How to Brighten Dull Wood Floors

Although hardwood floors are attractive and add value to your home, they can also lose their attractive appearance over time. Wood floors don't require a lot of maintenance, but they will lose their luster without the occasional proper upkeep. The most important consideration when it comes to brightening up your floors is what type of finish is used to protect and polish them.

Unwaxed Floors

Step 1

Sweep the floor with a broom to get rid of any debris.  Vacuum the floor completely to remove any tiny particles.

Step 2

Buff the floor with a buffing machine until the finish of the floor is smooth.  Buffing machines can be rented from home improvement and many hardware stores.

The American Hardwood Information Center recommends a buffing machine with an abrasive pad and/or fine-grit sandpaper. 

Step 3

Clean up any dust with a broom and vacuum.  Wipe the floor with a slightly-damp towel.

Allow the floor to dry completely. 

Step 4

Apply a coat of shellac or polyurethane finish to your floor with a brush. 

Waxed Floors

Step 1

Sweep and vacuum the wood floor to make it as clean as possible. 

Step 2

Apply a commercial wood floor cleaner to the floor with a mop.  You can also use a solution of water and liquid dish soap.

Allow the area to dry completely. 

Step 3

Apply liquid wax stripper to the entire floor with a mop.  Old wax is what makes a floor look dull.

Allow the floor to dry completely.  Wipe off the floor with a clean cloth.

Step 4

Apply a coat of past wax to the floor.  Spread the wax over the floor by using circular motions with a cloth.

Allow the floor to dry. 

Step 5

Buff the floor with a buffing machine. 

Things You Will Need

  • Broom
  • Vacuum
  • Towel
  • Cloth
  • Buffing machine
  • Floor finish
  • Brush
  • Floor cleaning product
  • Mop
  • Water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Wax


  • Check with an expert if you're not sure what finish to use. Wax provides a finish that lasts longer, but a polyurethane or shellac polish is better if you plan on refinishing your floors in the near future.

About the Author

John Smith is a writer with over 30 years experience. He has worked at a newspaper, various magazines and websites, and he has interests in a wide range of subjects including sports, politics and entertainment. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in history from the College of New Jersey.

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