertise to the Las Vegas area for over 67 years. This locally owned furniture store has a humble beginning as a mattress builder in the Chicago area since the 1900’s which blossomed into a booming legacy of selling furniture and mattresses. In 1973, Deanne and Oscar Alterwitz purchased Walker Furniture from original owners, Ruth and George Walker.

Walker Furniture helps Las Vegas and Henderson homeowners and renters find the best living room, dining, and bedroom furniture selections to complete their homes. Complete with mattresses, living room furniture, patio decor, and home office furniture. We invite you to see all that Walker Furniture has to offer for yourself!

Shop Wood Furniture at Walker Furniture & Mattress

Stop by any of our 3 Las Vegas furniture locations or our Henderson, NV furniture store to see what a difference buying locally with an experienced staff can make. Or shop for wood furniture online! Our friendly experts are always happy to help you in your journey on how to fix scratches on wood furniture — whether you call us at 702-384-9300, use our online chat feature, or visit us in person.

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