Design: Eightytwo

Hardwood floors are beautiful and timeless. But if you don’t care for them properly, you’ll be left with dull, scratched floors. Learn how to extend the life of your flooring with the right cleaning routine: Maintain your hardwood floor according to its finish — not the type of wood!


Surface-sealed floors are finished with urethane or poly-urethane, which appears glossy. They make the floor stain- and water-damage resistant.


Use floor cleaning product recommended by the floor installer; otherwise, opt for plain water and mild, pH-neutral soap (like dishwashing liquid).

Use a microfiber mop and wring it out completely (damp or nearly dry) before using on the floor.


Use oils, waxes, acidic products (such as vinegar) or furniture sprays, which can dull the finish.

Use a soaking-wet mop.


Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors have oil-based finishes that soak deeper into the wood and harden. They give the floor a matte or satin finish.


Apply paste wax or liquid wax designed for wood floors once or twice a year.

Buff regularly to maintain shine.


Damp mop — just sweep or vacuum.

Use acrylic or water-based waxes, which can discolour the woodwork.

Over-wax; if the floor loses shine, try buffing first.


Lacquered, varnished and shellacked floors are technically considered as surface-sealed, but they are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear. Treat these floors, as well as untreated floors, as you would penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors.



Not sure what kind of floor finish you have? Using a sharp blade, scrape off a bit of the finish in an inconspicuous area. If you scrape up a clear material, the finish is likely a surface seal. If the floor smudges but no clear material is scraped up, it is likely a penetrating finish.