Floor Maintenance and Recoating

Maintain your wood floors the right way: save money and keep floors protected and beautiful.

The decision on when and if to recoat your floors is critical to saving you money in the long run.

Refinishes can be somewhat intrusive to home life and it would be nice to avoid them as long as possible. Also maintaining your floor correctly can help avoid more costly procedures in the long run.

How to clean your floors:

Vinegar really is the best way for urethane coated floors (most floors nowadays use polyurethane). For the weekly cleanup of your wood floor use a damp mop; it's best to moisten the mop with a homemade solution of 1/4 c vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Other methods and products will end up costing you more money and probably provide little benefit above the cheap and easy vinegar solution; worse yet many products can be damaging despite any claims.

Some liquids should be outright avoided around wood floors:

Waxes (like pledge), ammonia based cleaners (such as Windex), citric based cleaners such as Orange Glow. It is extremely common for wax products like Pledge to be inadvertently applied to wood floors (through overspray), and this is not a good thing. Avoid using Pledge or any similar product in your home if you have wood floors. If you must use it, treat it as though it were paint and apply plastic over any floor surface in the path of overspray. Wax will ruin the floors urethane coat, and thus ability to keep its shine and durability over time. It will also remove the option of simple a recoating your floor because urethane cannot bond to wax. And of course, never let any liquids (including water) settle or accumulate on the wood floor surface for significant periods of time.

Realistic Results of Recoating (from hardwoodfloorsmag.com)

Recoating a floor can help make a floor look better and add years of protection, but it won't usually make a floor look brand new. Here are some examples of floor wear and what to expect from a recoat:

Dents, such as these from furniture legs, will not be hidden by recoating.
Dents, such as these from furniture legs, will not be hidden by recoating.
Areas where the floor looks gray and/or the finish appears to be worn off entirely indicate a floor that has to be resanded.
Recoating areas where the finish has worn to the bare wood will have less predictable results. A recoat here might flake and peel, be bumpy and gritty. If in a prominant area, a recoat should probably not be attempted.
Spots such as this hair trapped in the finish will be visible after recoating unless they are hand-scraped out first; the minor scratches should disapper.
Spots such as this hair trapped in the finish will be visible after recoating unless they are hand-scraped out first; the minor scratches should disapper.
It's likely that these marks from a Sharpie marker have penetrated most of the finish and won't come out with a recoat.
If ink marks won't scrub out with alcohol they might have penetrated beyond the surface of the finish, and will remain after a recoat.
Moisture damage, such as these black lines at board edges from a leaking Christmas tree stand, will still be visible after recoating.
Moisture damage, such as these black lines at board edges from a leaking Christmas tree stand, will still be visible after recoating.
Mystery marks such as this green smudge are an unknown as to whether they will or won't come out.
Mystery marks such as this green smudge are an unknown as to whether they will or won't come out.