Hardwood Frequently Asked Questions

Does hardwood flooring promote a healthy indoor environment?

Yes. Bacteria, dust and dirt do not embed themselves in wood flooring, as they do in other flooring options. Simple regular maintenance—such as dustmopping, sweeping, or vacuuming—keeps wood floors dust-free.

Is hardwood floor hypoallergenic?

Millions of people suffer from sensitivity to chemicals and toxins. Tests by leading allergists have proven that wood flooring provides a healthier environment for these allergy sufferers. Wood doesn't harbor irritating dust and microorganisms.

Once installed, how often must wood flooring be replaced?

Every hundred years or so. In fact, the heart pine floors in historic Bacon's Castle in Virginia are more than three centuries old and counting. Simple care and maintenance keeps wood floors looking beautiful for a lifetime. Instead of laying an entirely new floor when the original is worn, wood floors can be rejuvenated with sanding and refinishing. When done by a wood flooring professional, wood floors need only to be refinished every 10 - 15 years or 10 - 12 times during a floor's life. When a wood floor's useful life is over, it's completely biodegradable.

Is recycled wood flooring available?

Yes. Wood salvaged from a variety of sources, including old barns and factories, is a popular design trend. Wood recovered from riverbeds is another growing segment of the wood flooring industry. Logs that sank during logging operations years ago are being recovered by a number of companies and used to create truly unique flooring. Today's only significant source for heartwood from long-leaf pine is through reclaimed timbers from warehouses and factories constructed during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Chestnut, hemlock, poplar, walnut, and cypress are other options.

Is it cost-effective for home builders to select wood flooring instead of less-costly materials?

Yes. Residential real estate agents say homes with wood floors sell faster and fetch higher prices, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the National Wood Flooring Association. By a four-to-one margin, real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a house without wood floors. Some 90 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price.

How do I select the right species of wood?

Choosing a species of wood involves more than selecting a color to match your décor. Other appearance-related attributes are important too, such as texture, grain, and cut. Installers will want to consider mechanical properties like dimensional stability, machinability, and ease in finishing. And any specifier will need to consider availability and cost.

Is hardwood durable enough for the entire house?

Yes. Specifiers and clients are discovering what basketball players have always known: wood flooring can take a pounding and still look beautiful. The finishes on most new wood floors stand up to heavy traffic, bringing wood flooring into bathrooms, kitchens, and other high-traffic areas. These finishes resist wear and stain better than other finishes and require no stripping, no buffing and no waxing.

Is hardwood flooring good for acoustics?

Churches, synagogues, and other clients with auditorium projects increasingly request wood floors for its warmth and acoustic attributes. Ask your wood flooring professional about special installation techniques that can increase acoustic abilities.

How are finishes on hardwood maintained?

Surface finishes like polyurethane require only simple care. Just dustmop, sweep, or vacuum regularly. Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations if known. When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish. The frequency of recoating depends on the amount of traffic. Never wax a surface-finished floor, and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.

How are wax or penetrating-stain finishes maintained?

Dustmop or vacuum regularly, and use a buffer to maintain the shine. Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations if known. If buffing no longer restores shine, you may need to rewax. If so, apply a cleaner and liquid wax specifically for wood floors. Apply the wax evenly, allow the floor to dry, and buff to the desired luster. Depending on traffic, a properly maintained wood floor should need waxing once or twice a year. Be careful not to over-wax a wood floor. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.

Can cleaning products for vinyl or tile floors be used on hardwood?

No. Never use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. And never use self-polishing acrylic waxes on wood floors. These waxes cause wood to become slippery and dull. In this case, the floor must be sanded and refinished.

Can wood floors be damp-mopped?

Never damp mop a waxed floor. When cleaning a surface-finished floor, follow the manufacturer's recommendations. You may generally use a dampened (near dry) mop to maintain a wood floor; however excessive moisture will cause damage. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood, and leave a discoloring residue. If water spills on a wood floor, immediately wipe it up with a clean cloth.

How do I prevent scratches on hardwood?

Place mats and throw rugs at doorways to help protect wood floors from grit, dirt and sand. Place felt pads under furniture legs and vacuum/dust your wood floor regularly.

How can scratches or stains be repaired?

First aid for wood floors depends on the type of finish used. In the following chart, solutions in the middle column are for floors finished with wax or penetrating stains. Solutions in the right-hand column are for floors finished with polyurethane or other surface finishes.

Note: When removing stains from any wood floor, always begin at the outer edge of the stain and work toward the middle. Always use the wood flooring manufacturer's cleaning, repair and finish products when known.



Solution: Wax or Penetrating Stain

Solution: Surface Finish


Wax the affected area using a soft, clean cloth.

Repair with a touch-up kit for urethane finishes, available from any wood flooring retailer.

Dried milk or food stains

Gently rub with a damp cloth, then rub dry and wax.

Use a cleaner developed specifically for urethane finishes. For stubborn spots, scrub using the urethane cleaner and a scrub pad made for urethane floors.

Water stains or white spots

Rub the spot with #000 steel wool and wax. If this fails, lightly sand with fine sandpaper and clean the area using #00 steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner. Allow the floor to dry, then stain, wax, and hand buff.

Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.

Heel scuffs

Rub in a small amount of wax with fine steel wool and hand buff to a shine.

Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.

Mold or mildew

Rub with a wood cleaner using a soft, clean cloth.

Use a cleaner developed for urethane finishes. If the mold or mildew lies underneath the surface finish, sand and refinish the area.

Chewing gum, crayon, or candle wax

Apply a plastic bag filled with ice until the deposit is brittle enough to crumble off. (Solvent-based wax can also be applied to loosen the deposit.) Remove crayon or candle wax by placing an ink blotter on the wax and applying a hot pressing iron to the top of the blotter.

Apply a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the deposit until it is brittle enough to crumble off. Clean the area with a product made for urethane finishes.

Oil and grease stains

First rub area with kitchen soap having a high lye content or saturate cotton with hydrogen peroxide and place over the stain. Then saturate a second layer of cotton with ammonia and place over the first. Repeat until stain is removed. Let the area dry and then hand buff.

Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.

Dark spots and ink stains

Try the water stains or white spots treatment. If the spot remains, apply a household bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak for an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth, wipe dry and smooth with fine sandpaper. Stain, wax and hand buff.

Follow directions for dried milk or food stains.

Wax buildup

Strip the old wax away with odorless mineral spirits or a wood floor product made for stripping wax. Use cloth and fine steel wool to remove all residue. After the floor is dry, wax and buff.

Not applicable.

High heel shoe dents

1/4 inch spike heels will cause dents that require professional repair.

1/4 inch spike heels will cause dents that require professional repair.