Avoid These Common Mistakes

Edited April 26, 2021

You have taken the plunge and now you are a homeowner. The contractors have left and your home is gleaming with shiny hardwood floors, new appliances and fresh landscape. Are you overwhelmed? Well you are not alone, most new homeowners feel the same way. Do not fret, I am here to share with you some useful tips for your hardwood floors. Your investment in solid hardwood floors can last a lifetime if cared for properly. More on that later.

The first step in proper floor care is to know if your wood floors have been finished with a coating of polyurethane or wax. Most commonly in new homes today you will find a polyurethane finish.

Wax or Polyurethane

To determine which finish type you have rub your finger across the floor and see if a smudge appears. Chances are if a smudge appears the floor has been treated with wax.

On the other hand, if you run your hand across the hardwood floor and it feels smooth then chances are the floors have been treated with a polyurethane. Polyurethanes provide a protective coating to the floors.

Cleaning My Waxed Hardwood Floors

As you probably already know, wax and water do not mix. With fine furniture you never place a glass on the surface without a coaster. Why not? Because then you get the dreaded white ring which is difficult to eliminate once present. The same is true with waxed wood floors, any standing water will wreak havoc with the finish. Simple clean waxed floors with a vacuum or dust mop.

Maintenance for Waxed Floors

Maintenance coatings are the key to keep waxed floors looking great.

When waxed wood floors have lost their luster it is time for the floors to be rejuvenated. This is typically done by a professional. First the hardwood floor is cleaned with steel wool. Then the floor is prepared by removing excess wax with a renovator and a buffing machine. Wax is then applied to the floor and buffed out with pads to create a low luster sheen.

Waxed floors on a weekly basis are cleaned as needed by just vacuuming and dry mopping.  If a spill happens, it should be cleaned up promptly.

Care for Polyurethane Treated Hardwood Floors

Wood floors that have been treated with polyurethane are easy to clean. The first step is to clear dirt and debris using a vacuum or broom. Wood floors can be cleaned using damp rag with a gentle detergent (not my preference). As you know, but bears repeating, standing water will damage your wood floors.  I have been in countless home with water damaged wood floors but more on that here.

There are countless cleaners on the market today that claim they are for hardwood floors. Byer beware, many of these products contain oils soap, wax solvents or silicone all of which will dull your finish.  There are some good products on the market but I have found the Bona Wood Floor Cleaner (Not Polish!) to work great on my hardwood floors. Just be cautious as Bona has many products on the market now. Be sure you by the correct product as the polish IS NOT compatible with polyurethane. Here are the Bona products recommended. Click Here to view a short video

The Bona Wood Floor Cleaning Kit comes with a mop, a microfiber cleaning pad and a spray bottle of  Wood Floor Cleaning Solution. To clean your floor it is as simple as spray and wipe with the mop. If you have tough spots you may need to use elbow grease or get down on your hands and knees to scrub the dirt or grime.

Check out my video below for my tutorial on cleaning your hardwood floors.

My Floors Have Lost Luster and Shine

With wear and tear hardwood floors can lose their shine and even have surface scratches. This is common in the high traffic areas like a foyer, kitchen or family room. Over time, what happens is the top protective layer of finish will wear down.  As the protective layer is worn the hardwood is more vulnerable to scratches, damage and  dulling.  Sometimes the floors just needs a buffing or screening followed by a coating of polyurethane. This surface treatment will add luster and life to floors and can help prolong the length of time between a full sanding or refinishing of your wood floors.  The key is to have your floors buffed and coated before they get deep scratches or too worn. Click here for more information on this process.

In some cases the hardwood floors need to a complete sanding and refinishing. This service is recommended for deep scratches and worn finish layer. The refinishing process involves using different grits of sand paper to remove any old finish, scratches and/or embedded dirt within the wood floor. A rotary screening completes the process to ensure a smooth surface. The floor is further prepared for finish to remove any dust with vacuuming, and tacked.

Protection Is The Key To Longevity

The best way to maintain the beauty and sparkle of your hardwood floors is a few simple steps.

1. Always put felt pads on your furniture legs to prevent scratches on the floors.

2. Never wet mop your floor. Standing water will damage wood floors.

3. Clean up dirt and debris daily.

4. Walk off mats at doorways will minimize foot traffic dirt being tracked into your home.

5. No high heel policy. High heels can damage your floors, more on that in another post.

6. Use Bona Wood Floor Cleaner or another approved hardwood floor cleaner on your polyurethane treated wood floors. Never use products that contain wax or silicone which can dull the finish on your floors and prevent the polyurethane from adhering with future coatings. Always read the product label but some to avoid are Murphy’s Oil soap, Endust, and Mop and Glow.

7. If in doubt contact your hardwood flooring specialist.