How to Remove Scratches on Formica

A dark countertop made of Formica in a kitchen.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-50
What You'll Need
Soapy water
Paste wax or automotive wax
Buffing cloth
Liquid Formica filler
Putty knife
Steel wool
Spray wax (like Pledge)

Formica is a fairly inexpensive type of surface used for kitchen and bathroom counter tops. However, it is prone to scratching, and once damaged, it begins to look increasingly worn and tired. If you are not in the market for a new counter top or if your budget cannot support it, try to remove the scratches by following a few easy steps. The goal of the project is to restore the Formica surface, make it look as close to new again as possible, and have it shine brightly and confidently in your room space.

Step 1 - Clean and Clear the Formica Surface

Completely clear your counter tops of all items stored on the surface. This includes any dishes, liquid soap bottles, cloths, appliances, or soap dishes. Put the items up in a cupboard or in another room while you complete this project. Then, take out a gentle rag and fill a sink or your laundry tub with a warm soapy water. Wipe the surface of your countertop, scrub any caked on dirt, and get as much grime as you can out of the crevices of any scratches.

Step 2 - Rub Paste Wax and Buff

Purchase paste wax at a hardware store or home improvement center, or an automotive wax product from an automotive retailer. Take a small amount and rub it into the scratch on the Formica surface, working as much of it as you can into the mark. The wax should fill the scratch completely. Then, using a clean buffing cloth, buff the surface of the countertop, including the scratches you have just filled. At the very least, after you have completed this step, your small scratches will show a marked improvement in appearance.

Step 3 - Rub in Formica Filler

For larger scratches, rub a Formica filler over the surface of the damaged areas. The filler will help further seal the scratch and make it disappear. On extremely deep scratches, you will have to apply it using a putty knife. Allow the Formica filler about 24 hours to dry completely.

Step 4 - Buff Scratch with Steel Wool

When the filler has completely dried, begin to buff the scratches with steel wool. Gently take the steel wool and rub it onto the scratched surface in circular strokes. Avoid using a lot of pressure, otherwise you may create fresh scratches on your countertop that you then have to deal with.

Step 5 - Clean Surface with Spray Wax Polish

Buffing the scratch with steel wool will making the surface perfectly smooth, but you'll need to apply a spray wax polish like Pledge to clean the surface of any debris left behind. Wipe the polish away with a rag and inspect the final result of your effort. If you're not satisfied with the appearance of your countertop, repeat the previous steps until a good look has been achieved.

Step 6 - Fill Your Counter Tops

Take all of your countertop appliances, gadgets, and materials from wherever you stored them, and put everything back in its proper place.