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How do you treat gray hardwood floors?

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Quick Answer

Hardwood floors that turn gray require sanding and refinishing. Floors develop a gray cast when the finish erodes or incurs damage from improper cleaning. The only way to restore the floor's natural color is to remove the damaged finish, sand the boards, and apply fresh varnish.

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Full Answer

There are several ways to identify floors that need refinishing. The water test involves sprinkling a few drops of water over the boards. Quick absorption indicates that the floor has exposed fibers and needs immediate attention. Floors that slowly absorb the droplets still have partially intact varnish. They benefit from gentle cleaning and polishing but do not need a new finish.

Another way to determine the condition of a hardwood floor is to walk across it and listen for squeaks. Squeaky floors have warped boards. If a noisy floor is not visibly warped, the marble test is useful. Rolling a marble across the floor highlights the problem areas because they interfere with the marble's trajectory. The best time to replace warped boards is shortly before refinishing the floor.

Proper maintenance extends the life of a refinished floor. Cleaning products intended for finished hardwood floors remove grime without stripping the finish or pitting its surface. These products also eliminate the temptation to use varnish-destroying steam cleaners.

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