I absolutely love all the hardwood floors in my new home, but what I’m not crazy about is how worn out they look.  The best fix would be to have them completely refinished, but since I don’t own the place, I’m not going to pour that kind of money into them.  Instead, I’ll be on my hands and knees this afternoon with the big can of yellow floor wax using some elbow grease to shine my floors up a bit.

If your hardwood floors are less than pretty and you’ve got guests coming for Christmas and want your floors to glow, here are a few tips on how you can add some new life and also keep them in good shape:

1. Lay down a rug. If you’re not in love with your hardwood floors, consider using a throw rug to liven up a room. But if you’re going to put down a rug, make sure you move it around periodically because leaving it in the same spot for long periods of time will cause the floor underneath to discolor.

2. Wax off, wax on. When it comes to waxing your floors, take Mr. Miyagi’s advice, but in reverse. Wax off any old wax buildup already on your floor, then clean the floors before adding the new coat of wax. My younger sister owns a cleaning company and swears by Murphy’s Oil. A highly-polished and newly-waxed floor will give your room a fresh shine; just make sure nobody walks on the floor for a bit because if they do right after waxing, they’ll slip all over the place.

3. Stain your floors. Give your hardwood floors a new look by staining them. After cleaning the floors and removing dust, stain with a rag or paint roller. Check with somebody at the store for advice in selecting an appropriate stain, as each variation of hardwood flooring will require a particular type of stain. Use a polyurethane finish when the stain is dry to create a smooth, glossy look. I’ve used polyurethane lots of times not just on hardwood floors, but on other wood furniture and it’s awesome. And easy to clean!

Once you’ve got your floors looking all sparkly new, here are some ways to keep them looking that way:

  • Close curtains and blinds- UV rays from sunlight can fade colors and cause discoloration.
  • Use protectors under furniture bases that can scratch or mar the surface.
  • Clean, wipe or blot spills immediately to help prevent stains.
  • Place doormats at every door- this helps to trap dirt at the doorway instead of transferring it to the floor.
  • Dust and vacuum floors regularly to maximize beauty and decrease buildup.
  • Be careful about using bleaches, mildew removers, oven cleaners, drain openers and plant food near your floors because all of these contain chemicals that can damage or discolor your floors.
  • Rearrange area rugs occasionally because they block sunlight causing a discolored area to develop under the rug.
  • Avoid exposure to water.
  • Never clean hardwood floors with steel wools or scouring powders as these can cause damage.