Who doesn’t love the look of shiny, well-polished wood floors? They reflect (literally) the care and effort it takes to maintain them.

With the exception of pets who can’t get a grip for quick getaways or who slide into doors and walls on occasion, most others like the look of the planks and strips, and regular maintenance helps their longevity.

There are two types of hardwood floors: solid and engineered. Both are made using real wood.

Solid wood flooring is real wood throughout the entire thickness. It can be sanded and refinished several times if needed. Engineered wood flooring uses real wood but multiple layers of veneers instead of a solid wood from top to bottom. It generally cannot be refinished.

The care of your floor varies slightly, depending on which type of flooring finish you have, so it’s a good idea to keep the manufacturer’s information filed for reference.

Regular care

Any wood floor requires regular care to keep it looking new. Follow these tips for regular maintenance from the National Wood Flooring Association:

• Use products specifically designed for your type of flooring. Don’t use products designed for vinyl or tile as they can become slippery and dull the wood surface.

• Place throw rugs both inside and outside of exterior doorways to capture dirt and grime before they hit the floor; both can abrade the surface of wood and cause deep scratches.

• Don’t wet-mop a wood floor, as any standing water can dull the finish or damage the wood.

• Wipe up spills immediately.

• Protect floors by using furniture protectors under legs to prevent scuffing and scratching. If you must move an appliance or heavy furniture, use a lifter or mat to prevent scuffs — do not slide things on wood flooring.

Cleaning

Floor-care specialists at Lowe’s recommend a daily dusting routine to remove dirt than can get ground into the floor’s surface. The best dust grabber? A microfiber duster that uses a static charge to attract the loose particles.

Another option for daily dusting is a vacuum with a soft floor attachment or a soft broom.

Dry mopping works well for wood floors, but avoid anything using steam, soap, ammonia or vinegar for cleaning. Steam can lead to visible floor damage, as the applied moisture can cause the wood planks to cup and distort. Vinegar or other acid-based cleaners can erode the wood’s finish.

Avoid using string mops on wood flooring, as they push the dirt around instead of picking it up.

A barely damp mop can be used on nonwax finished floors, but be sure that it’s barely damp to the touch and leaves no standing water on the floor surface.

Scratches

Some scratches are inevitable on wood, but to minimize them, be sure to keep your pet’s nails trimmed.

Keep the floors as clean as possible so dirt isn’t ground into the wood’s surface.

Asking family members and guests to take off their shoes is another option that will help maintain flooring, as cleats, high heels or poorly maintained shoes can cause damage.

Mats

The World Floor Covering Association also recommends mats and throw rugs, but more specifically those with a waffle-patterned backing instead of solid foam, which can damage wood floors if dirt or moisture is trapped underneath. Look for rugs labeled specifically for use on hardwood floors.

The group also recommends placing throw rugs or mats in areas where there might be excessive moisture.

Finishing touches

If you have a wax-finished floor, buff it regularly to maintain the shine. Rewaxing is necessary once or twice a year.

If you have a urethane finished floor, look for special cleaners, scrub pads and touch-up kits for specific maintenance.

Local input

We asked some local experts for their No. 1 tip for wood floor owners, and the answers highlight three important points.

Scott Cheney, owner of Prestige Hardwood Flooring, advises, “Always use the proper cleaners recommended for the floor type. We recommend Bona brand cleaners for most floors.”

Stanley Steemer owner Erik Vandendrieschse cautions, “Don’t use oil soaps (like Murphy Oil Soap) and acrylic waxes on wood floors, as all they do is attract dirt to the floor surface. Use a microfiber mop and a dry vacuum on a regular basis to keep the original floor finish looking new.”

Randy Reed, owner of CarpetsPlus Color Tile encourages Central Oregon homeowners to use a humidifier in their homes to help keep wood flooring from shrinking. He notes, “That’s our No. 1 complaint from wood floor owners, and it’s easily preventable with just a little moisture in the air.”

— Reporter: gwizdesigns@aol.com

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