How to Fill Nail Holes in Hardwood Floors

How to Fill Nail Holes in Hardwood Floors

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If you installed your own hardwood floors, chances are pretty big that they had to be nailed down. Of course, this is the best way to go about attaching flooring.

That said, the result is that you have many small holes in your hardwood floors. Therefore, how to fill nail holes in hardwood floors is what we are going to teach you today. We’ll cover what the best materials to use are, as well as what the process entails.

The Four Best Materials for Filling Hardwood Floor Nail Holes

There are a variety of materials, four in fact, that can be used to fill nail holes in hardwood floors, so let’s take a look.

1. Latex Floor Filler

Latex Floor Filler Most professional floorers will use a latex floor filler. This is a very easy-to-use material that comes complete in many different colors. This is an ideal material to use for filling large gaps, for filling in the entire floor prior to sanding, and for filling small nail holes as well.

The most important part here is of course to choose the best color of latex floor filler for the stain and finish that you will be using. Do keep in mind that latex filler will not accept stain itself. Also, keep in mind that latex floor filler may shrink or crack over time.

2. Lacquer Burn-In Sticks

Lacquer Burn-in Sticks Using lacquer burn-in sticks to fill nail holes in hardwood floors is another great option. This is a special type of solid lacquer stick that you melt using a clothing iron. You then use a trowel to apply the melted lacquer into the scratch or nail hole.

With that being said, although this is a very easy process, lacquer isn’t overly durable, so it shouldn’t be used for filling large gaps or holes, especially where longevity is in question.

However, a big advantage of using these lacquer burn-in sticks is the fact that they are excellent at color matching and have a great sheen.

3. Epoxy Wood Floor Filler

Epoxy Wood Filler The next option here is to use an epoxy wood floor filler, also known as an epoxy pre-finished wood floor filler.

These generally come in two parts that need to be mixed before use, but they are extremely resistant to cracking and shrinking. This makes them ideal for many purposes, as they last for a long time.

Another big bonus here is that epoxy pre-finished wood floor filler will adhere to wood extremely well. However, be sure that you choose the right color that will match the color of the finished floor, as epoxy filler will not take on stain.

4. Make Your Own Filler

Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective material to use for this purpose is your own do-it-yourself filler. To do this, you are going to use a special type of glue, with the best one being wood floor cement or any other kind of high-quality wood glue.

That said, be aware that if you use PVA glue or carpenter’s glue, it’s going to end up looking fairly yellowish. Therefore, a clear drying glue designed for use with wood is called for. For most purposes, epoxy adhesive is going to work best.

You are also going to need sawdust, preferably sawdust that came straight from the wood you use to make your floor. This will allow for proper color matching. You are just going to mix that epoxy with the sawdust, and then use it to fill the hole.

How to Fill Nail Holes in Hardwood Floors

Let’s now go through a step-by-step process on how to fill nail holes in hardwood floors using latex floor filler. Seeing as latex floor filler is what the professionals usually use, this is what we are going to use for our tutorial.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You will first need to gather all of your materials including latex wood filler, a small trowel or plastic putty knife, some sandpaper, and a vacuum. Be sure that you purchase high-quality latex wood filler, and make sure that the color matches what the finished color of your wood floor is going to be. In other words, you need to match the color of the latex wood filler to the color of the stain.

Step 2: Apply the Latex Wood Filler

Use your plastic putty knife to scoop a little bit of the latex wood filler out of the jar and then rub it into the nail hole. Make sure that you press the latex wood filler down into the nail holes using the flat side of the putty knife. You need to make sure that the hole is completely filled. Also, make sure that you use a plastic putty knife because metal can scratch the floors. Keep in mind that a little bit of latex wood filler goes a long way, as nail holes are fairly small.

Step 3: Remove the Excess Filler

Using the edge of your plastic putty knife, as well as a rag, you’re going to scrape away the excess latex floor filler. Just hold the front edge of your knife against the floor and move it over the holes. So you don’t get filler all over the place, wipe down your plastic putty knife after removing the excess from each hole.

Step 4: Let It Dry

Next, you’re going to want to wait for at least 30 minutes for everything to dry. How long it takes to dry will depend on the product in question, so be sure to read the directions on the latex filler that you got.

Step 5: Sand and Vacuum

You are now going to want to use some fine-grit sandpaper and move it in a circular motion over all of the nail holes that you have filled. make sure that the wood filler is completely flush with the rest of the floor. Finish things up by using your vacuum to suck up any remaining dust.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips and Tricks

  • When you sand the floor after having applied the putty or wood filler, make sure that you use fine-grit sandpaper. If the sandpaper is too coarse, you will scrape away too much of the material.
  • Remember that the latex filler will not take on stain, so you absolutely have to match the color of the filler with the stain that you will be using afterward.
  • Make sure to spend a good deal of time pressing the latex floor filler down into the nail holes, because you do want to fill them all the way.
  • Remember to not use metal tools, as you might damage the wooden floor.


You should now know exactly how to fill those pesky nail holes in hardwood floors, as well as what the best materials for doing so are.

If you are working on your floors now, you might also be interested in learning about how to sand hardwood floors and how to refinish them.