Asked on Aug 06, 2013

How to repair nail holes in 55 year old oak flooring.

Michelle M
by Michelle M
We Just moved into a 55 year old home and have started to renovate it. We pulled the carpet up to find beautiful oak flooring. Along the foyer the carpet had been stapled and had small tacks. How do I go about removing the very small holes and stains. I have tried to sand but it just removes the finish, the stain is still there. Any help would be appreciated!
  21 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Aug 06, 2013
    There is no easy way to remove the holes. The best you can hope for is to putty them with a color matched product. Using an oil based putty will help if you are planning to "poly" the floor. I like to do that between the first and second coats. By doing it after the first coat you are less likely to fill some of the grain in the surrounding wood. Some stains will sand out others will not, it depends on what the stain is and how deep it has sunk into the wood. Applying a slightly darker stain to the whole floor can sometimes mask or hide minor defects. You need to keep in mind that this is a floor and not the dinning room table, a little character is bound to show it self in a 50 + year old home. Last year I worked on some flooring that was 86 years old.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 07, 2013
    We have these and left them. They tell a story. Hopefully the next person will leave them as well, so their story passes on. xo
    • See 1 previous
    • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Aug 09, 2013
      @Marlena Indeed!!! Sometimes folks get caught up in making things "Perfect" and forget the charm of the "Imperfect". LOVE your reference to the 'Cattle Brand'!!! xox
  • Marlena Marlena on Aug 07, 2013
    Yes why would you try to get rid of them? They're beautiful!!!
  • I'm not sure if this would work on flooring, but in watching a mr. fix it type show, the guy showed a tip on getting rid of scratches on wood cabinets. He took ordinary walnuts and just rubbed them on the scratches. they basically disappeared. I'm not sure how it works, but it did and was pretty amazing. The only issue I can see is I don't think it would help with the dark stain marks around the holes. But like the previous comments, I think they are kinda cool. adds character.
  • Lou Lou on Aug 08, 2013
    My first choice would be to leave the staple holes. They add character. Otherwise, buy one or more furniture scratch up markers that best match your floor. Use the fine tip of the marker to restain the staple holes. Optional. After the marker color has dried fill each pin hole with a dab of clear silicon chaulk applied using your finger tip. Quickly rub off any excess chaulk. After the chaul is dry use a paste wax to to shine up the stapled area.
  • Carol Carol on Aug 08, 2013
    Leave them...they give the floor something new floors will never have. I do not thing there is way to "cover" them and not leave behind signs of repair so why not leave them as it. I love the look
  • Robert Moore Robert Moore on Aug 08, 2013
    When we took up carpeting from our oak flooring, we found nail/staple holes, dark stains (from previous owner's cats!), even a burned area--we left them all. Connects to history, I think.
  • Lindy S Lindy S on Aug 08, 2013
    I would leave them too, they're beautiful
    • Sal10822870 Sal10822870 on Nov 22, 2016
      i so agree with leaving it as is. charm of the old wood. it is charming to have that kind of floor an i for one am envious. enjoy them as they are. sallie newman
  • Those staple/tackless type holes are really rust stains in the wood surface. You can sand and sand but you will never remove them until you sand down past the depth that they went in. Different types of waxes such as R. Adam suggested may do the trick, but your really not going to have a lot of luck as they tend to show up as the wax wears off. Filling them with putties also the same thing. As the stain goes beyond the hole into the wood and all that the putties and wax for that matter will fill the holes and not cover the stain itself. The only real method of removal is to sand floors down, putty and apply new stain on the entire floor that is dark enough to hide these marks.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Aug 09, 2013
    I have seen some floors where bad areas were "plugged" a nasty spot is drilled out and a wood plug is installed...this works well for say a simple cigarette burn or other single type damaged area...having a whole row however may look worse.
  • Bonita Bonita on Sep 11, 2016
    Has anyone used wood bleach on the holes, then varnish?
  • Jacqueline McIntosh Jacqueline McIntosh on Jan 29, 2017

    I have this look in my old 1889 kitchen floor. I like the look of it. It gives the floor a story of how the room used to be set up. I kept mine there and love the look. People do ask about them, and that gives me a chance to talk about how old my house is and it really is sort of a conversation piece.

  • Crystal Meyer Griffith Crystal Meyer Griffith on Jan 29, 2017

    I love the look of your floors. We have wood floors that were originally in a house built in 1940. Had to clean the edges and pull all nails to install. There was one board that had an oval stain on it. Hubby said that is the one he scraped a dead snake carcass off of. It is right in the middle of the room and we joke about having "snake oil" in our wood. There is a small dark stain the shape of a big cockroach. I think it is partly a knot in the wood but it has startled me several times and it has been "killed" a couple times when I didn't have my glasses on at night. Even the cats stalk it. Enjoy your perfectly imperfect floors and your older home. Usually built better than today's builds.

  • 18579179 18579179 on Jan 30, 2017

    Hi there, depending on how much "meat" is still left on the hardwood, I'd have to recommend a full sanding. From the pic, they look to be in good enough shape to withstand sanding and refinishing. The sanding will surely remove those tack holes, then wood filler can be added for any spacing in between the planks, and other discrepancies. With the full sanding, you'll now have the option of adding a stain color. If there are other "problem" areas of the wood floor, (such as old water damage around radiator pipes, etc...) you may want to add a darker color to the wood, in order to hide them. There's no doubt in my mind that this will be the best option for ensuring a floor you'll love and enjoy for years to come.

    Best of Luck! And if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us!


  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Feb 04, 2017

    One could use a router to cut a groove in the floor and place a contrasting wood strip in it. Lots of work. It depends on how bad it looks to you.

  • Tin19592866 Tin19592866 on Feb 05, 2017

    Try Whink or other rust stain remover....

  • Lisa Petersen Lisa Petersen on Feb 07, 2017

    As far as staining your floor darker goes, keep in mind that darker stains show everything! Our house is from 1939, original wood floors, but the previous owner had them retained darker then protected with a verathane varnish, so their dogs wouldn't scratch it. We have three dogs, two of which shed, and if I don't vacuum every day you would think mice lived with us the dust bunnies grow so quickly! Your floor color is lovely, neutral, and won't show a ton of dirt (although you'll know it's there if you walk barefoot, it won't be an eyesore). I like the character of the marks, it gives your floor personality. I would recommend leaving them as is...

  • Paulette Paulette on Feb 08, 2017

    I agree with Lisa. Dark wood floors look dusty quickly. This is a long time after the original question, so if you have chosen a suggestion, let us know what it was. Pictures would be great too. I have the same problem with unknown stains and staple holes. Some we covered with an area rug, but the rest just let it all hang out. I always thought I would try wood bleach or rust remover in a closet, but never got to it. Nobody really looks at the floor. Or at least that's what I told myself.

  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Feb 11, 2017

    Stencil a design with paint or stain. Varnish over it. Since it is in a foyer make a faux rug for the area.

  • Kathy Mai Kathy Mai on Mar 15, 2018

    you used a nail hitter make a hole where the black spot is then fill it

  • Ginny Ginny on Mar 21, 2018

    I had the same thing happen when wall to wall was removed. Thank goodness nail marks are only around the edge of the 12' x 23' room. Did not bother to do anything as the house was built in 1955, and you can't see the holes unless you closely inspect.