Here are some basic hardwood flooring maintenance tips for anyone that has new, old, or recently refinished hardwood floors.

  • Sweep and vacuum your hardwood floors regularly: Particles like grit, gravel, and salt are abrasive. Your weight on top of those particles turns you into sanding machine that will grind down the finish on your floor.

  • Do not clean the floor with furniture polish, vinegar, ammonia, pine cleaners, or Murphy’s Oil Soap: Those cleaners may dull or even damage the finish and will create problems when your floor needs recoating. We recommend Bona Professional Swedish Hardwood Cleaner for all polyurethane-finished floors and Rubio Natural or Satin soap for all Monocoat-finished floors. The Bona professional line is actually different and better than the Bona cleaner that is available through Ace and WalMart because it contains a degreaser.

  • Recoat your hardwood floors before you wear any spots through to bare wood: Wood floors don’t wear evenly. You will see wear first appear in small spots at exterior doors and in front of the fridge. Those little-worn spots of driftwood cannot be spot-fixed; once you’ve killed the finish in one area, you need to resand the entire space. Keep a vigilant eye on your trouble spots and recoat the floor BEFORE they wear through.

    There is not a finish on the market today that will last even 10 years unless you periodically refresh it. Recoat your floors when they first appear scratched and dull, but before they are worn through to bare wood. This can be as often as every year for kitchens that are not swept, or as infrequently as every 15 years in upstairs bedrooms. Recoating involves lightly etching the existing finish of a floor with a fine grit screen under a buffer or pole sander and then laying down a single layer of fresh finish.

  • Put floor protectors under all furniture that moves and replace regularly: Always buy pads with felt bottoms. The wider the pad, the better.

  • Never wet-mop or use steam cleaners on a wood floor: Those long-stick squeeze mops just don’t wring out the mop head thoroughly enough, and even small amounts of water can cause your floor to swell and cup over time. Now, for all you strong, old-fashioned types out there, getting on your hands and knees and washing the floor with a carefully squeezed-out conventional sponge is usually not a hazard to your floor, but we feel bad making your clean your floors that way.

  • Never wax a polyurethane floor: You’re looking at your polyurethaned hardwood floor and thinking that it looks dull and dingy and just needs to be polished up a bit. Don’t try it.

    Polyurethane is simply plastic and buffing it will just dull it further and laying down a layer of wax will prevent you top coating with more polyurethane, which is the correct way to restore sheen to your polyurethane floor.

  • Use rugs: Place mats at exterior doors to trap sand and grit that arrives with incoming traffic. Use area rugs in high traffic areas and spots where you pivot, like the base of stairwells. *Please keep rugs off the floor for 30 days after refinishing.

    Be careful about rug underlayments.

    Many people like to use a separate backing under their carpets to add cushion and keep them from slipping. But synthetic rubber and polyurethane rug backing can react with the plastic in polyurethane floors and discolor and degrade it; natural latex or rubber underlayments will not. But the problem is, manufacturers are not very good about listing the components in their rug underlayments

  • Beware plants and Christmas trees: Use stands under plants to allow air circulation; even a waterproof plant container placed directly on the floor can attract condensation and leave a water stain.

  • Love your pets: But please trim their toenails and wipe up their accidents.