What to Do About Dull Hardwood Floors

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Shiny hardwood flooring can enhance any living space. Over time, however, wood flooring can become dull and lifeless. Maintaining shiny flooring requires regular sweeping and cleaning to remove dust, dirt and other debris that can scratch and dull the floor's surface. In extreme cases, stripping and sanding hardwood flooring may be necessary to remove old wax or polyurethane coatings.

Cleaning Techniques

Maintaining shiny hardwood floors requires weekly cleaning using a spray cleaner and soft cloth mop. Sweeping the floor before using a floor cleaner prevents dirt and debris from scratching the surface while mopping. For best results, clean a small area at a time. Always mop in the direction of the wood slats to enhance shine and prevent streaking. After cleaning, inspect the area to ensure cleaner is not trapped between the wood grooves. Do not use a rag mop when cleaning hardwood flooring. Rag mops can create puddles, which may warp flooring over time. Rag mops also prevent the floor from drying evenly, which can cause streaking and dullness after drying.

Wax Finishes

Hardwood flooring with a wax coating may require buffing after cleaning to restore shine. Buff floors using dry terry cloth. Use a wax-based cleaner when cleaning floors to prevent the coating from peeling or cracking. Most floor manufacturers have created cleaning products specifically for their flooring products. If unsure about the manufacturer of your hardwood floor, visit a hardware, home improvement or grocery store to find wax-based cleaners that are safe to use. If the floor is still dull, consider rewaxing to enhance shine.

Polyurethane Finishes

Polyurethane finishes are commonly found on newer hardwood flooring. These finishes help protect wood from scratches and usually do not dull as easily as wax-coated flooring if cared for properly. Do not use a wax-based cleaning product on a hardwood floor with a polyurethane finish because it may cause the floor to appear dull and hazy. Use cleaners suggested by the manufacturer or a cleaner specifically designated for polyurethane coatings. If the flooring still appears dull after cleaning, consider stripping or sanding the floor. Do not strip or sand the floor yourself, though. Instead, contact a floor care specialist.

Regular Maintenance

To maintain a shiny hardwood floor between cleanings, sweep your floor daily, which prevents dirt and dust from scratching the surface. Take your shoes off before walking on hardwood surfaces because chemicals and debris trapped on the bottom of your shoes can cause dulling or scratching. Using area rugs where possible reduces the impact of furniture and footsteps. Buffing or polishing floors once or twice a year with a buffing or polishing machine may be necessary, especially in high-traffic areas, to enhance the shine and beauty of your floor.

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