Bob is asked for advice on the care and repair of wood floors not just from homeowners with hardwood floors in Minneapolis, St. Paul and greater Minnesota ... but from across the country. He is an expert authority on the subject and his true passion for wood floor durability, low maintenance, environmentally-friendly benefits and lasting beauty shines through.
If you are researching, and unsure about the type of flooring to choose for your home, read Bob's article on the benefits of hardwood flooring. You can learn about laminate and engineered wood flooring too.
Though wood floors are fast and easy to care for, it is vital to use the right hardwood floor products and materials so as not to cause damage to the finish. Bob shares his knowledge about how to clean hardwood floors; what products, tools and even area rug pads he recommends, and much more to help hardwood floor owners make the most of their investment. Browse the articles to the right for more information.
Below is a collection of wood floors FAQs from people across the country that may also provide hardwood floor care insight. If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to contact Bob, whether you are a customer or not, and he will respond personally.
Disclaimer: As you will read below, Bob does his best to offer honest and helpful advice in an attempt to give back for the knowledge and experience has has been blessed with in a very fulfilling career. You agree that your use of this entire website, and the information contained herein, is not legal and binding. You agree to hold Robert Johanson and Fashion Floors by Bob, Inc. harmless of any results you get based on your choices and actions using the advice offered here.
Hardwood Floor Care FAQs Q: I just had new hardwood floors installed. The problem is I put felt pads on the legs of the furniture but the furniture slides when we sit down. What do you suggest? Are rubber leg pads ok or will they leave black marks on the floor?
A: White rubber is best. Felt pads are great too. They may be slippery when new but they will break in and be less slippery over time.
Q: Hi Bob! My husband and I are searching for ideal hardwood flooring, tile and carpet to update our 1800sq ft house. We have two dogs who are well groomed but certainly love to rough house. My question for you is what type of hardwood floor would be best suitable for us. We also are going to be painting our walls warm colors this summer and we have beautiful oak trim all around the house. Do you have any hardwood floor color advice?
A: Whatever type of wood floor you choose to install, I would suggest either prefinished wood floor with a 25-30 year warranty, or a wood floor that you sand on-site and finish with Glitza-Maxx water borne 2-part finish or Bona Traffic 2-part water borne finish ... for maximum abrasion resistance. Regarding color, you can get samples from a wood floor contractor, distributor or retail outlet. Bring the samples home, lay them against your trim, furniture, cupboards, whatever it is you want to match or contrast with. Color is a personal decision depending on the overall look you are trying to accomplish, but samples really help. Dogs can do as much damage to hardwood flooring as they can any other type of flooring. It's a simple matter of prevention. Here's a link to tips on dogs and hardwood floors.
Q: I am wanting to put down new 3/4 x 2" Oak flooring that is already prefinished. The top layer of protectant is Aluminum Oxide coating for endurance. Once the floor was installed I wanted to apply an additional finish so as to cover up the cracks between boards to help prevent moisture causing damage. I was told that you can not apply a coating over Aluminum Oxide. Is this true? What should I use?
A: All finishes just slip and slide right through the cracks - AND - it voids your warranty if you coat it. I advise you NOT to coat it.
Q: I made the mistake of using Natural Tea Tree Oil for Hardwood Floor Cleaner...now as you describe, I have that haze on my new floors, made even worse after walking on it...I have tried vinegar without any luck. I also purchased Bona's Cleaner which doesn't seem to have any effect...I have read that there are hardware store chemicals that can remove it. What do you suggest?
A: I would suggest maybe trying paint thinner, mineral spirits or lacquer - make sure you wear a mask when using these chemicals - toxic fumes. Do a small area using a rag to see if it works. Goof off would be another thing to try. All of these could take the shine away and eliminate the footprints, but they also might ruin the finish, so try a small area in a closet or something. Last resort would be to have it sanded off and refinished.
Q: I have wood floors that are less than 3 years old. My cleaning lady about 2 years ago put Holloway House Quick Shine all over my main floor and for some reason it looks as if the "splats" have dried all over my floor. Giving it a "orange peel" appearance. I contacted Holloway House to ask for something to remove the product and they sent a Wax Remover. I attempted to remove the product and no matter what I try it still remains. My floors look horrible. I am wanting to fix this problem. I am unsure if the product dried causing this "orange peel" appearance or if my floor finish reacted to the product thus causing this appearance. I am wanting to do whatever necessary to fix this problem....and am a great do-it-yourself'er. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Do you suggest "screening" it and then putting a poly back over the top? Please advise.
A: This does not sound good. Based on your description, I think your floor finish is ruined. It sure sounds like that cleaning product was not meant for the finish on your floor. Lots of retail products mislead consumers and promote use on wood floors - and maybe they work wonderfully on wood - but hardwood floors have that protective finish (i.e. polyurethane), and that's what is being cleaned, not the wood. It's hard to know without looking at it, but I believe you'll need to completely sand and refinish your floors, unfortunately. A buff or screen probably won't do it. If I were you, I would contact your homeowners insurance - see what they say. And/or you might contact the Holloway House or the cleaning lady to make a claim on their insurance. Somebody screwed up. The wax most likely only added to the damage, which seems to be permanent. You should never put wax on poly-coated wood floors. In the future, use a cleaner specifically for polyurethane, or whatever finish is on your floors.
Q: We had a section of our hardwood floor replaced. Because it is newer than the existing wood, the color does not match. Have you or do you know of anybody who has used sunlamps on their floor to speed up the aging process for the replaced section to "catch up" to the rest of the existing flooring? Thank you for your help.
A: I personally would not recommend a sunlamp. I think it would just burn the floor. In my over 20 years experience, there really isn't anything you can do except let it age. Over time, the two floors will blend. In situations like this for my customers, I use stain to help match the new wood with the existing wood. Or reuse older wood for the patch. Sorry I couldn't offer a solution.
Q: I was wondering if you can recommend any brand of rug pad that I can purchase. We have new floors and I am trying hard not to damage them. I found some pads at Cost Plus that are 100% polyester. Are these safe to use? Appreciate any advice. Thanks for the great info on your site.
A: Yes, 100% polyester is safe to use, in my experience, on a polyurethane finished wood floor! I offer specific area rug pad recommendations here. Glad you enjoyed the site.
Q: : I live in a lease house, it is on peer blocks, wood floors with carpet on top. The carpet feels damp a lot of the time. I assume moisture is coming up from under the house; is there a way to seal under the house or pull carpet up and seal from the top? Looking for an answer.
A: I would recommend pulling up the carpet, sand and finish the wood floors with 3 coats of poly. As well, go under the house and plastic if you can. But just sealing the floors from the top would help immensely. It is really hard to know without seeing it. You might want to have a local wood floor contractor pay a visit.
Q: I have a stain on my hardwood floor from an area rug, all the way around the rug. Is there any way to re-stain this area. The area affected is 1 inch wide all the way around the rug, at the very edge. Thanks.
A: Unfortunately, there is no magic to fix your rug stain. You could try using Goof Off Paint and Stain Remover, but typically, in a case like this, the entire floor needs to be sanded and refinished, or you just cover up the affected area so it isn't seen. Here are my recommendations for the appropriate area rug pads, for future reference.
Q: Does it matter if you use distilled vinegar to clean your finished hard wood floors?
A: Actually, vinegar mixed with water is a good idea. Helps with streaking and it's an all around good cleaner, safe for polyurethane floors.
Q: Hi! I hope you can answer this question for me. Our kitchen table has left black rings, or "dots", on our hardwood floor where the table legs touched the floor. In moving the table today I noticed the damage. Is there anything I can do to remove this? We are putting our home on the market so I need to fix this. The rest of the flooring is in great shape. If you have any suggestions that would be great! Thank you.
A: First, put furniture pads on the bottom of those table legs to protect the floor going forward. Second, this is difficult damage to repair, but you can cautiously try "goof off" or a similar product. I suspect, however, that the reaction between the floor finish and the table legs might have caused permanent discoloration that cannot be corrected without sanding and recoating the entire area. It is hard to know without looking at it. Is your floor polyurethane-finished? You might try contacting a manufacturer of such a floor finish - for example Dura Seal, Bona or Basic Coatings. Just google them and you'll get results.
Q: We have recently discovered that under the horrible carpet we have through the main portion of the house- we have solid oak wood floors. It will need a sand and refinish ideally- though they are in pretty good shape. We can't afford to do that for a while...what do you suggest in the mean time to protect the floors for now? Our house is about 50 years old, we have no idea how old the flooring is. Thank you for your time.
A: Since you are planning to sand and refinish the floors anyway, just use them as you would any other flooring until then. You can certainly put down area rugs and such, and should take the normal precautions to protect your hardwood floors such as avoiding water damage and never using wax or a soap-based cleaner on them. After they are sanded and coated, they should pretty much look brand new again!
Q: I have a light colored wood flooring that has stains from a potted plant that overflowed water ... It is I believe a mixture of water and dirt ... dried in ... how do I clean? Thank you.
A: If it doesn't clean up with your normal wood floor cleaner, or a mixture of vinegar and water, then it sounds like a water stain and is probably permanent damage that unfortunately needs to be sanded and recoated. It is hard to know without looking at it, but there is no "special" cleaner for water damage.
Q: I am having my wood floors refinished at the moment. I like the post sanding color- yet my refinisher is insisting that I need to stain it. I want to just seal it and put urethane down. Is that ok?
A: The simple answer is ... there is no need to stain. You are the customer ... it is your floor ... and if you like the color of the natural wood, sealing it is the next step. Perhaps your contractor does not like the color for some reason, or suspects that you will be unhappy with the results if you don't stain. I would ask for reasons why he insists on stain to gage his reasoning. But bottom line: it is your preference.
