How to Restore a Faded Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors have a bright and glossy look that fits with many different house styles. Older hardwood floors have a tendency to look faded over time. A build-up of dust and other debris creates a thick surface that keeps the original colour and shine of the wood, from shining through. Cleaning the wood floors frequently will also create a build-up of wax or soap that makes the floors look dingy. Cleaning the floors properly goes a long way toward restoring the shine.

Mix the distilled white vinegar and water in a large plastic bucket. Dip a terrycloth mop in the solution. Wring out the excess water and lightly mop the floor with the damp mop. Dry the hardwood with a microfiber cloth and check the floors.

Sand the hardwood floors if the colour still looks faded. Remove the top layer of paint or stain from the floors with the sander. Wipe a damp cloth across the hardwood, to remove any dust and dry with a soft cloth. Sand the floors a second time and wipe away any sawdust.

Pick a wood stain that closely matches the original colour of the wood. Remove the lid from the stain and mix well with your paintbrush. Apply an even layer of wood stain to the wood floors and then gently wipe away any excess stain with a rag. Let each layer of stain dry before you add an additional coat.

Wipe the hardwood with a soft cloth, removing any dust or debris stuck to the surface. Apply a thin layer of polyurethane stain to the wood, using the paintbrush. The stain is a clear top coat that protects the wood from dust, but also keeps the wood looking shiny.

Apply a coating of wood floor polish to the floors, but only after the polyurethane stain dries. Rub the polish on the floors with a rag or soft cloth and use a second cloth to wipe away any excess polish. Once the polish dries, you can start walking on the floors.


Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on hardwood floors. These products can scratch and nick the flooring, as well as pull off part of the stain.

Things You'll Need

  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 gallon cool water
  • Plastic bucket
  • Terrycloth mop
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sander
  • Damp cloth
  • Wood stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Rag
  • Polyurethane stain
  • Floor polish
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About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.