How to prevent scratches in hardwood floors - Westchester NYMany of my customers in Westchester County ask me how to prevent scratching in hardwood flooring, so I thought I would provide some tips.


First, let me caveat this by saying that ALL hardwood scratches. It’s just a matter of time. Anyone that tells you the hardwood won’t scratch isn’t telling the truth.


Here are some tips to MINIMIZE the scratches and prolong the life of your hardwood. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  By far, the #1 culprit of scratches is dirt/grit, so do whatever you can to minimize this.


Westchester hardwood flooring - Brazilian cherry - scratch prevention1. Take off your shoes! It is amazing how large an impact this can have on your floor. I just went to a repeat customer’s home…a rental. We installed the hardwood over 2 yrs ago and it looks like the job was done yesterday. That is the impact that removing your shoes has…even with renters! To make life simpler, add a plastic or rubber bin by the door to make it convenient for you and your guests. Maybe even add a bench near the door.


2. Add entry mats at the door. Water (and snow/salt) are the worst culprits and the areas by the door tend to wear down the fastest because of this. Get entrance mats – one for outside and one for inside the door. (and if you have an overhang above the front door that also helps).  You can buy some outdoor area mats here on  I sorted them to select options that are under $50 and the most popular ones on their site.


3. Add felt pads to the furniture, and get extras. The Felt Pads can make a big difference and they are especially important for chairs that move the most. Most people do not move the heavier items such as couches that often. I advise my customers to buy extra felt pads as they tend to fall off often especially on chairs that are moved frequently. You can buy the felt pads on Amazon through this link: Felt pads.



How to reduce scratches in your hardwood floors4. Avoid chairs with rollers. These really scratch up floors as dirt and grit tends to get caught in them. Either avoid them, or get mats for under these areas as they will destroy your hardwood floors. If you must use rollers, consider buying these Office Chair Caster Wheels – Ideal for hardwood floors on Amazon as they are better for hardwood floors.



5. Clean regularly to get the dirt/grit up. Swiffers or similar products are ideal.  Bona is the most highly recommended hardwood cleaner. Check out my recommendations on cleaning products.


6.  Avoid spiky shoes, stilettos, and cleats.  These can dig into woods and cause scratches.  And, of course, avoid dragging and sliding furniture as these can have the same impact.


7. Consider area rugs for areas where chairs are moved often. These can be especially handy for dining rooms or other areas where chairs are frequently moved. Area rugs will also reduce the noise. Also, you can use a plastic mat under rolling chairs (check out this one on Amazon: Clear office chair mat for Hardwood floors.) 



And, for kitchens, consider this anti-fatigue mat as it serves 2 purposes: 1) makes it easier on your feet, 2) prevents splashing water getting on the floor. Anti-Fatigue Mat for Stand up desks, kitchens and Garages – Designed to Relieve Foot, Knee and Back Pain.


8.  Clean the OUTSIDE of your house.


Since dirt, grit and pebbles that get caught in your shoes can be the biggest culprit of scratches, periodically clean and sweep the outside, especially in key entry areas – the front entrance, garage, back porch.  Remember if you have pets, to clean up the areas where they go out and in.  They don’t usually take their shoes off (LOL), so a little bit of elbow work will go a long way.
9.  Plan B – If you already have a scratch, consider trying one of these Minwax wood stain markers.  They come in several colors including dark walnut, provincial, golden oak, early american, cherry, red oak and red mahogany.


If you have pre-finished wood, definitely keep some spare pieces, just in case they are needed for later.  You never know if you will have some sort of water damage (e.g. from leaky toilet on the floor above), pet accidents, plants, furniture scraping when moving items, or accidents from kids (or grand kids).



pet resistant carpetI get a lot of questions about pets and hardwood. Generally, most cats do not cause issues with their claws (although sometimes kitty litter can scratch up the floor so be careful to clean that up). There seems to be more issues with dogs claws and for sure trimming nails will usually help. I’ve also read somewhere that there are some sort of doggie nail covers, but most pet lovers would prefer to leave the pets alone. You can read more here on types of hardwood flooring that are best for pets.


