8 Wood Floor Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Investment

These easy maintenance tips will keep your wood floors looking like new for years to come.

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Vacuum cleaning hardwood floor in living room

Vacuum your wood floor every week

You probably do this already, but it bears repeating. The reason? Underfoot, the fine grit in dust is just like sandpaper and it will slowly but surely wear through your wood floor’s finish. One of the best ways to clean hardwood floors is to give it a good vacuuming, which protects the finish as well as keeps up its appearance. Use an attachment with a brush or a felt surface that runs along the floor. Attachments with rotating brushes or a beater bar can scratch the finish. Disengage the beater bar on an upright. If you don’t feel like hauling out the vacuum, a dust mop or one of the newer microfibre sweepers (such as Swiffer) will work just as well.

Find out more places you should be vacuuming—but aren’t.

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Wooden floors cleaning with rag in the room. Regular clean up. Maid cleans house.

Watch the hairspray and the furniture polish

Both of them can cloud your floor’s finish. Wipe them up immediately with a damp cloth. For a more thorough cleanup, spray with non-ammonia window cleaner.

Learn how to make your own DIY cleaning products.

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water drop on a wooden background

Keep out the rain

Water doesn’t only ruin the finish on a hardwood floor but also can penetrate deep into the wood and stain it. Close windows when you’re expecting rain. Put trays under potted plants and, of course, immediately wipe up any water you see.

Got to the water too late? Find out how to remove water stains from wood.

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Top view of dust and hair clot on parquet floor. Housework concept
Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock

Remove residue with no-wax wood floor cleaner

Keep a no-wax wood floor cleaner in the hall closet or another convenient location so that you can quickly clean up small problems before they become big ones. Wipe up spills and dirt immediately; then use the wood floor cleaner to remove the residue. Dirt can damage the finish or get ground-in. Liquids can damage the finish or stain the floor.

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Protective lacquer coating wood surfaces, Paint tin on waxed floor, wooden background - square format
Sanit Fuangnakhon/Shutterstock

Know the rules about using waxes and restorers

You can rejuvenate a wax finish with more wax, but make sure you never use wax on a surface finish such as shellac, varnish, or polyurethane. It not only makes the floor far too slippery, but it also interferes with subsequent finishes. If the finish is polyurethane, use a polish made for polyurethane. If it’s another type of surface finish, get a general-purpose floor restorer; test the restorer on an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t peel off.

Find out more mistakes to avoid during a home remodel.

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Door mat near stone stairs indoors, top view. Space for design
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Use an extra-long “walk-off ” doormat

Ideally, people should always remove their shoes when they come inside. This way, dirt, water, salt and ice won’t be trekked onto the wood floors. But, since shoes don’t always get removed, doormats—inside and out—earn their keep and then some. Get a 4- to 6-foot-long “walk-off ” mat for the front door. The longer the mat leading up to the door, the more people will rub dirt and moisture off their shoes as they walk in, even if they don’t stop to wipe them.

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A close up shot of a throw rug
Kitch Bain/Shutterstock

Protect high-traffic zones with area rugs

Walking across an area several times a day eventually wears down a wood floor’s finish. Nice-looking throw rugs are the easiest way to reduce the wear. But make sure they don’t have a backing. Vinyl or rubber backing traps humidity, which can ruin your floor’s finish and stain or damage the wood.

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Invest in furniture pads
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Invest in furniture pads

Even if you don’t rearrange your furniture a lot, constant shifting will cause the legs of your furniture to scratch the wood floor. Put furniture pads on all the legs of your furniture to keep your wood floors looking new. Also, adding pads makes moving your furniture much easier.

Next, find out how to clean vinyl floors.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest