Facts versus Myths — The Truth About Hardwood Floors

March 9, 2017

Posted in Joshua Chapman

Wood floors have been used for their beauty since 1683 at Versailles. In the years since several myths about hardwood floors have become popular, but they’re mistaken. These myths have cost a lot of people a pretty penny, so let’s take a look at some of them and learn the facts about hardwood floors.

You Should Wax Your Hardwood Floors Regularly

Yes, this was once true, but it changed a long, long time ago. Floor finishes have evolved since then, making wax unnecessary. This was true in the early 20th century when floor finishes were often tung oil, which wasn’t very durable.

In the 1920s, alkyd resin was used to make varnishes more durable, and in the 1930s, polyurethane finishes were introduced to create the first no-wax floors. The finishes used on hardwood floors now are even more durable.

The fact is that unless the hardwood floor hasn’t been refinished since 1930, the floor shouldn’t be waxed. Waxing the floor makes it impossible to apply a fresh coat of finish when it’s needed, so the floor will need to be sanded down when the current finish is due for maintenance.

Besides, a waxed floor can be really slippery under stocking feet. It’s pointless to risk a fall in order to protect a finish that doesn’t need to be protected.

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floor is a Good DIY Project

It has been done, of course. But the people who have done it have gotten results that are mixed, at best.

Tool rental shops usually have floor sanders for rent, but the equipment offered is not always the best, professional-grade tools. People who refinish floors for a living use the best tools that they can get, not rental equipment that has likely been abused

Hardwood flooring has a ‘wear layer’ that can be sanded away over the life of the floor to be refinished. An amateur is likely to take more wood off than is necessary, robbing themselves of years of the life of their floor. They also have a fair chance of damaging the floor, operating equipment that they’re not familiar with.

People with a home wood shop for a hobby can become remarkably skilled, with enough practice. But they don’t start out as experts, and they make plenty of mistakes while they’re learning. If they take on a new tool, without any experience or skill at maintaining flooring, they’re back to being a newbie again, with predictable results.

Even if someone does an amazing job of sanding the floor down and preparing it for a fresh finish, they won’t be able to get the best finishes. Those are not normally sold in the DIY market, they are usually sold to professionals. Finishes that are commonly available to DIYers won’t usually last as long as the finishes available to the pros.

Hardwood Floors are a Poor Choice For Kitchens

I may never understand why this myth got started, or why anyone would believe it. Hardwood floors are wonderful in kitchens. They’re warm, elegant, and certainly durable enough for the most-used room in everyone’s house. With the right choice of wood and finish, a hardwood floor is a fine choice for a kitchen.

A High-Quality Finish Will Prevent Scratching and Denting

Yes, some manufacturers of pre-finished flooring like to give that impression, but it’s simply not true. Some types of wood are more resistant to denting than others, but no wood is dent-proof.

Finishes are often excellent at resisting wear, but they don’t resist impact very well. In fact, you want a finish that will dent with the wood, to maintain the seal that the finish provides.

Scratch-proof flooring has not yet been invented. Drag something that’s hard and sharp across any type of flooring, even ceramic tile, and you’re going to see some damage done. No finish in the world will prevent that.