5 Ways to Bring Your Wood Floor to Life (To Look New Again)

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Web Operator

A wood floor can look amazing in pretty much any home, but it does come with a price. Eventually, your wood floor will no longer look as good as it once did, and it’s something that you just cannot help but notice.

However, you can make your wood floor look new by cleaning, polishing, buffing, or even adding rejuvenating products to bring it back to life.

It then leaves you with a problem. Is it even possible to do this? Well, the good news is that it is possible, and you have several options available to you as well.

Now, you could go ahead and rip up the entire floor and lay a new one. That would certainly change things, but it’s also a massive project and comes with a hefty price tag.

So, I don’t think that is always the answer, although I do admit it has to be done on some occasions.

wood floor in a bedroom

Instead, what I will do over the next few minutes is to provide you with a number of other potential solutions. I promise they will be relatively easy to do, and yet the improvement it will make to your wood floor will probably leave you astonished.

But I cannot promise that each method will have the sort of results you were hoping for. It may involve you using a couple of the methods, but it all depends on how poor a condition your floor is in when you start trying to renovate it and bring it back to life.

Also, I must stress that the methods I will discuss are usable on any type of wood floor. I don’t want you feeling left out just because you believe your particular floor doesn’t make the grade in some way. 

Understanding Your Floor Type is Important

short wood planks on floor

Before I dive into the different methods you should use, I need to make an important point. You need to know the type of floor you are dealing with. Is it a natural wood floor? Do you actually have laminate planks that are made to look like wood? 

Knowing the type of floor you are dealing with does make a huge difference in how you can tackle this problem. After all, there’s no point trying to perhaps apply a new stain to a floor that is actually artificial wood. Also, knowing you have the correct tools to begin with makes a lot of sense.

You should also be aware of the type of sealant that will probably be sitting there on top of the wood. This will be important should you need to go as far as refinishing the floor, but I hope to help you out to avoid using this method. As you will see later, it’s time-consuming, and also very expensive compared to the other methods I will mention first.

So check this out first, and then see which method is best for the type of flooring you have installed. It makes a difference with the end result you are then able to achieve. 

Is it Difficult to do?

large wooden floor in room

I should also stress that there’s no need for this to take up a lot of your time or even result in you putting in too much effort. As long as you keep on top of things from the outset, then looking after your wood floor should simply become part of your regular chores.

You see, a hardwood floor will give back to you in the same quantity as what you put into caring for it. If you leave it alone and don’t try to preserve it, then it will look tarnished and scratched in next to no time. At that point, some planing or sanding will be required, which takes longer.

However, the opposite is also true, and I’ve sort of placed the methods in order of what you should be doing to prevent you from having to go to the fifth method, which is undoubtedly more full-on with its approach.

But I do stress that regular upkeep of your floor from the moment you lay it is important. It will certainly stop you having to put in so much work to get it looking pristine again in the future.

Method 1: Cleaning

cleaning wooden floor

Now, this is something you should be doing regularly, and it will certainly help keep your floors looking pristine for longer than you thought possible. However, I’m talking about giving the floors a good clean and not simply a quick skim over them with a mop.

For this, I have a few suggestions on what should effectively become your routine if you wish to preserve your hardwood floors.

First, sweep and do so regularly. This is important as it will help remove specks of dirt all over the surface. The problem with dirt on your hardwood floor is it will eventually start to scratch and taint the upper layer of the wood, and that’s not something you want to happen. 

With sweeping, you want to use a relatively firm brush capable of lifting dirt off the floor, but it should not be too harsh. If the bristles are too firm, you will potentially damage the upper layer of the floor, and I don’t want you doing that.

If you scratch and damage the upper layer, it just means you are causing more problems for the future. How easily this will happen does depend on the wood used for the flooring along with the brush being used.  

Next, you have to mop. However, don’t just throw down a lot of water and use any old mop. Too much water is going to damage the wood over time, and it will end up losing some of its polished appearance as well.

Instead, it would be best if you used a microfiber mop. Another alternative is a steam mop that can be used on a wood floor. Also, you just want to make the wood damp rather than soak it, and a steam mop for wood will do exactly that.

Finally, don’t use all those harsh chemicals to clean your wood floor. They may very well get the job done, but the chemicals will also potentially strip the wood, thanks to them being abrasive. Removing the lustre that appears on the floor is never a good thing.

Instead, you want to use something that is mild or look for a cleaning agent that has been designed for hardwood flooring. 

