How to Care for Hardwood Flooring

Learning about hardwood flooring is crucial to caring for it properly. Our DIY experts explain the basics.
engineered floors are pressed layers of veneer

engineered floors are pressed layers of veneer

Figure D

Hardwood floors start out rough. After the pieces are planed for a smooth finish, a tongue and groove is cut into their sides. Parquet floors are made with much the same process.

Engineered floors are created from several layers of wood veneer pressed tightly together. One advantage of engineered floors is that they can be laid directly on top of concrete slabs.

The finish on the floor will partly determine the best method of floor care. In general, caring for waxed wood floors is the same as caring for those coated in polyurethane -- but there are some differences. Waxed floors should be cleaned with a cleaning/waxing compound that lifts out dirt and adds a coat of fresh wax. Polyurethane-coated floors should be cleaned with vinegar and water.

First, though, find out if the floor is covered with wax or polyurethane. To find out, drip some water onto the floor. If the water beads and stays on top of the floor, it's probably polyurethane; if it soaks in after a few minutes, the floor is probably coated with wax. Another way to tell is to wipe the floor with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. If the floor is waxed, the cloth will develop a waxy feel.

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