How to Make Your Hardwood Floors Shine

The right flooring can increase the value of your home – most specifically, hardwood flooring. However, between moving around furniture, heavy foot traffic (especially from shoes and high heels), and overall aging, hardwood floors can take quite a beating.

If your hardwood flooring is looking a little dull, you may be wondering how you can freshen them up to gleam and shine like they used to. While it can be done, the shiny effect is best  achieved depending on the type of finish applied to your flooring. Read on as we show you how to identify your floor’s finish, and give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to make them shine as bright as the day they were installed.  

Before You Shine, Identify the Sheen

First things first – it’s important to know that not all hardwood floors shine. The overall “shiny” factor of hardwood floors depends on the finish applied to the wood, so you’ll want to know what your hardwood floors have been coated with before trying to shine them up.

Common finishes – or sealant – applied to flooring includes polyurethane or polyacrylic urethane finish, or paste wax. To find out what your floors have been finished with, specifically, a few quick at home tests can help:

  • Place a drop of water on your floor. If it’s quickly absorbed, or causes spotting on the finish, this indicates the hardwood has not been sealed, therefore should never be cleaned with water. 
  • If the bead of water just sits on the surface without being absorbed, it means the hardwood has been sealed. 
  • To determine if your floor has been finished with a paste wax, grab some fine steel wool and rub it lightly over the floor in a corner. If the floor has been waxed, there will be a gray, waxy film left on the steel wool.

If your floor has been finished and sealed, you’ll want to next identify the sheen. Common finish sheens include matte, satin, semi-gloss, or glossy finish (in order of least to most shiny). As you may expect, matte finished flooring won’t shine up as much as a glossy finish, which is designed specifically to sparkle and reflect light.

How to Shine Your Hardwood Floors

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

To revive your floor’s sheen, you’ll need:

  • A broom
  • Vacuum
  • Floor duster
  • Mop
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Commercial hardwood floor cleaner and/or warm water and dish soap
  • Hardwood floor polish

Step Two: Sweep, Vacuum, and Dust

Before shining up your floors, you’ll want to be sure they’re squeaky clean. Sweep, vacuum, and dust mop them to gather up any dirt, pet hair, and so on so once you wet and shine them, they’ll be free of debris. 

Step Three: Mop

Combine a solution of commercial wood floor cleaner or combination of a quarter-cup of dish soap and a gallon of warm water and run a damp mop over the floor, finishing with a final coat of water only. 

Step Four: Buff Dry

Immediately after mopping, use a microfiber cloth to get every inch of the floor dry, buffing in the direction of the wood grain.

Step Five: Polish

Once your floor is dry, use a hardwood floor polish (you can get this at your local appliance store) to even out any scratches or divots your wood floors have accumulated over the years from shoes, furniture, and general wear and tear. 

Using an “S” shape, pour the polish directly on the floor and run a mop gently through the polish, going in the same direction as the wood grain to spread it evenly. Give the polish about 24 hours to cure before walking on it or replacing any furniture, and it will be as shiny as the day it was installed!

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