Hardwood Floor Care FAQs

Hardwood Floor Care: Preventing Damage

How Do I Move Appliances Without Damaging My Floors?

Question:
I have hardwood floors in my kitchen. Delivery people will be moving out an old refrigerator and moving in a new one. How do I be sure my flooring is protected?

Answer:
When moving appliance or other heavy items across your hardwood floors, use blankets under pieces of plywood. The plywood protects the floor – the blanket beneath helps the plywood slide easily without leaving scratches or dents behind.

Another option is the inexpensive Slide-Eez Lift System and sliding padsSlide-Eez Lift System and sliding pads that many contractors use.


Hardwood Floor Finish For Dogs

Question:
My husband and I are searching for ideal hardwood flooring, tile and carpet to update our 1800sq ft house. We have two dogs who are well groomed but certainly love to rough house. My question for you is what type of hardwood floor would be best suitable for us. We also are going to be painting our walls warm colors this summer and we have beautiful oak trim all around the house. Do you have any hardwood floor color advice?

Answer:
Whatever type of wood floor you choose to install, we would suggest either prefinished wood floor with a 25-30 year warranty or a wood floor that you sand on-site and finish with Glitza-Maxx waterborne 2-part finish or Bona Traffic 2-part waterborne finish … for maximum abrasion resistance.

Regarding color, you can get samples from a wood floor contractor, distributor or retail outlet. Bring the samples home, lay them against your trim, furniture, cupboards, whatever it is you want to match or contrast with. Color is a personal decision depending on the overall look you are trying to accomplish, but samples really help.

Dogs can do as much damage to hardwood flooring as they can any other type of flooring. It’s a simple matter of prevention.

For more information:
Dogs and Hardwood Floors


Polyester Rug Pads For Hardwood Floors?

Question:
I was wondering if you can recommend any brand of rug pad that I can purchase. We have new floors and I am trying hard not to damage them. I found some pads at Cost Plus that are 100% polyester. Are these safe to use? Appreciate any advice. Thanks for the great info on your site.

Answer:
Yes, 100% polyester is safe to use, in my experience, on a polyurethane finished wood floor. Please review our area rug pad recommendations and material guidelines. Glad you enjoyed the site!


Protect Hardwood Floors From Bed Frames

Question:
I have recently had hardwood floors installed in my condo. I have a heavy king sized bed frame. What do you recommend for protecting the floor from the weight? Furniture leg pads? If so, what brand and store do you recommend? Thanks for your time.

Answer:
My bed frame is the kind on rollers and I use towels to protect the floor. A hand towel folded three or four times so it’s nice and thick works great. I use a small bungee cord to securely wrap the excess towel to the leg of the frame so if the bed moves or rolls, the towel padding stays in place under the rollers.

Sometimes, a little creativity and common household items are far better than a “specialized” product for purchase. Our recommended furniture pads may work as well.


Christmas Trees On Hardwood Floors

Question:
What’s the best way to protect my hardwood flooring when I set up my Christmas Tree?

Answer:
For artificial trees, place a barrier between your hardwood floor and the Christmas tree base – such as a double-folded sheet or an appropriate area rug pad that won’t damage your flooring.

If possible, I would also suggest attaching furniture pads to the bottom of the tree base.

For real trees, you should also provide a waterproof barrier. Plastic tablecloths or garbage bags cut to size work very well, again, over the top of a rug pad.

In both cases, you can cover the unsightly barrier of protection with a tree skirt or other decorative material.


How To Protect Old Hardwood Floors

Question:
We have recently discovered that under the horrible carpet we have throughout the main portion of the house are solid oak wood floors. They will need a sand and refinish ideally- though they are in pretty good shape. We can’t afford to do that for a while. What do you suggest in the meantime to protect the floors for now? Our house is about 50 years old, we have no idea how old the flooring is. Thank you for your time.

Answer:
Since you are planning to sand and refinish the floors anyway, just use them as you would any other flooring until then. You can certainly put down area rugs with rug pads appropriate for poly-coated floors. And then take the normal precautions to protect your hardwood floors such as avoiding water damage and never using wax or soap-based cleaners on them. After they are sanded and coated, they should pretty much look brand new again!


Don’t Want Pads On Legs Of Furniture

Question:
I just had new hardwood floors installed. The problem is, I put felt pads on the legs of the furniture but the furniture slides when we sit down. What do you suggest? Are rubber leg pads okay or will they leave black marks on the floor?

Answer:
White rubber is best but there is no guarantee they won’t damage your floor’s finish. You could also try custom-cutting and applying the appropriate rug pad material. Felt pads are the best though. They may be slippery when new but they will break in and be less slippery over time.


