Hardwood flooring is a perennial favourite among home buyers – who can resist the warm glow of well-cared-for wood? Nevertheless, everyday wear and tear can make even the most beautiful hardwood look dull and dingy. Upgrading the surface on hardwood floors is near the top of the list when a house stylist recommends projects to complete prior to listing a home for sale. Having hardwood is like money in the bank, but only if the floors are in good shape.

Floors with gaps between planks and/or dings in the wood itself may require a complete refinishing project, but fortunately, many homeowners can make their floors look sensational again without calling in professional refinishers.

If your floors don’t shine, you might just need to do a heavy-duty cleaning to restore their sparkle.

  • First, sweep thoroughly with a soft-bristle broom to get down into the cracks. A stiff-bristled broom or an ordinary vacuum brush roller can scratch the surface of your floors leaving tiny crevices in which dust and grit can gather. It’s just such dust and grit that can mar the surface of your floors and steal their shine.
  • Next, use a vacuum cleaner to remove hard-to-reach dirt in corners and between floorboards. (Use the hard floor attachment to avoid damage from the roller.)
  • Afterwards, mop using a very soft cloth and concentrated cleaner specially made for hardwood. Ask at your local flooring outlet about what products are best. Now that hardwood has made a big comeback, manufacturers are creating new products all the time – ask somebody who gets paid to know what’s best. It’s important that you understand that steam, water, vinegar and even cleaners that purport to be specially formulated for wood are not always ideal for timber flooring.
  • High-traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens may require the help of an expert. If your floors take a beating from pets and children, you may have to call in a professional to do the deep cleaning. Go ahead and have it done, though, before you consider a total refinish since, in most instances, a good cleaning will restore most floors without the expense.

After a thorough deep cleaning, you can keep your floors in great shape if you do the following:

  • Carefully clean the surface three times each week using a vacuum cleaner or microfibre cloth. Remember, it’s the dust and grit that mar your floors. Keeping the tiny crystals of sand and dirt off the floors will give you a longer-lasting shine.
  • Deep clean once every month using the concentrated wood floor cleaner suggested by your flooring pro.
  • Call in a professional to do a deep clean once each year.


If your floors need more than a thorough cleaning, a complete refinish may be looming in your future. Few homeowners have the time or the equipment to refinish hardwood floors well. While the equipment can be rented, the know-how is critical, particularly when you’re dealing with an element in your home that carries with it such potential to generate a higher sale price.

Refinishing floors is a huge job, particularly if your home features hardwood everywhere. Unless you don’t intend to list your home for sale for several months, don’t try to do it yourself. Each room you refinish will require several steps. Sanding, patching, and staining are followed by the application of a slow-drying top coat, which can take days to dry thoroughly and a week or more to cure. While this drying and curing is underway, you can’t just go on to refinish another room because of the dust and dirt the process entails.

Like other investments, refurbishing your timber floors will pay off in the end. Bear in mind that if there are repairs to be done on individual floorboards, only a skilled woodworking professional can do your floors justice. Your house stylist can usually evaluate the damage and assess the over-all condition of the floors in order to advise you. A good house staging company sees enough hardwood to know what’s required in your case. As a bonus, if you’ve hired an experienced, full-service home stager, your designer will have a list of craftsmen who can do the job for you at the best possible prices and in the shortest amount of time.

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