With the right polish and method, you can restore the shine of your wood flooring.
Consider the daily abuse your wood floors take: high heels, pet nails, children’s toys, and moving furniture, to mention a few. Even while wood floors are durable, their polish is vulnerable to scratches and scuffs. Refinishing—the process of completely sanding floors to create a new surface finish—is expensive and should be done only every few decades. However, polishing using a solution designed particularly for your floors is a simple and affordable method to restore shine, level out flaws, and extend the life of your beautiful hardwood. All you need is a flat-head mop with a microfiber cleaning pad and professional wood floor polish in low- or high-gloss sheens to get the job done.
The finish of your flooring, however, determines whether or not you should polish them. Polish will benefit floors with a protective surface, such as a waterproof barrier like urethane, while the wax is required for floors with penetrating finishes like tung oil or untreated wood. Using the incorrect product might result in a variety of issues, such as making the floors excessively slippery, dulling the sheen, and impeding appropriate refinishing in the future. So, before you plunge in and do harm, it’s critical to establish which type of floor you have (Step 1 in this article on how to polish wood floors).
This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
How To Polish Wood Floors
Make sure your floors are clean, so before you get to polishing, mop the hardwood floor.
Test The Finish
If you’re unsure about the finish on your floor, scrape a small amount off in an inconspicuous spot using a sharp knife blade.
- Your floor most likely has a penetrating finish if the finish is smeared but no clear material is scraped up. Stop here; these wood floors should only be waxed, not polished.
- Your flooring most likely has a surface finish if you notice a transparent substance. These wood floors are safe to polish. However, before tackling the entire floor, try the polish in a tiny concealed or inconspicuous area of the wood.
Empty the room by removing as much furniture as possible, then thoroughly clean the floor to eliminate dust and debris. Sweep or vacuum the floor, then mop with a professional wood floor cleaner or a solution of quarter-cup dish soap and a gallon of warm water to remove any remaining dirt. To eliminate any cleaning residue, make the last run over the floors with a clean, water-dampened mop. Using a soft, clean towel, thoroughly dry the dish.
Begin at the rear corner of the room by pouring a tiny S-shaped amount of wood floor polish over the floor and following a trail that will lead you to an exit.
Work the solution back and forth in the direction of the wood grain using a flat-surface mop, flattening out any air bubbles. To best manage the quantity of polish you’ve applied, work in tiny sections (approximately three to five feet broad in either direction).
While you must ensure that the floor is thoroughly covered, small layers will dry faster than thick ones, and you can always apply another coat if necessary.
Keep in mind that polish might stain drywall and baseboards, so avoid splattering it on these surfaces.
Avoid Restoring Right Away
Allow at least one hour for light traffic through the room and a full day before bringing your items back in and resume normal use. To minimize scratching, avoid dragging or sliding furniture; instead, pick up each item and set it where it belongs. For further protection, place felt furniture padding beneath heavy objects.
Keep It Clean
Now that your floors are in good condition, keep them that way by putting rugs at entry doors to prevent dirt from being tracked inside. If you have wood flooring in your kitchen, lay a rug near the sink to collect any stray drips of water.
Maintain a consistent cleaning schedule, such as vacuuming weekly and thorough cleaning the floors once a month. On wood floors, avoid using homemade cleaning solutions including diluted vinegar or ammonia; they will only dull a surface-finished floor. Instead, for a more natural option, try our homemade wood floor cleaner, which contains castile soap.
These precautions will go a long way toward preserving the lustre of your wood floor.
Reasons Wood Floors Look Dull
After you’ve determined the sort of finish on your hardwood floors, there are seven typical difficulties that might cause them to appear dull.
- You’re simply dispersing dirt: Using a soiled mop or failing to sweep, dust mop, or vacuum the floor prior to cleaning will merely redistribute the dirt. Consider all of that grit, dust, and debris becoming caught in the cleaning solution and just remaining on the floor’s surface.
- Your vacuum cleaner is causing more damage than good: Many acrylic-based liquid waxes that claim to help your wood floors shine may fact make them appear worse. When placed over polyurethane finishes or paste wax, the floor may seem spotty or milky. To eliminate the milky appearance of acrylic waxes, apply mineral spirits and elbow grease on a tiny area at a time. To fully restore the sheen, you’ll need to strip and reseal the flooring. Furthermore, strong chemicals like chlorine bleach, ammonia, undiluted vinegar, or pine oil can harm floor coatings. Read labels, use a commercial solution developed for sealed wood floors, and adhere to manufacturer instructions for usability.
- Using too much product: Even if you follow all of the steps perfectly, using too much cleaning product or water may make your floors seem worse. It is not always true that more is better.
- Leaving a task half-finished: To prevent staining, after damp mopping or waxing a hardwood floor, the task should be finished with a good polishing. Simply buff the finish with a dry microfiber mop to guarantee a gleaming floor.
- Scratches are out of hand: If you have dogs with sharp claws, fail to place clean doormats inside and outside entrance areas, or regularly wear shoes with firm heels in the house, you will have scratches. Scratches and scuffs result in dull flooring. Use some preventative measures to keep them to a minimal.
- Waxy buildup: If the floors were not sealed with a polyurethane finish and rely on a carnauba paste wax to generate shine, the wax can accumulate and seem dull. Even if you just use wax once or twice a year, it will eventually build up and become dull in low-traffic areas. Mineral spirits or similar commercial wax remover can be used to remove paste wax.
- The floor has to be refinished: If there is foot movement on the floor, no finish on hardwood floors will endure forever. Solid hardwood floors may be refinished and resealed on a regular basis. Even engineered hardwood with a thinner veneer may be refinished and resealed several times before needing to be replaced.