Q: I have a question for you. My husband is currently laid off from his drywall job of 11 years and would really like to learn how to install hardwood flooring - with the hopes of being able to do it permanently for a career. Do you know of any training centers either through some sort of union or company where he may be able to contact someone in regards to how to begin learning this profession? I hope that I am not bothering you, and I think your work (the pics on your website) looks wonderful.
A: You can get information regarding training from The National Wood Flooring Association at: http://www.nwfa.org/member/edu.aspx. And I believe this local distributor has info or possibly offers classes - you can give them a call to find out. http://www.lonmusolf.com/. Local distributors of hardwood flooring materials are often a great resource. Another idea is to check Craig's List for job postings. A Wood floor contractor may be hiring a laborer with minimal experience ... your husband could begin learning on the job. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Q: I have new stair treads. They did not cover them. The bottom 5 are water, drywall and mud stained. Tried to sand and nothing will work. Used mineral spirits. Any help would be great.
A: Unfortunately, the only thing I can recommend is that they be sanded professionally. You might check on Craig's List for a contractor offering low rates but make sure they are insured and can supply references.
Q: I have a 100 yr old home with two units that are very run down and have been vacant and for sale as a tear-down for the last 2 yrs. Since it may be another 2 yrs or more before it does sell, I would like to rent it out. I do not want to spend money on sanding or get into a big project, since it will eventually be torn down, anyway, but I would like it to appear clean and neat. The old hardwood planks are very beat up, heavily stained, scratched and worn. I would like to know if it would come out more even-colored using a dark stain (the stain right now is a very blotchy dark walnut) or using a paint, and if a paint, what kind is best for indoor use?
A: You really can't stain over existing stain and polyurethane ... it won't stick. Paint should be fine, but I recommend contacting a paint store or paint professional regarding the type of paint to use and the process itself. I found an interesting story online about a couple who painted over their hardwood floors in their summer home. It seems to offer some helpful hints. Since I enthusiastically install and maintain hardwood floors, I don't have any experience covering them up! Hope this helps ... http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/how-to/how-to-paint-your-floors-and-not-screw-it-up-000210. Good luck!
Q: HELP! I have Bellawood light maple floors. I have used everything to clean my floors, including the recommended Bellawood floor product. I have sought advice from everyone I know. My floor looks filmy, streaky and when the sun shines on the floor you see every smudge. I also have tried several kinds of mops and the Hoover cleaner for hardwood floors. It's just getting worse. How can I get all this stuff off my floor and return it to a clean, non-smudged, streaky appearance?
A: It sounds like your floors have been cleaned or otherwise exposed to a product like Murphy's Oil Soap. Oils, waxes and certain soaps should never be used on a hardwood floor finish. And when they are, even just once, it often leaves a filmy residue that includes smudges, smears, and even footprints, and it is very difficult to remove. Remember that you aren't cleaning the wood boards themselves (unless the finish has worn and they are exposed and damaged). You are cleaning the finish, most likely polyurethane that coats the tops of the wood boards to protect them. Only use products specifically formulated for polyurethane as recommended on my site. I suggest a good scrubbing, maybe several times, with a vinegar and water solution. The goal is to gently remove the build-up of wax or oils. A word of caution: If there is indeed build-up on your floor, Do NOT have your floor recoated or refinished until that build-up is removed. The new finish will not adhere properly and you'll have all kinds of trouble with it. If you can't remove the build-up, the only solution is to have the floor sanded and then refinished with a fresh three coats of polyurethane. I hope this helps. I would be interested to know what types of products you've been using and if you think this might be the problem.
Q: I have recently had hardwood floors installed in my condo. I have a heavy king sized bed frame. What do you recommend for protecting the floor from the weight? Furniture leg pads? If so, what brand and store do you recommend? Thanks for your time.
A: My bed frame is the kind on rollers and I use towels to protect the floor. A hand towel folded three or four times so its nice and thick works great. I use a small bungee cord to securely wrap the excess towel to the leg of the frame so if the bed moves or rolls, the towel padding stays in place under the rollers. Sometimes, a little creativity and common household items are far better than a "specialized" product for purchase. Hope this helps. I do recommend a variety of furniture pads as well.
Q: We bought a house and right by the dishwasher (it overflowed) and is creaky and I would like that fixed. The area is about 1'X 2'. I believe the flooring is maple 2"-3" strips. Just asking for a guestimate for repairs.
A: Thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, patch and repair will not look good unless you sand and refinish the entire floor once the repair is completed, because otherwise the patched area will not blend. It is possible that you might find a contractor willing to do just the repair - but I'm not comfortable with that, so I'll let you know that up front. I would need the square footage of the entire room (and if it flows into other rooms, those too) in order to give you an estimate.
Q: I have a hardwood floor downstairs and carpet upstairs, but the floors are slanted. Before I redo them, I want them to be level. Can't decide if jacking up the floors or just relaying the subfloor with shims would be the cheaper fix. What do you think?
A: Thanks for your inquiry. In this circumstance, I recommend that you consult a general contractor.
Contact Bob with a question or for a free estimate.