How to tell the Finish of your Hardwood Floors - Welcome Home Cleaning

Our Blog

Interesting articles about things you probably never thought about, but will be glad you read.

How to tell the Finish of your Hardwood Floors


There’s no doubt. Wood floors are absolutely beautiful, and they can easily give any home an instant facelift. (Kind of like what hiring a professional Austin cleaning service will do for your home.)

But these beautiful wood floors are also susceptible to dirt, smudges, and even damage if not cleaned properly. Keep in mind, it’s not the type of wood that determines how you should clean the floors, it’s the finish.

But these beautiful wood floors are also susceptible to dirt, smudges, and even damage if not cleaned properly.

The wood finish is the protective barrier that is applied after installation, and there are 4 types: water based, oil based, acid cured, and moisture cured.

To figure out your wood floor finish, the American Hardwood Information Center suggests these quick tests:

TEST 1: Run your hand over the wood. If you can feel the grain texture, your floor has a “penetrating” finish, which is usually a combination of natural oil and drying additives, and topped with wax.

TEST 2: In an inconspicuous spot, dab a tiny amount of paint remover. If the finish bubbles, it is a surface finish, like polyurethane.

TEST 3: In another inconspicuous spot, drop a few drops of water. If the water beads up, the finish is intact, but if it is absorbed into the floor or leaves a dark spot, the wood is either unfinished or the applied protective layer has worn away. If after 10 to 15 minutes, white spots form beneath the droplets, the floors are sealed with wax. (You can use a piece of steel wool with wax to gently remove the white spots.)

TEST 4: Go to an out of the way corner or spot and gently scratch the floor with a coin. If the finish begins to flake off, it was treated with one of the older methods of varnish or shellac.

In a pinch, just rub your finger across the floor. If you create smudges, then the floor has been treated with a penetrating seal, shellac, varnish or oil finish, and then waxed. If no smudge appears, the floor is surface sealed.

Surface-sealed floors are stain and water-damage resistant, and very easy to care for. Never use oils or waxes on surface-sealed floors, and never clean them with ammonia or abrasive cleaners that will dull or scratch the finish.

Penetrating-seal treated and oil-treated floors need to be protected with liquid or paste wax.

Lacquered, varnished, shellacked and untreated floors are not resistant to wear and moisture, so you should also protect them with a paste or liquid wax.

Now that your wood floors are spic and span, you probably don’t have a lot of energy left for the rest of your house. No worries! Give one of the top Austin maid services a call today. The awesome cleaners at Welcome Home Cleaning will take care of everything for you! CLICK HERE for a FREE quote!

Do you know a wood floor-cleaning tip or trick? Leave us a comment to let us know!