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How To Clean, Finish, and Protect Hardwood Flooring

Today’s guest post is from Justin Morgan of Palmetto Floors.  Justin is a 12-year veteran in the flooring and flooring cleaner industries, particularly in the field of hardwood floor finishing and maintenance.  Who better than Justin to talk about ways that you can make your hardwood flooring the best looking and longest lasting floor you’ve ever had?  Take it away, Justin!


No matter what you’re walking on, when it comes to flooring and floor care, one product doesn’t fit all. Each type of floor covering needs special care to keep it looking great day in and day out. Preventative maintenance is key to keeping your investment looking just like it did the day it was installed. These days, the more you can stretch a dollar, the better off you are and it doesn’t take much to keep your floors in good shape.

You must understand the difference in floor coverings and the right products and techniques of cleaning your floors to maintain their beauty.

Let’s face it, no one likes to clean, especially the floor and with so many cleaners on the market it is hard to decide what to use and how.

In this post, we will examine hardwood flooring and the proper way to clean them.

Hardwood floors in my opinion are the best overall option when it comes to choosing flooring for your home. Not only will they add rich, warm, beauty, but will increase the value of your home substantially.

There are several different types of floor finishes that are used these days in both the manufacturing process and on-site finishing process. The main thing to remember is that you are actually cleaning the floor finish, not the wood, so you must understand the type of finish that your floor has. The easiest way to do this is to consult the installer, manufacturer of your floor, or previous home owner if applicable.

There are basically 6 types of hardwood floor finishes:

1.) Oil-modified urethane 2.) Moisture-cure urethane 3.) Swedish finish/acid-cure urethane 4.) Water based urethane (Waterborne) 5.) Aluminum Oxide 6.) Penetrating Stain/Wax

That may all be a little confusing, so to sum it up, you can perform a simple test prior to cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floor: choose a small, inconspicuous area of the floor, and put a drop of water on it. Allow the water to evaporate completely. If a small white circle appears, the floor is probably waxed or oiled in which case you would definitely want to contact your flooring manufacturer to determine the proper cleaning method. If the white spot does not appear, then keep reading as you have a polyurethane type floor finish…

Everyone knows the simple, easy, trick of Vinegar/Water to clean hardwood floors. Surprisingly even professionals suggest this as a cleaning method. No disrespect, although it will clean your floors effectively, over time it will cause microscopic scratches which will dull your floor, plus who likes that smell?

The best thing to use is a PH Balanced cleaner. Yes, there are hundreds of different types on the market, but there are proven winners out there, the main thing is to remember to avoid “oil soap” type products at all costs. The days of getting on your hands and knees to scrub your floors are over. With a micro-fiber mop, go with the grain in 3’x3′ sections at a time, always remembering to rinse the mop in clean water periodically to ensure a fresh cleaning!

Here are a few additional hardwood floor cleaning and maintenance tips to help as well:

1.) Sweep often, daily if needed. Dirt is a floor’s worst enemy!
2.) Rugs should be used to cover high-traffic areas, and move them periodically if exposed to regular sunlight, keeping blinds and shades closed as often as possible.
3.)  Remove shoes when possible, especially stiletto heels, cleats, etc.
4.) Mop up wet spills immediately!
5.) Install floor protectors on furniture legs to prevent scratches. Never drag furniture across the floor, always lift when moving.
6.) If your hardwood floor looks old/dull and you cannot restore the luster with deep cleaning or by polishing, you may want to contact a Professional to learn about your sanding and re-finishing options.

To sum it up, cleaning a hardwood floor really is simple and easy, and oh so worth the time! The main thing is to determine your type of finish and to maintain a schedule of cleaning with your selected Cleaning product on a regular basis.


Thanks, Justin!

Justin lives, eats, and sleeps flooring, with Palmetto Flooring (his own company), and also with a major flooring installations company in Piedmont, SC .  Customer service, and happy customers are his #1 priority.

You can follow Justin L. Morgan on Twitter, and you can Like Palmetto Floors on Facebook, too!



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