I would also avoid scrubbing the floor with a harsh tool. You might think that cleaning with brute force will mean it’s going to pick up that dirt more quickly, but the truth is that it will also damage the upper layer of the floor.

If you damage the upper protective layer of the wood, then all those scratches and dings will become more apparent and also become easier to make. By doing this, you will only be making your life significantly harder in the future, and it would certainly speed up the decline of the floor and its appearance.

So, consider these points regarding the cleaning of your floor.

  • Brush and sweep to remove dirt
  • Not brushing will mean scratches will begin to appear
  • Mop regularly to prevent a build-up of dirt
  • Consider using a steam mop to get a better clean
  • Avoid harsh chemicals. They will only damage the wood

Method 2: Polishing

polishing a wood floor

Aside from cleaning, I also suggest polishing your wood floor regularly. I know this does take time, but the end result is astonishing, and it will also protect the wood. Due to this, you will find the floor will look amazing for longer, and who wouldn’t want that to happen?

This is the reason why I stated you need to know the wood you are dealing with. Having a laminate floor is not going to be something you need to polish, so you would be wasting your time.

But polishing and buffing your hardwood floor regularly will make a huge difference to how it looks. However, I will go more into buffing in the following method because it’s not something that you need to do as often as polishing the floor. 

For the polishing part, you do need to ensure you get the correct polish for a hardwood floor. When you do, simply pour some of it in sort of an s-shape in one corner, and then use a mop to spread it all over the floor. This is easy to do, and it will also allow you to determine if the polish is indeed the right one for your floor. 

Please do this in small areas, and make sure you really work it into the grain, as the polish will also offer some protection to the grain from any potential damage. Take this job slow and easy to get the better results. Rushing it may leave the floor looking patchy with areas you have missed, and that’s never a good thing. Seriously, you may not think it will make a difference, but as soon as light hits it, those areas that were missed will stand out.

But when you polish the floor, there’s no need to spend too long a time doing it and really rubbing it in. The polish itself is designed to be worked into the wood floor in as little time as possible, so don’t think you are trying to get the family silver sparkling. That’s not what it’s there for. 

Again, polishing your floor is not something you need to do every week. However, it should still be a task you complete several times a year in order to keep your floors looking pristine. Just pay attention to the polish you will use, and make sure you go ahead and use enough of it for it to make a difference and get it looking the way you want it. 

For me, the key points regarding polishing includes:

  • You only need to do it a few times a year
  • Get the correct polish for your type of floor
  • Don’t bother trying to polish laminate floor, as it won’t work
  • Go slowly to avoid creating patches

Method 3: Buffing

floor buffer machine close up

Polishing your floor is only part of what you can do to make things look new again. The other key part of this process is buffing, and that’s the part that will get things looking sparkling.

I know that the idea of buffing may sound tedious and as if it would take a considerable length of time to complete, but it’s not as bad as you may fear. You may also think that hiring a buffing machine would speed it up, but I recommend avoiding that.

I would only ever use a buffing machine if your floor is looking seriously bad and the wood is already looking a bit past its best. Apart from that, a buffing machine increases the risk of damaging the upper layer of the wood, and you are then opening up problems for yourself in the future.

So, buffing will involve you getting down on your hands and knees and putting in some effort. Using some brass wool, work on areas with evident surface scratches and rub the wool over them to remove the marks. You can also use this method to try to remove minor dings.

Once you have worked to remove the marks, you then need to polish the floor in order to give it some protection. Remember, parts of the floor will now be exposed due to you working at removing those marks, and you do not want to leave them open to the elements. 

After adding the polish, use a buffing pad to try to get a fantastic shine on the floor. Again, this part requires effort, but the end results you can achieve will make it all seem worthwhile.

The key points regarding buffing your floor includes:

  • You rarely need to buff your wood floor
  • It will create a stunning shine to most wood floors
  • Only use a buffing machine if the damaged area is extensive
  • You need to seal in the marks after buffing to ensure the wood is not exposed

Method 4: Rejuvenating Products

rejuvenating wood floor

Products exist on the market that are designed to rejuvenate hardwood floors, and I would certainly suggest you try one and see the difference it can make to the finished appearance. However, this is not the first method I would look at doing if I was trying to get my wood floor to look new again.

Also, you may see them being referred to as hardwood rejuvenating products, wood restorers, or even just listed as a product designed to bring the wood back to life. No matter the name, they all do the same thing and get you the same type of end results. 

With this method, I would suggest taking it easy the first time you use the product. I know there will be instructions on the bottle, but I would still use less than they suggest until you can see the outcome. 

