How to Fix Paint Scratches on a Wall

How to Fix Paint Scratches on a Wall

Homeowners often face a dilemma. They have struggled to keep the walls of their home fresh and free of scratches only to have a chair or animal mar them.

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How do you fix paint scratches on a wall? You can fix paint scratches on a wall by utilizing a few methods, including:

  • Using Spackling compound and paint
  • Filling with Toothpaste
  • Soap & Water
  • Wall Coverings

This article will examine each method and the tools to use to fix paint scratches on walls plus some extremely helpful hints.

First, Decide If It Is a Scratch or a Scuff

Before deciding which method to use to touch up a wall, it is vital to determine if it is a scratch or scuff mark.

Scratches on a wall usually involve some removal of paint and may have already become a hole in the drywall.

A scuff is a mark left on the wall by a chair, a child playing, a pet, or by ordinary wear and tear.

To tell if a mar on a wall a scuff or scratch run your hand over it. If it feels like paint is missing, then it is a scratch, if it feels smooth, it is a scuff.

Fixing a Scratch on a Wall

Fixing a scratch on a wall will take anywhere from just a few minutes to a long time depending on how deep the scratch is in the drywall.

First, determine how deep the scratch is as this will decide which compound to use to fix it. If it is a deep gouge in the drywall, then using spackling to fill the hole is required. However, if the hole is a surface scratch, then an alternative method is proper to use.

Using Spackling and Paint to Fix a Deep Scratch on a Wall

When a scratch on the wall has advanced to become a large gouge, it is time to dig out the spackling compound and go to work.

The materials and tools you will need include:

  • A sanding sponge
  • A putty knife
  • Lightweight Spackling paste
  • Primer
  • Paint

The method of repair is fairly simple. The first step is to clean the area and then level it with the putty knife.

Next, apply a small amount of the spackling compound to cover the scratch with a putty knife and a small area around the scratch.

Let dry. Repeat if necessary. Apply primer and paint to match the wall once the paste is dry.

Fixing a Shallow Scratch on a Wall

If the scratch on the wall is tiny, then toothpaste is the right compound to fix it.

To use this method of fixing a small wall scratch, you will need:

  • A dry sponge
  • White toothpaste (generic is fine)
  • A Toothpick or cotton swab
  • A Flat edge table knife or putty knife

As usual, make certain the area is scraped clean of debris and dust.

Next, squeeze some white toothpaste onto a toothpick if the hole is tiny or a cotton swab if it is a slightly larger scratch. Push the toothpaste into the scratch spreading a small amount of extra toothpaste around the hole to not leave gaps on the wall.

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Next, using a flat-edged table knife or a putty knife, smooth the toothpaste flush with the wall. Finally, allow the toothpaste dry then paint on primer and paint to match the wall.

Fixing a Bump Left on a Wall

Homeowners often face children or pets, leaving bumps caused by liquids causing the paint to bubble up. However, there is a method to fix this as well.

First assemble your materials, including:

  • Joint compound
  • Self-adhesive Fiberglass mesh tape
  • A wide putty knife
  • A sanding sponge
  • A utility knife with a sharp blade
  • A clean rag
  • Drywall compound
  • Primer
  • Paint

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Second, scrape the area with the utility knife to clean up the surface of the bump to level it and clean off any debris. Next, apply at least two pieces of self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape covering the drywall bump and two inches of the surrounding area by making an “X” with the tape.

Make sure the tape is long enough to cover the bubble completely before applying. Then, using the putty knife, carefully add the drywall compound making sure to fill the mesh by feathering it into it. Use the dry rag to remove any spillage over the affected area.

Next, use the sanding sponge to sand away extra drywall compound until the area blends in with the surrounding wall. Make sure the wall is completely free of dust or debris then use primer and paint to finish the task of removing a bump on drywall.

The Different Types of Spackling Compound

Spackle compound comes in a pre-mixed paste or in powder form that is mixed with water. The different compounds are best for covering different areas with the former doing well on small holes and the latter doing well-filling holes sized 3/4 of an inch or wider.

