How to Polish Wood Floors: Step by Step Guide

​Polishing the floor every 2 to 4 months is what keeps your wooden floor shiny and glace. The reason for polishing is to fill the years old scratches and to defend the future one. 

how to polish wood floors

The maintenance of the hardwood floor also involves weekly cleaning. All the things you are going to know today about how to polish wood floors are what I do to keep my wooden floor lively.

​Learn how to polish wood floors (updated in 2021)

Stuff you’ll need

  • ​Vacuum cleaner
  • ​Mop
  • ​Water
  • ​Dish washing liquid
  • ​Towel/ Rag
  • ​Buffing machine or a microfiber cloth
  • ​Wood polishing product
  • ​Furniture pads
  • ​Mats/ Shoe trays
  • ​Stick-on felt floor protectors

Step one: prepare your floors

​Removal of the furniture & rugs

​Remove every tool and furniture out of the room. Ask others for a hand. If you’re bound to do the job alone. Instead of lifting the items, slide them out of the space by placing furniture pads under the item’s leg. Don’t keep the rugs behind. Remove them as well.

​Vacuuming the floors

​Vacuuming will remove the fine dust particles & debris, leaving an even clean floor behind. Ensure not having any hard plastic part at the vacuum edge or bottom. The plastic can result in scratching the wooden floors badly. I, myself, wasn’t conscious enough and spent some hours more finding out the solution.

Doesn’t own a vacuum or have a faulty one? You can alternatively use a broom for that.

​Selecting the suitable floor finish

Expecting a well-hard finish? Polyurethane does that job ideally & it let you clean all mess with little water amount. On the contrary, shellac or the lacquered floors shouldn’t contact any water & it might as well need to be waxed daily.

Lacquered and shellacked floors need stripping & waxing regularly.

Denatured alcohol & lacquer thinner let you have a floor finishing test. For testing, choose a small area that you keep hidden with a rug or tool. Pour 2 to three alcohol drops and touch the spot after a few seconds using an old clot. If the outcome is softening the finish, then it is shellac. If not, try the pouring 2 to three lacquer thinner drop close to the same spot. If the result is a soft finish now, then it is lacquer thinner.

If it still feels tacky, then it’s likely a water-based finish for floors.

​Mopping the polyurethane floor

Dilute a dishwasher liquid in a bucket with water and wring the mop out till it is damp. Your direction of scouring should follow the grain.

Keep the waxed floor out of moping. Clean it by sweeping and vacuuming.

Please get rid of an excess standing water drop or else it will damage or create buckling on the floors. Use a clean towel or rag to make the entire floor dry.

Maintain smooth strokes while moping, starting from the room corner, and stepping outward towards the gateway so that you don’t have to step on your wet floors.

​Buffing the wooden floor

Buff the wooden floor with a microfiber cloth and do the job using your hand. Don’t want to get on the knee? Use a dry clean mop made of microfiber. The motion should be circular till it shines.

There are buffing machines in the market out there, or you can rent as well. Remember, your motion should always follow the wood grain.

Step Two: ​Now polish your floors

Selection of suitable polish

​Buy the urethane polish with the finish, which is water-based. Get the wax-based polish for any other finishes. Squirt that polish-solution over the floor and wipe the floor out using the microfiber cloth. Doing the job by hand or using a fabric attached mop, either way, is okay.

​Don’t ignore the product’s instruction

​​Please go through the item’s instructions and follow them properly to avoid having a damaged floor. Indeed, you need an even surface for polishing, and so have a check that your foundation needs sanding & waxing or not. Don’t forget to follow the safety guidelines on the label.

​Testing a small area

Even if you are known to the floor finish, the test will help you understand if it can restore your floor color. Choose a place that you usually keep hidden with furniture. Now pour the polish and wipe it out with a microfiber cloth.

In the case of zero-damage, you are safe to apply it on the whole floor. If there is any discoloration by chance, get help from a professional contractor.

Application of the polish

​You can either spray the floor polish directly or apply it to a dry cloth first. For the motion of wiping, maintain a semi-circle in a feathering technique. Overlapping the feathering strokes give you a streak-free finish.

​Moving from the room corner toward the gateway

​While polishing, try to cover a 0.91m x 0.91m at a time, three by 3 in feet. Place yourself to the next corner of the room across the room width. Get to the third corner following the room length. Now get to the end corner. Now move yourself polishing inward to the room center. The doorway should be your last direction to avoid ruining the work.

For the waxed floor, give double or triple polishing layer instead of a single. Don’t be impatient and rush to the next layer immediately. You have to let the previous layer dry for 24 hours for the following to apply.

​Drying completely

The floor will be sticky or tacky till it dries. A wise step will be to wait for 6 to 24- hours before you get on the bed wearing socks. Avoid getting in wearing shoes for 24- hours at the least. You can safely replace the tools and furniture after two days.

Block off the entrance using painter’s tape or a chair for the next 6- hours

Keep away the pets for the upcoming 24- hours from the polished spot or wear them doggie socks after 6- hours


​Place the mats and the shoe trays as well at the polished room edges. To reduce the floor scratches by adding furniture socks or floor protectors to the leg’s bottom of the chair & table.


What could be the best wood cleaner or good to apply on wood?

​Go for a mild dish-soap diluted with water. Always do the sweeping and vacuuming first and apply a little bit of moisture if needed. Drying is also essential as mopping. Drying the floor keeps your base away from streaking & pooling water.

​Is it possible to create a wood cleaner all by myself?

​Of course. Let me tell you a DIY that you can give a try. Mix 30ml or 2- tablespoons of olive oil, 15ml or 1- a tablespoon of white vinegar, & 470ml or 2- cups of warm water.

​What are the preferable tactics for polishing once carpeted wood?

Remove the carpet adhesive and sand the floor. Nails must have left some holes on your base. Fill the gaps up using plugs or wood paste. Before you start the daily basis cleaning or the polishing, complete the vacuuming part.

Can I use Windex on the wooden floor?

Yes, you can. Other similar windows- cleaners will also do for ensuring that they are the same, cross-reference the list of ingredients. In case the components aren’t identical, the possible similarity is also okay.


​Hope now you can polish wood floors with a little energy. The job indeed needs much energy, patience, precaution, and time.

Everything you spent will be worth it when you get to notice the satisfying output. Don’t forget to wear safety clothes and seek advice from a professional if you encounter any unexpected view or occurrence.

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