I’m not saying it’s going to destroy your hardwood floor. It’s not designed to do that, but I feel the cautious approach is best. Also, check the wood you have on your floor, and ensure the product you use is the best for that wood species. Again, you do not want to cause yourself problems when it’s so easy to avoid them. 

For this, you can use a mop to spread the product over your floor. You will then need to typically leave things for around an hour so the product can dry before you are then able to move everything back into place and use the room again.

Oh, and this product works best when you use it on a hardwood floor that has been sealed with polyurethane. It just does a better job and looks far superior compared to anything else you may use.

I feel that this method is quick to apply via a roller, and the results you can achieve are impressive. Also, you do not have to use this method regularly because after applying it, you can then use the other methods above to keep on top of how your wood floors then look.

I think you need to keep the following points in mind when it comes to rejuvenating a floor.

  • Polyurethane is a great sealant for the floor
  • Check the product works with your type of floor
  • It’s often quick to apply, and delivers amazing results
  • You don’t have to do it too often to get the desired outcome

Method 5: Refinishing the Floor

laying new wood flooring boards

The fifth and final method I want to mention is to go ahead and refinish the entire floor. I put this last because it’s not something I would automatically go to until I’ve tried the other methods above. Actually, it’s more like a last resort rather than anything else. 

The reason why I would try the other methods is because of the time, and potential cost, of refinishing the floor. It just means a lot of work, and you shouldn’t even have to go here if you have been keeping on top of things with the other methods.

Refinishing the floor will involve you sanding the floor down, and then sometimes adding multiple layers of sealant to make it look amazing. The sealant is usually polyurethane, and it takes time for each layer to dry sufficiently for you to then be able to apply the next one.

But you still have another potential problem to deal with. 

If the hardwood floor is old, then it may be at a point where the boards are incapable of being sanded anymore. Some experts feel hardwood boards can only be sanded down six to eight times before they need to be replaced. That is obviously something else you need to think about, or at least be aware of, as you start to strip off the old sealant and prepare the floor for something new.

Also, sanding the floor repeatedly will always weaken the wood, and that hardly gives you confidence in even using the floor. 

In addition, this is not a job you should do if you live in a part of the world where the winter is cold. Even with heating in your home, wood will contract to a certain extent before it then expands again as the temperature warms up.

Doing this in winter will then lead to you getting a patchy finish in the summer as the wood opens up, and nobody wants that to happen to them. So, you may have to bide your time before you can do this simply because of external factors that are not in your control. 

But even though it does take a long time, I have no doubt that you do then end up with a fantastic looking floor. It’s really worth the effort when you then see the difference it can make even to floors that you really thought were well past their best. 

The key points regarding a complete renovation of the floor includes:

  • This is really the last thing to try
  • It’s a huge project and takes significantly longer to complete
  • You should never do the job in winter
  • If you have repeatedly sanded your floor, this will be the only option left

Which Option Do You Choose?

new wood floor

So, out of the different methods, which one would I choose? Honestly, I feel that the cleaning and polishing should be carried out regularly, which can stop you from going to the other more invasive methods. 

For me, that’s the key here with keeping your wood floor from deteriorating overall. Preventing your hardwood floor from getting into a poor state in the first place will undoubtedly save you from getting into too much trouble later on. 

As I said when talking about the method, I would seek to avoid refinishing the floor as much as possible. That is really when the floor is in such a poor state that the other methods will make no difference whatsoever. Also, you do then have the cost of buying a new floor to think about.

Ultimately, what you want to do is to prevent you floor getting to the point where you need to use method number five on my list. It’s a major upheaval, and nobody wants to really go to the extent of practically replacing the entire floor. It’s just too much hassle, even though I admit that there are times where it’s really required. 

But I do believe that regular upkeep of your floor, by sweeping and mopping, should mean you simply do not run into these sorts of problems. Correctly caring for wood from the outset does mean it lasts substantially longer before you need to contemplate doing any major overhaul or renovation. A hardwood floor is a prime example of that.

Overall Conclusion

And those are just five ways you can manage to make your wood floor look like new again. I tried to ensure they were all easy to do and where it didn’t have to take up most of your day, as I feel it should encourage you to go ahead and carry out this maintenance regularly.

By doing so, I feel it should reduce the effort you need to put into carrying out the work, as you do not feel as if you are fighting against a mountain. 

Yet, to get the best out of your wood floor, I suggest checking out these articles to help you come to terms with the correct tools and other key elements.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.