Well maintained hardwood floors bring warmth and beauty to a home. But worse for wear wood floors most often marred by scuffs, stains and dullness look, well, less than appealing.
Although most hardwood flooring is made from durable oak, foot traffic, spills and furniture can take a toll even the toughest wood species.
Thankfully, there are some ways to bring tired floors back to life.
Here are a three options to consider:
Refinish Hardwood Floors
Though this is a time consuming and messy, dust-producing process, the best way to refine hardwood floors involves sanding floors down to the bare wood using a floor sander with progressively finer grits of sandpaper. A brush or foller is then used to apply a protective finish — usually in the form of several coats of polyurethane, a durable, moisture-resistant water- or oil-based coating. Big-box retailer Lowe’s offers step-by-step instructions for DIYers.
If you’re not ready for the work involved to refinish hardwood floors, consider screening. Similar to sanding but not as aggressive or labor intensive, screening is done by making overlapping passes with a floor buffer (polisher) outfitted with 60-, 80-, 100- and (finally) 120-grit screens (clog-resistant sanding disks) to remove the polyurethane. When that is finished, apply a new, clear finish.
For DIY enthusiasts who would rather not screen or refinish hardwood floors, a number of companies make products designed to revive tired hardwood floors and make them look better in the short term. Most of the systems involve prepping the floor with a good scrub and then applying a refresher to the surface with a mop. Floors with no polyurethane topcoat can be rejuvenated by cleaning and wiping on a natural finish, like tung oil or boiled linseed oil which is a penetrating sealant that soaks deeply into the wood’s pores.
Although there are ways to improve the appearance of most hardwood floors, the best way to preserve them is to combat their biggest enemies, dirt and abrasion, by vacuuming regularly and putting down runners and doormats near entryways.