8 Tips for Making Your Wood Floors Look Brand New Again

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated April 27, 2022
chic living room with wood floors
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Give your hardwood flooring a major facelift

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Hardwood flooring is a big plus to any home, as wood is durable and, in a perfect world, lasts for generations. However, thanks to all the wear and tear we put them through, there are many ways for hardwood flooring to dull, scratch, scuff, and otherwise become damaged over time.

Here are eight tips to keep those hardwood floors looking as fresh as the day you installed them.

1. Keep It Clean

woman cleaning wood floors with microfiber wet mop
Photo: Antonio_Diaz / iStock / Getty Images

Keeping your hardwood floor clean, like really clean, helps bring back some of that original shine and sparkle. Here are some of the best ways to clean hardwood floors to get you started. 

  • Sweep regularly, as you would with any flooring. This step is especially important with hardwood, as specks of debris eventually scratch or scuff the wood. 

  • Mop with care. Don’t use a regular mop and water. Protect your hardwood flooring by using a microfiber mop or, even better, a steam mop specifically designed for wood. Avoid spilling large amounts of water on the wood, opting for dampness instead.  

  • Avoid harsh detergents, vinegar cleaning solutions, and any other abrasive products. Clean hardwood flooring with steam, a small amount of water, or a cleaning agent purpose-made for hardwood. Mild, ph-neutral soaps also work. 

  • Remove hardened mounds of dirt with warm water and a putty knife. 

  • Most importantly, be gentle.

2. Avoid Accidental Damage 

The best offense is occasionally defense. Avoiding accidental damage is a sure-fire way to keep your hardwood looking its very best. Here are some ways to do just that. 

  • Pay attention to your furry friends. Copious amounts of pet hair and, of course, sharp claws cause damage to your valuable hardwood. Regularly vacuum up dander and fur and clip your furry friends’ nails regularly. 

  • Place protective rugs and mats throughout the hardwood, particularly underneath heavy furniture items. This precaution helps prevent scuffs and scratches. 

  • Place felt pads under heavy furniture items and trays under potted plants. When moving furniture on the hardwood, always use a dedicated furniture slider. 

  • Make visitors leave their shoes at the door. Nothing damages hardwood like the tip of a high heel. 

  • Remember, you can’t predict everything. Accidents will happen, but that’s where the rest of these tips come in. 

3. Polish and Buff the Wood

man cleaning hardwood floor with microfiber cloth
Photo: cyano66 / iStock / Getty Images

Like any good manicure, regular buffing and polishing will keep your hardwood floor shiny and healthy.

  • For polishing, start in the corner of the room and pour an S-shaped amount of floor polish right onto the wood floor. Use a flat-surface mop and go back and forth along the wood grain. Work on small patches at a time until finished. 

  • For buffing, start by hand and only consider an electric buffing machine for large and significantly worn pieces of wood. Start by rubbing brass wool over any damaged areas until the scratch or ding levels out. Next, polish the area using the above method. Finish with a buffing pad to make the floor nice and shiny. 

4. Remove Dried Paint 

A fresh coat of lilac paint may help pull together a room, but this process is risky for hardwood, thanks to the myriad of paint dots making their way down to the floor. Remove this dried paint by following this simple procedure. 

  • Gather a vacuum with a detail brush, a sturdy scraper, and a scratch cover solution.

  • Start by vacuuming up any dirt and dust from the impacted area. 

  • Use the scraper and apply moderate pressure to the floor as you approach the walls. Go slowly and gently to scrape away paint flecks. 

  • Use the vacuum’s detail brush to apply gentle pressure to remove any loosened flecks. 

  • Repeat these steps and go around the entire wall to remove all of the dried paint. 

  • Once finished, apply the scratch cover formula to any worn areas on the bottom of the wall near the edge of the hardwood planks. 

5. Use a Rejuvenating Product

Try a simple hardwood rejuvenator before opting for a full hardwood refinishing. These mixtures are sometimes called revitalizers or wood restorers and are available at hardware stores. 

  • These products react favorably to hardwood sealed with polyurethane. This is the case with most, but test the solution in an out-of-the-way corner of your hardwood floor just in case. 

  • Move furniture and anything else of the way before starting the application process.

  • Use a mop to spread the revitalizer on the hardwood floor. Don’t use too much, and when in doubt, consult the instructions. 

  • Wait an hour for the solution to dry before moving furniture back into place.

6. Refinish the Floor

worker using roller to lacquer wood floors
Photo: jovkovski1969 / Adobe Stock

Refinishing your hardwood floor is a multi-pronged process involving sanding, staining, and applying multiple coats of sealant (typically polyurethane.) This is an extremely time-intensive project for amateurs, so consider consulting with a local hardwood refinishing company to discuss your individual needs. Not all hardwood refinishing projects demand sanding, for instance, as wood boards only survive six to eight sandings in a lifetime, depending on thickness. 

Pros charge $1,000 to $2,500 for the cost to refinish an entire hardwood floor, and this investment can help keep it looking great for years to come. 

Avoid refinishing during the colder months, as wood contracts during the winter and expands during spring and summer. Also, take your time choosing a stain and finish. Dark stains, for instance, struggle with hiding dirt.

7. Repair Chips, Dents, and Deep Scratches 

Not even refinishing magically removes chips and deeper-than-average scratches. For these issues, you’ll need to try some more intensive procedures. 

  • Wood filler and wood putty are great products for filling in deep scratches and obvious chips. Purchase a product that matches your wood color and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

  • For dents, use a simple clothing iron. Place a drop or two of water on the dent, heat the iron to a moderate setting, and press gently on the water, allowing the steam to flatten the dent. 

8. Put in New Flooring 

In rare cases, damage to hardwood is not salvageable. In those instances, hire a local flooring pro and have them install brand new hardwood wherever necessary. You may need a complete overhaul throughout your home or just a plank or two. They’ll assess the damage and let you know the proper course of action.

New hardwood flooring costs $6 to $12 per square foot, on average, though this price fluctuates according to wood type, design options, size, material availability, and more.

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