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Your Hardwood Floor’s Biggest Enemies

Hardwood is a traditional choice in flooring, yet it also fits many modern home designs. This versatility and beauty are what keep hardwood floors populating homes around the world. Hardwood floors may be durable, but they are not impervious. They actually have more enemies than one might think. The essentials of hardwood floor care and maintenance begin with staving off its worst enemies.

Water: Enemy #1

Water poses a threat to any wood surface, finished or not. Therefore, always wipe up spills immediately. Do not allow standing water; never let wet rugs, towels, or anything else sit on hardwood for a length of time; and don’t mop sealed and waxed floors.

In essence, just keep water away from your hardwood floor. Not only will it cause the floor to lose its shine, but can also cause warping and eventual rot.

Dust and Debris

Hardwood floors can often look clean and in actuality be quite dirty. Dust and debris that is left laying around gets tracked across the surface, causing scratches and other blemishes. Simply sweep or vacuum regularly to keep dust down. Just know that standard upright vacuums themselves can cause damage to the floor. You’ll need special hardwood floor attachments or a good broom.


Sunlight shining directly on hardwood can cause discoloration in the long term. This is due to ultraviolet rays, which effectually burn the wood in the same way they can burn your skin if you spend too much time in the sun. Protect your hardwood floor with blinds or drapes, at least when the sun is shining directly on the surface.


Furniture is another big enemy of hardwood with a rather simple solution. Go to your local home store, pick up some felt glides and attach them to the bottom of furniture legs to prevent scratching. If a piece of furniture has casters, swap any plastic or metal for the non-marking rubber type. And, finally, lift furniture when you move; this is a common source of scratches on hardwood.


In the age of sneakers this is less of a problem, but high-heeled shoes and any shoe with metal, rivets, or any other hard exposed section can dent or scratch the floor. It is usually best to get in the habit of having your shoes off when walking around the house (freshly-waxed hardwood is so fun in socks anyway!). And remember that sneakers too can get small rocks and grit stuck in the soles, becoming just as much an enemy of your hardwood floor as anything else.

No Big Deal

This may seem like a lot of enemies for just one floor to have, but don’t be too afraid. Most of these enemies are held at bay with some simple, common sense floor care. First of all, know your floor. Read any manufacturer warnings, labels, and warrantees. Be sure to do regular cleaning and refinish the floor as necessary. Just a little maintenance time every week will ensure a long, peaceful life from your hardwood floor.

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