How to Hand Scrape Wood Floors – 4 Easy Steps

How to Hand Scrape Wood Floors

Hardwood flooring is purposefully scraped to provide a warm, natural look to a room and this is more reason you must know how to hand scrape wood floors.

Before modern sanding methods, floors were hand scraped on-site to make the floors flat. Modern hand scraping is done to add texture, richness, and uniqueness.

There are two main methods used to give distressed floors this look:

  1. In an effort to reduce labor costs, manufacturers created machine-made scraped floors. Although it’s cheaper for the consumer, it’s easy to see a pattern repeating across the floor, which lacks a natural feel.
  2. Hand scraped wood floors are actually done by hand, giving the homeowner a truly unique floor. Even though this method can have a very natural look, it is extremely dependent on the skill of the person scraping the floor.

There are quite a number of different methods used when it comes to hand scraping a floor, including denting, scooping, sanding, or creating a reclaimed look with wormholes, splits, and other naturally occurring character markings.

Some product brands also allow the homeowner to choose between heavy, medium, and light scraping.

To be honest, machine-scraped floors are more cost-effective, this is one area where you get what you pay for.

Hand scraping and beveling are done by an artisan is a truly one-of-a-kind floor that will give your unique home beauty, which is why we think it’s worth the extra cost.

So do you wanna know how to hand scrape wood floors? Read on, it’s just a minute read.

Read: How to sand wood floor with orbital sander

How to Hand Scrape Wood Floors

Before You Start

Scrapers come in various shapes and sizes. Most are the same as those used to scrape paint; versions with a knob (center) make it easier to apply pressure.

When floors were first put in place, cabinet scrapers (left), which have two handles and a tiny hook edge, were the scraper of choice.

These are capable of very finely cutting over a variety of grain directional changes characteristic of parquet floors, producing a finer finish than sanding.

Things you Need

To hand scrape wood floors, you are going to need a couple of things;

  • Carbide-blade scrapers with handle
  • Extra blades
  • Random orbit sander
  • Varnish or drying oil (linseed, tung)
  • Lambswool applicator, brush, or roller
  • Wax
  • Knee protection or pads
  • Gloves

Step 1

Hand-scraping is perfect for older shellac and worn varnishes, while some modern finishes are best attacked with solvent paint removers first to help loosen the finish and facilitate the process.

Start by scraping the floor in line with the boards; never scrape across the grain.

Work in a swath about 16″ wide (three or four boards), and move from wall to wall across the room.

Then go back and scrape the next 16″ width, overlapping slightly on your previous work.

Step 2                                                                   

Continue doing this until the entire floor has been scraped clear of finish. As you go on, you should see little fluffy piles of wood scrapings and finish building up.

When the scraping seems to be getting more difficult, or the scraper is doing more sliding than scraping, it’s time for a blade change.

Stop scraping when the wood is bare, and continued scraping doesn’t change its appearance.

Step 3                                 

When you have completed the scraping, most of the hard work is done. You can then go over the floor with a small handheld random orbit sander to remove stubborn bits of finish or de-emphasize scratches.

You might also use a small sander attached to a HEPA vacuum to “even out” the entire floor. In this case, wear hearing protection and a particulate-filter mask to stay safe.

Step 4

Two common finishes are varnishes and drying oils; both are durable. Varnishes are usually applied with a lambswool applicator (as here, on a broom handle) or a brush or roller.

Wait 24 hours before applying the second finish coat, and apply on a nice day with windows open.

Read: Best Wax for Hardwood Floors

Drying oils are also applied in two coats with 24 hours of drying time in between, followed by a liquid or paste wax, which is renewed periodically (as the floor starts to dull underuse) to restore sheen and add a layer of protection.

Read: How to sand wood floor with palm sander


Scraping floors as a means of finishing them is a gentle technique with a long history. Also, it removes very little wood, scars from dragging furniture, aka patina, will be preserved.

So if you are looking for an easy method on how to hand scrape wood floors, look no further. The above-mentioned steps will get your floor hand scraped beautifully-well.

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