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Hardwood Floor Maintenance

The first rule of preventative maintenance:  with the advanced stains and finishes utilized today, the beauty of your home flooring is assured with minimal care and cleaning.  If the finish is old or worn, refinishing is the first step.

Care:  Your floor’s finish is designed to protect and enhance the beauty of the wood.  While finishes today are very durable, they are not indestructible.    For example, even a brief exposure to high temperature objects could cause a scalding blemish.  While not necessary with most hardwood varieties, consider placing an attractive runner or area rug in high traffic rooms and halls.  Rugs can tie together loose elements within a room, and complement the color and texture of your floors.  

Cleaning: Dust and grit can act as sandpaper as you walk across the floor.  Regular cleaning is imperative in preserving the luster of the finish.  A soft bristle broom or fiber mob and professional floor maintenance products are essential.  The quality of cleaning and maintenance products will determine the effectiveness of your efforts.


The following are recommended by industry professionals to minimize maintenance and sustain the beauty of your wood floors.

  1. Wipe spills immediately
  2. Avoid wet-mopping. Standing water can dull and damage the wood and leave mineral residue.
  3. Self-polishing acrylic waxes (like Orange-Glo) cause wood to become slippery and buildup to create a dull appearance.
  4. If finish dulls, try buffing instead of over-waxing.  To avoid wax-build-up, wax high-traffic areas more frequently than areas under rugs and furniture.
  5. Use a humidifier in winter months to minimize shrinkage and movement.
  6. Avoid sports cleats and high heels.
  7. Lift furniture when moving, where possible.
  8. Use plastic or fabric-faced glides under the legs of furniture.


Hardwood Floor Care - General Do's and Don'ts (©2001-2009 Hardwood Manufacturers Association)

Here are some general do's and don'ts to help keep your hardwood floor looking like new:

Enemy Number 1: Water

Regardless of its finish your floor will quickly lose its luster if exposed to water. More serious damage is also possible, including warping and other problems.

DO: Wipe up any spills immediately with a soft, dry cloth, starting at the edges of the spill and working your way toward the center.

DO: Check with the manufacturer to find out if your steam cleaner is appropriate for use on your wood floor. Some models are designed for use on hardwood floors. Others are not. Remember that water is wood's No. 1 enemy. If the finish is worn or scratched, steam could seep into your wood floors, eventually causing damage.

DON'T: Let water stand on your floor, or use wet cloths for clean up.

DON'T: Mop sealed-and-waxed floors, not even with a slightly damp mop.

Banish Dirt, Dust and Grit

Dirt, dust and grit can also damage your hardwood floor. Tracking dirt, dust, and grit can dull its finish and cause scratches that can only be repaired by refinishing the floor.

DO: Sweep your floors regularly. Invest in a good broom that features exploded tips to trap dust and dirt, not simply spread it around. Dust mops can also be helpful in keeping dirt, dust, and grit under control.

DO: Vacuum frequently, using a canister vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments.

DON'T: Use an upright vacuum with beater bars. They can cause dents in your floor's finish.

DON'T: Use any dust treatment unless it is approved by your floor's manufacturer. The wrong treatment can make your floor dull and cause problems the next time you refinish.

DO: Use doormats at the entrances of your home to help trap dirt and grit. Clean them regularly.

Area Rugs

DO: Use area rugs or small sections of carpet placed inside doorways and in areas like kitchens where spills are likely to occur.

DON'T: Use throw rugs with rubber or vinyl backing without checking to determine if they will affect your floor's finish. Some materials in the backing can react with certain floor finishes, discoloring or causing the finish to become dull.

DON'T: Let even damp throw or scatter rugs sit on the floor. Check the rugs frequently and make sure damp rugs are removed.

DO: Move your area carpets or throw rugs occasionally to maintain a uniform appearance in the floor's finish.


The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight can cause discoloration over time.

The ultraviolet rays that can burn and age our skin will affect any organic material, including wood. That's why the finest art collections are kept in rooms without windows. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will change the color of virtually any wood floor, regardless of the stain or finish. Some woods lighten when exposed to sunlight. Others, like cherry and oak, tend to darken. The newest water-based urethane finishes seem to slow color changes more effectively than oil-based urethane finishes, which tend to turn the brownish-yellow color of amber. Some finishes feature sunscreens to help block the penetration of ultraviolet rays, extending the time it will take the wood to change.

DO: Protect your floors by using sheer drapes, curtains, or blinds to limit sunlight.


DO: Place glides made of felt or some other fabric under the legs of furniture to prevent scratches. Clean the glides regularly to ensure that dust and grit do not become imbedded.

DO: Use barrel-type casters instead of ball casters to prevent dents.

DO: Use non-marking rubber casters instead of plastic or metal.

DO: Lift furniture when moving it to avoid scratches in the floor's surface.


DO: Make sure there are no exposed nails or metal heel supports on shoes that could scratch or dent the floor.

DO: Check shoes with soles that have deep treads to ensure that any trapped dirt or gravel won't scratch or dent the floor.

DO: Be aware that high heels can dent a hardwood floor.

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