With proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floor will provide a lifetime of beauty and service. Improper care or neglect will result in more difficult cleaning and the expense of major repairs.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided by Always Your Home is for informational purposes only. Always Your Home is not responsible for any damage caused by a homeowner utilizing this information.

If in doubt, please consult a hardwood flooring professional.

General Questions

Prefinished vs. Finished-In-Place

What is the difference between prefinished and finished-in-place? Prefinished flooring comes from the factory with the finish already applied. Once you install it, the project is complete and the floor is ready for use. Prefinished flooring generally has a bevel (or groove) on the edge of each board. Finished-in-place is installed raw (or unfinished) then sanded and finished on site. Finished-in-place is square-edged (no groove or bevel). With finished-in-place, there are more color and finish options that a pre-finished floor. A finished-in-place floor takes longer to complete the project but it is a custom floor. The cost is comparable for mid-line products because on a prefinished floor, you pay more for the product and only labor to install it but on a finished-in-place floor, you pay less for the product but more labor to install, sand, and finish the floor.

Solid, Engineered, and Laminate

What is the difference between solid, engineered, and laminate hardwood flooring? The difference between solid, engineered, and laminate hardwood flooring is what the floor boards are made of.

Solid hardwood flooring is just that – a solid piece of wood. It is usually ¾” thick but can range from 5/16” to 1”.

Engineered hardwood flooring is essentially a piece of plywood with the top veneer being the species of wood you have selected (i.e., oak, maple, walnut, etc.). The veneer ranges in depth from 1/64” to 3/16”.

Laminate is particle board that has a “picture” of wood in the melamine top. The bottom is either melamine or paper, depending on the quality.

What do I need to know about the hardwood floor in my new house?

Probably the most important things you need to know is what kind of finish is on it (i.e., polyurethane, oil, wax) and how it was maintained (What product[s] were used to clean it?).


Types of Installation

What are the different ways that hardwood floors can be installed? There are three (3) ways that a hardwood floor can be installed. The floor can be nailed (or stapled) down, glued down, or it can be floated. The installation method is usually determined by the type of wood flooring being installed and the location of the installation.

Sand & Finish

How much dust will the sanding create?

Always Your Home has invested in a Greenguard Certified “dustless” vacuum system. While no system is 100% dust free, this vacuum system eliminates 90-95% of the dust from the process. Once the sanding is complete, it may look as though you haven’t dusted for a week or two.

What does the finish smell like?

Depending on the product, the smells are similar to paints, ranging from very strong oil base to fairly mild latex.

How long before I can walk on a newly finished floor?

A newly finished floor must dry before you can walk on it. The amount of time depends on the finish, anywhere from 2-72 hours. In most cases with waterborne finishes, you can walk on the floor after 4 hours.

How long before I can put furniture back in the room?

A newly finished floor must cure completely before you can put furniture on it. The amount of time depends on the finish. In most cases, you can put furniture back in the room after 24-48 hours.


My hardwood floor is black in some areas, what does this mean?

If your floor is black in some areas, this probably indicates that your finish has worn off and the regular daily dirt from your shoes has ground into the wood. Once a floor is in this condition, usually the only way to repair it is to refinish the floor. However, if the black is from a stain (i.e., animal stains, plant/water damage), sanding may not remove it and board replacement may be necessary.

My floor is no longer shiny or is worn in some areas. What can be done to fix this?

If your floor is no longer shiny, or is worn, in some areas, you would need to consult with a professional to determine what action may be required to repair your floors. The most common options are: screen and recoat or sand and finish.

I’ve had a water leak and my floors are rippled. How do I repair this?

When you have had a water leak and your floors are “rippled,” it is called “cupping.” Wood is similar to a dense sponge. Over time, when subjected to standing water or excessive moisture, wood will soak up the moisture and expand. Since the floor boards are close together, the only direction they can expand it up so the edges start to raise causing cupping. Cupping can be repaired but, unfortunately, there is no quick fix for it. Once the source of moisture has been corrected, the wood floor will need to sit for a while, depending on its moisture content. This could be weeks or even months. However, once the floor has stabilized, if cupping still exists, it can often be re-sanded and finished.

There are spaces between some of the boards in my floor only at certain times of the year. They seem to come and go. Why is this happening and what can I do?

The spaces between some of the boards in your floor are normal. Wood is similar to a dense sponge and it absorbs moisture when the humidity is high then releases it when the humidity is low. Therefore, it expands when the air is moist (in the summer months) and shrinks when the air is dry (in the winter months). Small gaps between boards are not uncommon.

I have dents in my floor from high heels, dropped items, etc. What can be done to correct this?

If you have a solid or engineered hardwood floor, you may be able to refinish the floor to eliminate some of these dents. The depth of the dent and the type of floor will determine how much can be repaired by sanding. Extreme cases may require board replacement.

Care and Maintenance

How do I protect my hardwood floor?

Place floor mats, area rugs, and/or runners in high traffic areas.

Place heavy felt pads on all furniture that will move or be moved (including sofas and chairs). Check them periodically and replace if they are no longer soft.

Sweep or vacuum (turn off the beater bar) daily or as needed.

Wipe up spills immediately.

Periodially recoat the floor to maintain shine and wood protection.

How do I clean my hardwood floor?

That depends on the type of finish used on your floor.

If your hardwood floor has a wax finish, keep dry. Water will cause spotting and hazing. Sweep and vacuum regularly. Periodically polish and, as needed, strip and re-wax.

If your hardwood floor has a polyurethane finish and has never had an oil, wax, or silicone based product used on it, the best way to care for your hardwood floor is to do the following:

Clean your floor weekly, or as needed, with water. Dip an old terrycloth towel in water and wring dry. Wipe floor. Dampness on floor should evaporate immediately. If not, your towel is too wet. If plain water is not strong enough, try a hardwood flooring cleaner such as Bona Swedish Formula Cleaner or Bruce Duraluster Cleaner.

What cleaning products should I use on my hardwood floors?

It depends on the type of finish and what cleaning products have been used in the past. See “How do I clean my hardwoof floor?” above.