Routine Maintenance for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring is not only beautiful, it is renowned for standing the test of time—in some cases 100 years or more. With proper care and a little preventative maintenance, hardwood floors can last a lifetime.

Your customers are making an investment in their homes that will continue to add value for many years with proper care. Routine maintenance for any type of hardwood flooring primarily involves protecting the floor’s finish from scratches and moisture. Specific maintenance guidelines vary by the type of wood, the grade, and the finish used.

  • For factory-finished wood floors, consumers should follow the directions of the flooring manufacturer about which cleaning products to use. This is extremely important because failure to follow those directions may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Floor protector pads should be installed on the bottom of all furniture legs before furniture is placed onto the wood floor.
  • For wax finishes, to remove white spots caused by water spills, use a fine steel wool, a soft cloth or synthetic pad and a small amount of mineral spirits. Then rewax the area and rebuff. Use only a professional carnauba-based wax designed for wood floors.
  • Place protective rugs at entrances with non-skid pads underneath. They help trap grit and absorb moisture before either one has a chance to damage the finish.
  • Avoid walking on hardwood with sharply pointed high heels or shoes with damaged soles—both can cause dents and scratches.
  • Be aware that changes in humidity can cause expansion and leave small gaps between boards. To minimize changes, humidity control in the home is recommended.
  • Routine basic maintenance includes regularly sweeping, vacuuming and/or dust-mopping (Use only vacuums that have a hard- surface setting).
  • Always use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products, as most warranties from finish manufacturers and factory-finished wood flooring manufacturers are voided by the use of oil soap cleaners.
  • Avoid using steam cleaners on any hardwood flooring.
  • If a floor loses its luster, it may be time to recoat.

Ongoing Maintenance

  • Create a recoating and resanding schedule for your customers and use emails, newsletters, or mailed reminders before floors are due for this important ongoing maintenance.
  • Before recoating, inspect the floor for wear to determine what steps will be necessary. If the finish is worn to the point that the color of the wood is not uniform or that bare wood is exposed, complete resanding and finishing are necessary. If the wear is not that severe, the floor can be mechanically abraded and recoated, or a chemical recoating system may be used.
  • If wax, shellac or varnish are not present on the floor, most likely the finish can be coated over with a regular surface finish.
  • Before recoating, the floor should be cleaned with a non-residue cleaner designed specifically for hardwood floors.
  • Pre-finished wood floors can be recoated, usually with the same procedures that are used for site-finished flooring. Recoating is recommended to restore the finish when it shows wear but is not totally worn through. Sanding and refinishing is necessary only when there is severe damage, such as finish completely worn through in a large area. Make sure customers are aware that recoating a factory-finished floor may void the floor’s warranty.