Hardwood Floor Care: Existing Stains or Damage

Black Shoe Marks On Hardwood Floors

Question:
My boys got a little wild in the living room after a basketball game and their shoes left black marks all over my hardwood floors. My regular cleaner won’t get them out. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Answer:
To clean tough stains such as black shoe marks, crayon, tar or lipstick use a non-abrasive waterless hand cleaner. You can also use a cautionary amount of paint thinner (Mineral SpiritsMineral Spirits) or a product such as Goof OffGoof Off - Hardwood Floor Care. Be sure to wear a mask when using products such as these to avoid toxic fumes. When you’re finished, wipe with a slightly damp cloth to remove any oil residue.


Floor Looks Streaky and has Smudges

Question:
HELP! I have Bellawood light maple floors. I have used everything to clean my floors, including the recommended Bellawood floor product. I have sought advice from everyone I know. My floor looks filmy, streaky and when the sun shines on the floor you see every smudge. I also have tried several kinds of mops and the Hoover cleaner for hardwood floors. It’s just getting worse. How can I get all this stuff off my floor and return it to a clean, non-smudged, streaky appearance?

Answer:
It sounds like your floors have been cleaned or otherwise exposed to an Oil-base soap such as Murphy’s Oil Soap. Oils, waxes and certain soaps should never be used on a hardwood floor finish. And when they are, even just once, it often leaves a filmy residue that includes smudges, smears, and even footprints, and it is very difficult to remove – even when you use the appropriate products after the fact.

Remember that you aren’t cleaning the wood boards themselves (unless the finish has worn and they are exposed and damaged). You are cleaning the finish, most likely polyurethane that coats the tops of the wood boards to protect them.

I suggest a good scrubbing, perhaps several times, with a vinegar and water solution. However, the acidity of the vinegar could remove the finish, exposing the wood boards to irreparable damage. The goal is to gently remove the build-up of wax or oils.

A word of caution: If there is indeed build-up on your floor, Do NOT have your floor recoated or refinished until that build-up is removed. The new finish will not adhere properly and you’ll have all kinds of trouble with it. If you can’t remove the build-up, the only solution is to have the floor sanded and then refinished with a fresh three coats of polyurethane.


Orange Peel Appearance on Hardwood Floor

Question:
I have wood floors that are less than 3 years old. My cleaning lady about 2 years ago put Holloway House Quick Shine all over my main floor and for some reason, it looks as if the “splats” have dried all over my floor. Giving it an “orange peel” appearance. I contacted Holloway House to ask for something to remove the product and they sent a Wax Remover. I attempted to remove the product and no matter what I try it still remains. My floors look horrible. I am wanting to fix this problem. I am unsure if the product dried causing this “orange peel” appearance or if my floor finish reacted to the product thus causing this appearance. I am wanting to do whatever necessary to fix this problem….and am a great do-it-yourself-er. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Do you suggest “screening” it and then putting a poly back over the top? Please advise.

Answer:
This does not sound good. Based on your description, I think your floor finish is ruined. It sure sounds like that cleaning product was not meant for the finish on your floor. Lots of retail products mislead consumers and promote use on wood floors – and maybe they work wonderfully on wood – but hardwood floors have that protective finish (i.e. polyurethane), and that’s what is being cleaned, not the wood.

It’s hard to know without looking at it, but I believe you’ll need to completely sand and refinish your floors, unfortunately. A buff or screen probably won’t do it. If I were you, I would contact your homeowner’s insurance – see what they say.

And/or you might contact the Holloway House or the cleaning lady to make a claim on their insurance. Somebody screwed up is my guess. The wax most likely only added to the damage, which seems to be permanent. You should never put wax on poly-coated wood floors. In the future, use a cleaner specifically for polyurethane, or whatever finish is on your floors.


Natural Tea Tree Oil Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Question:
I made the mistake of using Natural Tea Tree Oil for Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Now, I have that haze on my new floors, made even worse after walking on it. I have tried vinegar without any luck. I also purchased Bona’s Cleaner which doesn’t seem to have any effect. I have read that there are hardware store chemicals that can remove it. What do you suggest?

Answer:
We would suggest trying paint thinner, Mineral SpiritsNatural Tea Tree Oil Hardwood Floor Cleaner - Mineral Spirits or lacquer – make sure you wear a mask when using these chemicals as they produce toxic fumes.

Do a small area using a rag (an old plain t-shirt works great) to see if it works. Goof off would be another thing to try. All of these could take the shine away and eliminate the footprints, but they also might ruin the finish. So try a small area in a closet or something. The last resort, unfortunately, would be to have your floors professionally sanded and refinished.


Area Rug Pad Stain On Hardwood Floor

Question:
I have a stain on my hardwood floor from an area rug. Is there any way to repair or re-stain this area. The area affected is about 1 inch wide all the way around the outside edge of the rug. Thanks.

Answer:
Unfortunately, there is no magic fix for your rug stain. You could try using Goof Off Paint and Stain RemoverGoof Off Paint and Stain Remover, but typically, in a case like this, the entire floor needs to be sanded and refinished. And Goof Off may do more damage. You could just cover up the affected area so it isn’t seen.