How to prevent scratches in hardwood floors - maintenance tipsDoes adding an extra coat of polyurethane help prevent scratches? Well this depends. If your hardwood is pre-finished, then, no this will actually make your floor more susceptible to scratches (as it will sand off some of the aluminum oxide) and it will void your manufacturer warranty. If however, you have hardwood that has been finished on site (i.e. it was sanded in the home), then, an extra coat can help reduce scratching.


BONUS TIP:  I generally recommend to my customers that they do a screen and recoat 3- 4 years after they’ve had their floors refinished.  This is preventative maintenance and should be done before you have scratches through the color.  This is a method of adding an additional coat of poly for protection.  You can read more about it here:  What is buffing?  How can a screen and recoat help your hardwood floors?


Check out my ebook:


What to look out for when buying a new home with hardwood floors ebookI wrote this e-book to help new home buyers make smart decisions when looking for homes with hardwood floors…or looking to buy a home and then add hardwood. I’ve packaged all of my best tips into this book and hope it will help you make smarter choices in your flooring choices and in buying a home that can support high quality floors.



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Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors, whether they are light or dark



Disclosure: Please note that some of the above links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission, if you decide to purchase them. Please note that these are products I know/use and recommend to my customers. I recommend them as they are good products. I am in the flooring business to help my customers and that is how I earn my living, not by the small commissions earned on these products.

How to prevent scratches in your hardwood flooring – Westchester NY











11 Response Comments

  • Ken R  March 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Wow! Great article! I will make these suggestions to my customers who insist on bamboo floor installations. I have had many requests to refinish relatively new bamboo floors. Apparently although bamboo is harder than almost all hardwoods, it appears to be more susceptible to scratching. It is conventionally accepted that bamboo can not be refinished due to its fibrous structure. For this reason it is critical that customers who insist on bamboo be aware of these anti-scratch tips. Thanks!

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 31, 2012 at 2:12 am

      Ken – Thx so much. While bamboo is often harder than oak, it usually shows the scratches and dents more. And, Recently, I went to an apartment that has bamboo flooring. They had a minor water leak. It appears that the bamboo also seems to be more susceptible to water than oak and it seemed to spread out more than how I usually see it on oak.

  • Donna L  July 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Hi debbie,
    I am so confused with buying an area rug for my hardwood floors. What type of rug should I look for that will not scratch the floors? We do not want to use a pad underneath…some rugs just feel very gritty and I know they will scratch..HELP!!
    thank you,

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 30, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Hi Donna. First, even though you don’t want to buy a carpet pad, I would highly recommend that you get one for the following reasons:
      1. It’s the best way to prevent scratches.
      2. It will prolong the life of your area rug
      3. It will help keep you area rug in place and prevent it from slipping.

      That is the best advice I can give you…and bear in mind the carpet pad does not need to be thick.

      If you want to go against all the manufacturer’s suggestions (both the carpet and hardwood manufacturers), then the next best bet is to get a carpet w/ soft back which scratches less. Shaw makes carpets like this. You will need to check the backs for the white backing. Not all of them have that. Please note that this will severely limit the type and color selection of your area rug and you will most likely need to do a solid or tone on tone.

      As I said above, I would rather see you get the area rug of your choice and just do a thin carpet pad underneath.

  • Kishore  June 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Hi – Great article. Would you recommend a chair mat (such as those available in Office Depot etc) or an area rug for an office area in the house where rolling chairs are used? Do the chair mats stain the hardwood over time? Thanks!

    • TheFlooringGirl  June 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      Kishore – I think both can work. I would not think that mats stain the hardwood, but you do need to wait at least 30 days before putting them on top. I might also check w/ the manufacturer to make sure there isn’t an issue.

  • Tiffany  July 31, 2016 at 8:34 am

    The dog / cat claw covers are called softpaws, they’re basically an acrylic nail sheath. I had to put them on my cat as part of a rental agreement once, she got used to them pretty quickly (although we’re both much happier when we moved and didn’t have that requirement anymore.

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 31, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Tiffany – Oh wow, thanks for that information. I will need to look them up. I don’t think my cats would be happy with them either.


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