Pre-mixed spackle compound is sold in both lightweight and all-purpose varieties depending on the size of scratch that is repaired. For small scratches, pre-mixed spackle paste will do the trick because it contains a bonding agent. This choice is best used on areas that are at low- risk of receiving future damage.

The all-purpose spackling compound includes both vinyl and acrylic to add elasticity to minimize shrinkage. For large scratches and holes, the powdered spackling compound is best because it can be mixed to the consistency needed to fill the scratch.

Five Methods to Clean Scuffs from Walls

Scratches are not the only accidents that can happen to a wall. Scuffs can make a new wall look old and dirty. Luckily, there are tools and methods to remove scuffs correctly without marring the paint beneath.

There are four methods to safely remove scuff marks from a wall including:

  • Soap and water
  • Baking soda
  • Melamine foam
  • Vinegar

Using Soap and Water to Remove a Scuff Mark

It may seem like an easy decision to use soap and water to remove a scuff on a wall, but some types of soaps that are likely to come to mind can harm the paint on the wall further.

It is unwise to attempt using any other type of soap other than dish soap that contains a degreaser to remove scuffs as it will not remove paint.

First, assemble the tools:

  • Dishwashing liquid containing a degreaser
  • Two bucket
  • Three dry and clean clothes
  • Warm water
  • Stain Remover (if needed)
  • Paper towels

Next, lay paper towels along the base of the wall to protect the floor, then fill one bucket with water and dish soap and the other with clear water.

Using one of the clothes full of the dishwashing liquid solution, gently clean going in light circular motions to remove the scuff. Be cautious about how much moisture you apply to the wall so the drywall will not bubble or form watermarks.

The wall should be rinsed with the second rag, but not too much water. The third dry cloth should be used to dry the surface.

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Using Baking Soda to Remove a Scuff Mark

Baking soda has many uses, and cleaning scuffs from walls is one of them. Here are the instructions for using baking soda on those pesky scuffs:

First, you will need to assemble your equipment:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • A bucket
  • A dust brush or vacuum cleaner
  • Two sponges
  • Degreaser

First, use a cup of baking soda in an ounce of the water solution and test an area of the wall that isn’t easily visible. If the paint still appears bright and there are no watermarks after it dries, then it is safe to use the solution on the wall.

If, however, the paint doesn’t appear bright or there are watermarks, it is time to repaint the wall or have it professionally cleaned. Next, using a vacuum cleaner or a dust brush, clean the area well removing any loose drywall or paint.

Using one of the sponges, gently clean using the baking soda solution and a second sponge dampened with water to clear away the scuff mark. Remember to dry the wall thoroughly to prevent furthering the damage to the wall.

If the scuff proves harder to remove than previously thought, try adding a small amount of degreaser to the mix and cleanse once more until the scuff mark disappears.

Cleaning a Wall Using Melamine Foam

One of the easiest methods for cleaning scuffs on the walls of a home is to use a melamine sponge. The most recognizable form of melamine sponges available today is Magic Sponges that are manufactured by Mr. Clean

The Magic Eraser manufacturer recommends their product not be used on high gloss painted, polished or dark walls without first testing in a small inconspicuous area first. Also, they recommend that a good rinse be given to the wall after using their melamine sponge.

The method for using a Magic Eraser to cleanse your wall is as follows:

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First, wet the sponge and squeeze out any excess water. It is vital to know that it is recommended not to use detergents or other cleaning ingredients when using a melamine sponge.

Next, firmly glide the sponge over the scuff to remove it. Once finished, rinse thoroughly being careful not to get the drywall too wet. Melamine sponges should always be kept out of reach of children and pets as ingesting them is not recommended and using a melamine sponge on the skin will leave serious abrasions.

Using Vinegar to Remove Scuff Marks

Vinegar is mildly acidic and works well when cleaning many surfaces and using this old-fashioned and effective method for cleaning scuffs from walls is no exception. The tools you will need include:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking soda (if needed)
  • A drop cloth
  • A bucket
  • Two sponges

First, lay down a drop cloth on the floor to protect it from the mildly corrosive properties of vinegar. If the room is not well ventilated, open windows. Vinegar has a strong and sometimes overwhelming scent. Using a fan or two is also recommended.