Furniture Legs Damaged Hardwood Floor

Question:
Hi! Our kitchen table has left black rings, or “dots”, on our hardwood floor where the table legs touched the floor. In moving the table today I noticed the damage. Is there anything I can do to remove this? We are putting our home on the market so I need to fix this. The rest of the flooring is in great shape. If you have any suggestions that would be great! Thank you.

Answer:
First, put furniture padsFurniture Pads for Hardwood Floors on the bottom of those table legs to protect the floor going forward.

Second, this is difficult damage to repair, but you can cautiously try Goof Off or a similar product. See questions and answers above for more regarding this product. I suspect, however, that the reaction between the floor finish and the table legs might have caused permanent discoloration that cannot be corrected without sanding and recoating the entire area.

It is hard to know without looking at it. Is your floor polyurethane-finished? You might try contacting a manufacturer such as Dura Seal, Bona, or Basic Coatings to see if they can help.


Potted Plant Hardwood Floor Stain

Question:
I have a light colored wood flooring that has stains from a potted plant that overflowed water. It is, I believe, a mixture of water and dirt, that’s dried into my floors. How do I clean it? Thank you.

Answer:
If it doesn’t clean up with your normal wood floor cleaner, or a mixture of vinegar and water, then it sounds like a water stain and is probably permanent damage that unfortunately needs to be sanded and recoated. It is hard to know without looking at it, but there is no “special” cleaner for water damage.


Hardwood Floor Care: Cleaning

Can I Use Plain Water To Clean My Hardwood Floors?

Question:
My mother uses plain old water and a mop to clean her hardwood floors – adding a bit of vinegar to the water every couple of weeks for a more thorough clean. But I’ve been told never to use water on my wood floors. Can you clarify?

Answer:
An important reminder: You aren’t cleaning the wood boards themselves (unless they are damaged and exposed) … you are cleaning the finish, the polyurethane coating on top of the boards meant to protect them. But regardless of this protective coating, no matter how thick and durable it is supposed to be, there is no such thing as a waterproof wood floor.

Water and other liquids (such as a professional hardwood floor cleaner) can seep into the gaps between boards, especially as they shrink and expand due to moisture in the air, or because the coating is starting to wear or has been damaged. So it is very important not to use soaking wet cleaning tools or leave standing water on the floor.

In regards to cleaning, water isn’t the issue. It’s a liquid like anything else you might use. The issue is HOW you apply it to the floor, how wet the floor gets and if any water is left behind to impact damage.

For more information:
Cleaning Hardwood Floors with Water
How to Clean Hardwood Floors
Vinegar and Hardwood Floors


Hardwood Floor Care: General

To Stain Or Not To Stain Natural Hardwood Floors

Question:
I am having my wood floors refinished at the moment. I really like the color of the floors, naturally, now that they are sanded. But my flooring contractor insists that I need to stain the floors before they are finished. I want to just seal them and put urethane down. Is that okay?

Answer:
The simple answer is … there is no need to stain. You are the customer … it is your floor … and if you like the color of the natural wood, sealing it is the next step. Perhaps your contractor does not like the color for some reason or suspects that you will be unhappy with the results if you don’t stain them. I would ask for reasons why he insists on the stain to gage his reasoning. But bottom line: it is your preference.


Patch Does Not Match Existing Hardwood Flooring

Question:
We had a section of our hardwood floor replaced. Because it is newer than the existing wood, the color does not match. Have you or do you know of anybody who has used sunlamps on their floor to speed up the aging process for the replaced section to “catch up” to the rest of the discoloration from sunlight and wear of the existing flooring? Thank you for your help.

Answer:
We would not recommend a sunlamp. I think it would just burn the floor. In my over 35 years experience, there really isn’t anything you can do except let it age. Over time, the two floors will blend. In situations like this for my customers, I use stain to help match the new wood with the existing wood. Or reuse older wood for the patch. Sorry I couldn’t offer a solution.


Are Wood Floors Protected Under Carpet?

Question:
I live in a lease house. It is on pier blocks with wood floors with carpet on top. The carpet feels damp a lot of the time. I assume moisture is coming up from under the house. Is there a way to seal under the house or pull the carpet up and seal from the top? Looking for a solution. Thanks.

Answer:
I would recommend pulling up the carpet, and then sand and finish the wood floors with 3 coats of poly. As well, go under the house and plastic it if you can. But just sealing the floors from the top with a polyurethane coating would help immensely. It is really hard to know without seeing it. You might want to have a local wood floor contractor pay a visit.


Apply A Coat Of Finish Over Prefinished Flooring?

Question:
I am wanting to put down new 3/4 x 2″ Oak flooring that is already prefinished. The top layer of protectant is Aluminum Oxide coating for endurance. Once the floor was installed I wanted to apply an additional finish so as to cover up the cracks between boards to help prevent moisture causing damage. I was told that you can not apply a coating over Aluminum Oxide. Is this true? What should I use?

Answer:
All finishes just slip and slide right through the cracks – AND – it voids your warranty if you coat it. I advise you NOT to coat it.


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