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Old hardwood floors are often as sturdy as they are gorgeous. With a little care, you can bring them back to their former glory. Scrape away materials like dried paint, wax deposits, and bits of carpeting that might have covered the floor. Use a hardwood cleaner or mineral spirits to deal with stains. Try using hydrogen peroxide to remove deep pet odors. If necessary, screen and refinish your old flooring, and avoid sanding unless it’s absolutely necessary. Once you’ve revived your old flooring, sweep, vacuum, and mop it regularly to keep it in the best shape.

Method 1

Cleaning Your Floors Regularly

  1. Sweep your floors daily. 

Daily maintenance will help keep old hardwood floors in the best shape. Sweep or dust-mop them daily to remove dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris. Be sure to sweep and mop in the direction of the wood grain. This helps prevent dirt and grime from getting stuck in cracks between planks.

  • A microfiber towel is also great for removing dust.

2. Vacuum using the bare floor setting weekly. 

Vacuuming your hardwood floors will get rid of dust and dirt between the floor boards. Using the bare floor setting will help prevent the vacuum from scratching your floor. A hose attachment with a soft bristled brush is also an effective way to prevent scratches.

3. Mop monthly using a terry cloth mop head and hardwood floor cleaner. 

Only use cleaners labelled for hardwood floors. Stay away from vinegar, ammonia, and harsh chemicals. Spray a small amount of hardwood cleaner directly onto the floor, then wipe the floor down with a dry terry cloth mop.

  • Remember to go with mineral spirits if your finish is unsound. Avoid using water-based hardwood cleaners on an unsound finish.
  • Avoid using a wet mop and always use as little moisture as possible when cleaning your hardwood floors.

4. Wipe up spills as soon as possible. 

Coffee, ink, paint, and pet messes are just a few materials that can cause long-term stains. Wipe up these and other spills immediately so prevent stains from setting. Use a slightly dampened cloth and avoid over-saturating the floor with water.

Method 2

Reviving Old Hardwood Flooring

  1. Determine your floor’s finish. 

    If you’ve just purchased an old house, ask the realtor or former homeowner about the hardwood floor’s history. If you’re unable to find information about your floor, you can test it to determine the finish.
  • Test finish soundness by applying a few drops of water onto a worn area. If the water beads for a few minutes, the finish is sound. If the water absorbs into the wood, the finish is unsound and water-based cleaning products must be avoided.
  • Sound finishes are more likely to be modern, while unsound finishes are more likely to be older.

2. Scrape away dried paint, gum, and other petrified materials. 

Older hardwood floors are often spotted with caked, petrified materials, like dried paint, over-waxed deposits, or gum. If it was covered by linoleum or carpet, bits of the covering and adhesive might still be present. Hand scrape any of these materials with a plastic spatula or dull putty knife.[6]

  • If you have trouble, try placing a plastic bag filled with ice cubes on top of the gum or wax. Let it sit for a few minutes, then try scraping it off the floor.

3. Clean a sound finish with a hardwood cleaner. 

If your old flooring doesn’t have any serious damage, it might just require a simple cleaning, buffing, and resealing.Remove all furniture and floor coverings, and take off your shoes or cover them with booties. Spray the floor with a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner. Wipe the floor down with a dry terry cloth mop or a terry cloth hand towel.

4. Clean an unsound finish with mineral spirits. 

It’s best to clean a floor with an unsound finish with odorless mineral spirits. Dampen a terry cloth towel and wipe down the hardwood surface. Use a scouring pad or sanding screen to deal with tougher spots.

5. Soak deep, widespread pet stains with hydrogen peroxide overnight. 

It’ll take some work to remove stains and odor if your hardwood flooring is in a room that was formerly used as a litter box. Pour hydrogen peroxide over the affected areas, cover them with rags soaked in hydrogen peroxide, then let them soak overnight. The next day, wipe up any excess cleaner, then screen or sand and refinish the floor.

  • If you’re just dealing with one light stain, cover it with a rag soaked in hydrogen peroxide, but check it every 10 minutes. Wipe up excess cleaner as soon as the stain is gone.
  • In extreme cases of pet odor, the subfloor below the hardwood is contaminated. The hardwood floor will need to be removed so the subfloor can be treated.

Method 3

Screening Old Hardwood Floors

  1. Test for wax. 

    Unless you know your floors are unwaxed, you’ll need to test for wax in order to know how to best care for your flooring. Dampen a piece of extra fine steel wool and use it to rub areas you think might be waxed.
  • Wax will show up as a light grey smudge or smear on the steel wool.
  • Floors that date prior to 1930 typically have many layers of paste wax over a tung oil finish or shellac. You can screen and re-wax the floor or use a chemical stripper to remove the wax and apply a modern polyurethane finish.

2. Screen your floor with a buffer. 

The easiest and gentlest way to restore an old floor to its former glory is to screen it with a buffer, which can be rented from most hardware stores. After cleaning the floor, use a handheld sanding screen to roughen up the edges and corners of the room where the buffer can’t access. Use a buffer with a 150- or 120-grit sanding disc to screen the floor, or buff down the existing finish.

  • Sanding pads are color-coded, with black, purple, and brown being abrasive stripping pads. Green and blue are mid-level abrasive, and tan and white pads are mild polishing pads.
  • The sanding discs will wear out, so you’ll need at least three to screen a typical room.
  • Buffing will not remove deep scratches or heavy damage. It will, however, help restore shine and remove surface scratches to old or dull hardwood.

3. Refinish your floor. 

Once you’ve finished buffing, wipe down windowsills and other surfaces and vacuum the room thoroughly to remove all dust. Your choice of finish will depend on the results of your wax test.

  • For waxed floors, apply paste wax. If your floor was finished with a modern sealer, go with polyurethane. You can’t use one if you started with the other: don’t apply wax to a polyurethane finish or vice versa.

4. Avoid sanding old hardwood floors unless absolutely necessary. 

If your floor is more than 50 years old, you should avoid sanding it. There’s a limit to how much wood you can remove without permanently damaging the floor. When cleaning and reviving an old hardwood floor, sand only if it’s so heavily stained that screening or chemical stripping aren’t options.

5. Consult a professional with restoration experience. 

Get professional help if your old hardwood flooring is seriously worn or damaged, or if you’re unsure about its composition. Word of mouth is typically the best way to find a good contractor. Look for one with restoration experience who won’t advise you to simply rip out the entire floor unless absolutely necessary.

  • For example, if your floor needs patching, you could have an experienced contractor remove flooring from a hidden spot, like a closet, and use it to replace a worn or damaged area.

Full article with thanks to https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Old-Hardwood-Floors