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Unsealed Hardwood Floors

I just moved into a house with unsealed hardwood floors and I was wondering what is the best way to go about cleaning them. I've heard not to use water because it will make the wood pucker. I have heard not to use Murphys Oil since they are not sealed. I've heard water and vinegar works well, as well as odorless mineral spirits?


They really need a good cleaning and I just don't want to ruin them.




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Posted 2012-02-15T15:01:19+0000  by aripper aripper

Greetings aripper,


Thank you for your question and for joining our community. My name is Tom, known here as HD116, and I have had quite a bit of woodworking experience in my lifetime. Any product that contains water should be avoided if the floors are really not sealed. The water content will cause the grain to swell, and the floors will have to be sanded.


You may want to check and see if the floors were sealed and the finish is just not apparent. The easiest way to do this is to place a drop of water in an inconspicuous place and see if it is absorbed readily. If so, you will need to a product that does not contain water (such as mineral spirits) to clean the floor initially. You can combine the mineral spirits with fine steel wool to clean tough areas.


If the water beads up, there are a host of excellent products such as Bona, Trewax, and Bruce hardwood cleaners can be used. I learned about using vinegar and water on hardwoods from a cleaning professional that worked in very expensive homes years ago. It works well, but does make you hungry for pickles shortly after cleaning. :smileywink:


If the floors really are not sealed, I highly suggest sealing them as soon as feasible. I have gotten a lot of feedback from customers in my home store on a product called Rejuvenate. Customers with rental homes, foreclosures, as well as those with worn floors have been very pleased with the products and the results. It will fill in scratches and seals and gives the floor a new look. It is available in Satin and High Gloss Finishes.


Again, thank you for joining our community. I hope you find this information useful.



Posted 2012-02-15T16:35:49+0000  by HD116

So I figured out that my floors are sealed. And I looked at the Bona products in stores and it says to only use with polyurethane flooring. Which mine are not. Any other suggestions???

Posted 2012-03-14T13:40:17+0000  by aripper

Hey there aripper,


What that means is that they are meant to be used over wax finished floors. The flooring that we still in-store now are all urethane finished. Years ago floors were refinished using a wax coating as opposed to the urethane, so the cleaners you'll see now are reflective of this change.


If your floors are not treated with urethane, then they were likely sealed with shellac and then a wax top coating to help re-seal them over time, or just the wax itself.


Since you're not 100% sure on what treatment your floor has, I conferred with my friend and colleague patinpaint on this one.


The best way to tell if you have a wax finished floor, is to check the floor itself. Typically it has a dulled finish to it and dirt sticks to it like a magnet. Run over to a corner in the room and see if you have any dirt deposits that seem almost "stuck" in the floor. Also, scratch the floor a bit with your fingernail and see if anything comes up under your nail. If you find either of these, then you likely have wax.


Removing old wax and bringing it to a state where you can put urethane over it can be a lengthy and tricky process, and perhaps not one that you want to get into. I personally, along with Pat, don't like to recommend using strippers as a first suggestion, since there are so many ways in which they can go wrong for the floor. If the wax has served your floor well so far; it may be best to just stay with it and re-treat it.


Now...back to the actual question! = P


If you do indeed have a wax floor, I would recommend against using the Bona, Bruce or similar hardwood cleaners since most are made for no-wax floors. I would stick the the tried and true warm water and vinegar method. Tom mentioned using it above, and I completely agree. This should be your best method for cleaning the floors and can also save you money on costly cleaning products to boot!


Hopefully this helps you out and gets your floors on their way to a sparkling new finish!~


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Posted 2012-03-15T18:10:04+0000  by Jay_HD_CHI
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