Wood Floor Care Tips

These tips and shortcuts can help you keep your flooring looking its best. Wood floors are valued for their beauty and longevity. They can last for generations if properly cared for. Though extremely durable, polyurethane finishes are difficult to repair if damaged. Blemishes can be spot-repaired in the following three steps.


First, Sand

First, gently rub the damaged area with fine (220-grit) sandpaper. Don’t cut into the wood itself. Going too deep makes color-matching difficult: It strips off wood fibers that have changed color with age or stain.

Then, Clean

After sanding, wipe away dust that could become trapped in the touch-up coat. Wipe well with a commercial cleaner formulated for polyurethane; these products contain ingredients that evaporate quickly so the moisture won’t affect the floor.

Reapply the Finish Coat

Brush on the polyurethane (use the same finish that’s already on the floor) with a foam paint pad, and then thin out the edges with a dry brush. Work outward from the center. Where the old surface wasn’t sufficiently sanded, some new finish may peel. A water-based finish will dry clear, while oil-based polyurethane will appear lighter at first but will darken with age. If the floor was stained, you will have to re-stain the sanded patch before applying polyurethane.

Wood Floor Problem: Light Scratches

Camouflage with wax sticks (available at hardware stores). They come in many different shades. Wood-stain markers (also at hardware stores) can be used for touch-ups.

Wood Floor Problem: Dark Spots

Remove minor ink, pet stains, and water marks with fine steel wool.

Wood Floor Problem: Chewing Gum, Crayon, and Wax

Cover the area for five minutes with a plastic bag filled with ice, and then scrape with a spoon or credit card. Follow with a commercial cleaner for polyurethane.

Wood Floor Problem: Oil or Grease

Wipe the area with a cloth dampened with a commercial cleaner for polyurethane.

Wood Floor Problem: Burns

Gently scrape away char with a putty knife, then spot-repair as you would for blemishes.