How to Make Hardwood Floors Shine

Hardwood floors are quite popular and there’s a reason – they are gorgeous. They bring so much to a room such as setting the tone and enhancing your decorating scheme. The only drawback is that hardwood floors can lose their luster and when they do, it’s time to shine them up. After all, you didn’t opt for a hardwood floor so it could look dull and lifeless.

There are many looks you can achieve with a wood floor. Some homeowners love a “gym” finish with extreme shine while others prefer a more rustic, farmhouse appearance. Even flooring that is not designed to have a noted shine can fade and look tacky though. You certainly don’t want your matte finish floor to look dingy and dirty when it’s not. Ironically, the cleanest floors can turn out looking the dullest due to the cleaning solutions used on them and the frequency of cleaning them.

Types of Wood Flooring

Keeping your floor clean and shiny is easier to do when you know what type of finish it has on it. A polyurethane or polyacrylic urethane finish is designed to have a glossy shine. Paste wax finishes are not nearly as shiny. Engineered wood comes with the sheen built in as a rule while solid wood flooring may be purchased without a finish and you add the finish of your choice.

Some wood floorings have no finish at all and if that’s the case and you are not happy with the lack of luster your floor has, you may want to add a finish onto it.

More About Your Floor: Why Is My Wood Floor Dull?

Before you can successfully add shine to your wood floor, it’s imperative to determine why it’s not shining. Then, it’s easier to figure out what to do about it.


How much traffic does your wood floor receive? If a lot of shoes are stomping on it or even bare feet, it just makes sense the finish will become dull quicker than the rest of the floor space does.


Is your wood flooring exposed to elements such as an extended amount of sunlight or extreme cold? These things can dull a shine in no time flat.

Test Your Flooring

Place a tad of water on the floor. If it causes the flooring to spot or is quickly absorbed, there is little or no sealant on it and therefore should never be cleaned using water because the moisture can damage it. If the water beads up or sits on the surface of the floor, it is sealed.

To test to see if the finish is a wax finish, take a little steel wool and gently rub over the floor in an out-of-the-way area such as the corner of the room. If the steel wool has a grayish waxy film on it, your floor has a paste wax finish.

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Possible Reasons Your Wood Floor Looks Dull

Now that you’ve determine the type of flooring you have and the kind of finish it has, here are some common issues that cause wood floors to look dull:

Redistributing Dirt

The last thing you want to hear after you’ve supposedly cleaned your floor is that all you have really accomplished is moving the dirt around but…it may be true. If your mop or mop water isn’t totally clean, it’s impossible to get your floor clean. The dirt, dust, and grit are just becoming trapped in the cleaning solution or straight water and therefore are simply remaining on the surface.

The solution to this problem is to always start with a clean mop and clean water. Be sure to rinse your mop part-way through and the cleaning solution as well.

Improper Cleaning Solution

Even cleaning solutions that say they are safe for wood floors may not be and just because they may be safe doesn’t mean they are effective. If your floor looks milky or greasy after you have mopped it, the solution isn’t the proper type for your floor’s finish.

The solution is clear. Switch cleaning products to one that is appropriate for your type of floor finish. Be sure you aren’t using a product with chlorine bleach, ammonia, or undiluted vinegar. Harsh chemicals wreak havoc on wood flooring too.

Too Much Cleaning Product

Especially if you love the way your cleaning product smells, it may be tempting to use more of it than the instructions call for. Don’t though. Excess cleaning product will cause your flooring to appear dull. The same is true if you are using too much water in your mop.

The solution is to use less solution and to make sure your mop isn’t too wet. Do a trial run and if your floor looks shinier, you have your answer.

Excessive Scratches

Scratches make the surface of a wood floor look dull. Everyday wear and tear are hard on wood floors, especially if you have pets that are trotting across them or if people are wearing hard-heeled shoes indoors.

To solve this problem may be a little trickier. Encourage people to remove their shoes inside your home and have your pet’s nails clipped if possible. You can also repair the scratches in your flooring where the finish is gone and the bare wood is exposed.

Waxy Buildup

Floors that are not sealed with polyurethane finish and that depend on a paste wax can build up was and look dull very quickly even if you only wax them once or twice every year.

To remedy the problem, you can strip the old wax off using mineral spirits before applying the next coat of wax. This will give your wax a fresh slate to run off of and will make them shine nicely.


Floor Needs Refinishing

No hardwood floor finish lasts forever and if it is time for yours to be refinished, you are not going to achieve a beautiful shine until you refinish them. The solution…refinish your wood flooring and be amazed at how they shine.

Wood floors are designed to enhance your home. If yours isn’t doing that because it looks dull, the tips above should help them to shine ALL of the time.

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