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Floor Maintenance

Learn how to keep your floor looking it's best for years to come.

Video Transcript

A properly maintained wood floor will last many years. Put an area rug where you’ll enter the room, to trap a lot of dirt. Periodically check underneath the rug for dirt accumulation and sweep it up. The trapped dirt will act like sandpaper on the floor. Use a push broom to move the dirt aside and sweep it up. Don’t use a vacuum, unless it has an attachment for cleaning wood floors.

Household cleaners are too harsh for a wood floor. They’ll attack the finish and leave a residue. Many manufacturers make wood floor cleaners that are safe for the finish. Add a little of the concentrate to a bucket of water, dip the mop in, and wring it out until it is basically dry. Too much water will turn the floor black. Mop the floor in one direction. If you go back and forth, the dirt won’t stick to the mop.

Another option is wood floor cleaning kits. They come with a microfiber mop and a no-wax spray cleaner. Again, use the mop in one direction. For stubborn stains, you may need to presoak the area with spray cleaner, then use a sponge on the spot.

Besides using an area rug to protect the floor, also use little felt pads on the legs and bottoms of the furniture in the room. The pads come in a variety of sizes, or you can buy a big pad and cut it to fit.

After five or ten years, you may have to apply another coat of polyurethane. A couple of things might cause problems. Furniture polishes and waxes used to clean furniture may fall on the floor as well, so the polyurethane finish won’t adhere. To prepare the floor for a finish, you can use the mechanical abrasive used in between coats of finish originally. Or, you can use a chemical method that doesn’t require sanding the floor. It’s a three-step system: a very aggressive wood floor cleaner, a commercial cleaner that takes off any residue, and a bonding agent that allows the polyurethane to adhere. This system is generally what manufacturers recommend; it’s very difficult to prep a prefinished wood floor. Sanding it with abrasive can make large scratches; other methods don’t allow the finish to stick.

Properly maintained, the floor will last the lifetime of the house.

Charles Peterson

Charles Peterson
Combining his graduate work in engineering and wood science with his passion for hardwood flooring, Charles Peterson has become a nationally recognized hardwood flooring specialist. He is also president of the International Parquetry Historical Society and of Wood Flooring Education, and is the founder of

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