How to Keep Wood Floor Looking Beautiful

Wood floors and furniture are classy and timeless, but they do take some work to maintain. If you’ve only recently acquired a home with a lot of woodwork, you may be at a loss for …

Wood floors and furniture are classy and timeless, but they do take some work to maintain. If you’ve only recently acquired a home with a lot of woodwork, you may be at a loss for where to begin its upkeep. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to keep wooden furniture in shape. Here are a few tips for helping wood stay in its best condition.


wood floor
By Lars Lentz [CC-BY-SA-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Keep it Clean

The first thing you need to do to preserve your wood is to clean and dust it regularly. Dust particles can scratch the surface if you allow them to accumulate, which can wear down the finish over time.


Determine the Type of Finish

The type of care that’s best for your wood can vary a great deal depending on the type of finish it has. You can determine the type of finish with a few simple tests. First, you need to find out whether your wood has a hard or oil finish. To do so, boil linseed oil, and pour a few drops on the wood. If the oil beads, the finish is hard; if it’s absorbed, it’s oil.

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There are several different types of hard finishes — the most common are lacquer, polyurethane, shellac and varnish. To test the hard finish, place a small amount of acetone on the wood, and rub it gently. It the acetone dissolves about 45 second of rubbing, the finish is a lacquer; if it just sits there, it’s polyurethane.

In contrast, if the acetone turns into a gel, you have a shellac or varnish finish. To determine which one is which, take a rag soaked with denatured ethanol and rub it on the wood. If there’s an immediate reaction, you have shellac.


For Oil

To clean oil finishes, mix one cup boiled linseed oil with one cup of turpentine and one-third cup of white vinegar. Dip a cotton cloth in the mixture and apply to the wood. After a few minutes, wipe with a dry cloth. You should re-oil the wood once a year with boiled linseed or tung oil.

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For Polyurethane

Polyurethane finishes are pretty easy to maintain, so there’s no need for special cleaners just use a floor sweeper. When you’re cleaning wood with a polyurethane finish, you’re really cleaning the polyurethane, not the wood. Any waxes, oils or furniture polishes will cause a build-up, so clean with a simple mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar instead.


For Lacquer

Old lacquer finishes can chip or break, so take care when cleaning them. You should avoid wiping the wood with water unless the manufacturer has recommended it. Instead, use solvent-based furniture cleaner. You may want to follow with a wax or polish to keep the gloss.


For Shellac

You should also avoid cleaning shellac with water, as it can develop white water spots. If the finish already has water spots, rub the spot with alcohol. When shellac chips, just use a fine brush to add more of the finish. Rub the area to blend it in with the surrounding wood.

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For Bamboo

Bamboo is similar to wood flooring to make sure you don’t leave water on it too long. Use a microfiber dry mob to remove to dust and dirt on the floor. Next, spray the hardwood floor cleaner and wipe up using a slightly damp cloth or mop.

If you accidentally scratch or gash your bamboo flooring, you can refinish it by sanding down the floor till it is smooth then use a protective coating on top for an almost brand new floor.


For Varnish

To clean a varnish finishing, simply wipe it off with a dry cotton cloth. Avoid water, and use solvent-based furniture cleaner as needed. If the furniture has been neglected, it may be necessary to use turpentine to remove the finish, or steel wool to remove the grime.