Third, mix together in a bucket 2 to 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar with a gallon of water. You can increase the amount of vinegar later if it is needed for an extraordinarily tough to remove scuff.

Next, after evaluating the vinegar mixture on a small hard to see a portion of the wall, wet a sponge and squeeze out any extra mixture then wipe the scuff gently in circular motions repeating until the scuff has gone.

Then, using a bucket of clean water, rinse the wall of any remaining vinegar solution with a second clean sponge. Finally, pat the area dry with a dry cloth or towel. If needed, not only can a little vinegar can be added to help, but also a small amount of baking soda will aid in the cleaning of dirty walls.

Tip: It is recommended highly that only a small area at a time be cleansed with vinegar solution and that area receives rinsing immediately after application.

Four Methods to Keep Your Walls from Getting Scratched

The best step for homeowners to keep walls looking fresh and new plus free of scratches to prevent from occurring in the first place. There are five different methods to help perform this feat.

  • Wallcoverings
  • Adhesive hooks
  • Doorstops
  • Surface guards or molding
  • Chair Slipcovers
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Wall Coverings

One method for ending scratches on the walls is to use a wall covering such as a decorative rug. There is a myriad of different wall covering themes to choose from to match the décor of the room or home.

Using Adhesive Hooks

A second method is to use adhesive hooks instead of nails or tacks to hang pictures. Shop around to find the brands that apply and come off clean without tearing off paint. Make sure to get the right size for the item being hung, or it will fall off the wall causing abrasion to the surface of the wall.


Doorknobs banging into a wall produces large dings and scrapes to the surface of the wall. To end doorknobs causing damage, add a doorstop to the base of the offending door. There are many options for doorstops, so homeowners can pick the one that suits their taste.

Doorknobs banging against the wall will not just create an annoying noise but produce a hideous sight in your walls as well. To keep this from happening, you can place a doorstop at the base of the door. This fixture comes in varying sizes, designs, and colors ranging from the simple and functional to the whimsical. So not only will this keep your door from slamming since you can also show some personality with your choice of a doorstop.

Adding Surface Guards or Molding

To prevent chairs from accidentally scraping a wall, install a surface guard or molding. Adding a baseboard molding and chair rail both protect the wall from scrapes and scuffs, but they are also adding to the beauty of a home.

Chair rails should be installed at 1/3rd the height of the wall for a superior design. For a superior design, you should purchase moldings and protective surface covers that match the color scheme and design of the room.

Chair Slipcovers

Adding slipcovers to offending chairs is a cheap and easy solution to them scuffing and scratching walls. The cloth allows for a buffer between the chair and the wall when the chair hits the wall. With the slipcover, if and when a chair hits the wall it will not leave a lasting mark or scratch.

Some Tips for Successfully Fixing Paint Scratches on a Wall

Here are a few tips to help homeowners be more successful at repairing pesky scratches on their walls.

First, before attempting a repair, make sure the area is clean. Cleansing the area with a mild cleanser such as dish soap diluted in water will help the repair adhere better.

Simply spray on the diluted dish soap onto the area to be repaired and lightly rub in circular motions with a clean rag or sponge. Rinse the area with clean water and another rag/sponge.

Second, when applying new paint to a room, save some of the paint back sealed tightly in its container for future touch-ups. This way, the inevitable future scratch or scuff can be removed, and the same color paint applied to match the original color.

If no paint was saved back, scrape some of the paint from the scratched area before repairing and take it to a paint store for matching.

Sometimes cleaning a wall after a repair or the fix itself leaves obvious clues that it was there such as a shiny surface that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the wall. If the scratch cannot be successfully repaired without standing out, then it is time to repaint the entire wall.

Summing it Up

Scratches and dings will happen in any home, and homeowners need to be prepared to make repairs as they occur. By keeping and applying a bit of the paint, the wall was originally painted, and following a method of repairing the scratch, the wall will appear good as new.

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