How To Care for a Wax Floor Finish

Last October we installed glue down cork floor tiles in our house. For the finish, we opted for a hardwax oil (made from plant oils and waxes) over the more toxic polyurethane choices. While the maintenance is mostly limited to weekly vacuuming and the occasional damp mop, high-traffic areas sometimes need a little extra TLC.

For frequently walked on spaces like a kitchen or hallway, the floor may show some darkening or graying due to dirt that has been driven into the finish. A little extra maintenance in these areas will extend the life of the floors and requires only a few extra steps.

First, vacuum the floors and clean with a gentle solution (I used OSMO Wash and Care). Dilute the concentrated cleaner with water (per directions) and spray directly on the surface. Wipe with a microfiber towel and wait a few minutes to air dry.

Next, pour a small amount of liquid wax cleaner onto an abrasive pad and apply over finish (make sure to wear rubber gloves for this step). The floor will be dry to the touch in a few minutes and any excess cleaner can be wiped away with a clean cloth. That's it, you're done!

In addition to its ingredients, one of the main eco-friendly advantages to a wax finish is that you never have to sand and refinish the floor. Unlike a plastic finish, wax is additive - meaning you can keep applying more over the years (but only where you need it) while still maintaining a consistent appearance throughout. Note: while the wax cleaner can handle stubborn dirt and minor scuffs, scratches in the finish should be spot-repaired with a light sanding and a new application of hardwax oil.

(Images: Lauren Zerbey)

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