How to Rehydrate Wood Floors – Top 3 Ways

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how to rehydrate wood floors

Although it’s not talked about, wood floors need to maintain a proper amount of moisture.

While you often hear warnings not to oversaturate them, you rarely hear warnings about the opposite: drying your floors out.

The truth is, if the humidity levels in your home drop too low, your floors can become dry. This causes splintering, splitting, and gapping.

If you’ve noticed any of these problems, here’s how to rehydrate wood floors.

Key Takeaways

Here’s how to rehydrate your wooden flooring.

  • Run a humidifier when the weather gets cold (e.g., in winter).
  • Treat your wood with a floor restorer, dry and mop with microfiber.
  • Hire professional wood restorers (if you can salvage the floor).

What’s the Best Way to Rehydrate Wood Floors?

The goal of rehydrating floors is to increase their moisture levels so they don’t suffer damage like splintering and gapping. One of the best ways is to keep the humidity in your house at an appropriate level. For hardwoods, aim for 38 to 42% humidity. You can do this with a humidifier or by boiling a pot of water.

Expert Advice: As a general rule, moisture is a wood floor’s biggest enemy. But in certain scenarios, where the air gets overly dry, a lack of moisture can turn out to be just as damaging. During winters, I always make it a point to keep a close eye on the indoor humidity. If it drops below 35%, you might want to consider using a humidifier to maintain that all-important balance. But remember, anything above 55% could lead to mold or mildew growth.

Top 3 Ways to Rehydrate Wood Floors

top 3 ways to rehydrate wood floors

If you need to rehydrate your floors, these are your best bets. However, just be aware that results will vary depending on the dryness of your floor.

If your hardwoods are so dry they’re brittle, there’s very little you can do to save them.

Run a Humidifier in the Winter

Low humidity is likely why you need to rehydrate your wood floors and should be the first problem you address.

Because if you don’t fix the humidity levels in your home, your floors will only worsen.

If you use a wood stove to heat or live in a climate with cold winters, your humidity is probably too low. The fix is to use a humidifier.

A humidifier will put moisture back in the air and help put moisture back in your floors.

Keep your home at a 38-42% humidity level for best results. 

What if you don’t have a humidifier?

You’re in luck. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can keep a pot of boiling water on the stove. This will help raise the humidity levels in your home.

Treat the Floor with a Restoration Product

Once you have a humidifier installed, treat your floor with a restoration product.

I like the Rejuvenate All Floor Restorer because it’s easy to apply and safe for hardwood floors. It fills in scratches and adds a shiny topcoat to the floor.

Expert Advice: People often become impatient while restoring their wood floors and recommence regular use too soon. I’ve noticed that when you let the restoration product you’ve applied dry properly, it can extend the life of your wood floors considerably. After applying something like the Rejuvenate All Floor Restore, give it at least a full day to dry. Resist the temptation to hurry the process along and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful-looking floors!

To use this product, start by removing all furniture from the room. Then clean the floor. (Here’s the best way to clean your old wood floors.)

After you’ve cleaned the floor, apply the Rejuvenate with a microfiber mop. The product dries within 45 minutes but to play it safe, wait about 24 hours before bringing heavy furniture and rugs back to the room.

Call in the Professionals

If your floors are just a little dry, installing a humidifier and using a restoration product should do the trick.

If your floors are extremely dry, you need to call the professionals. 

Professional wood restorers may be able to add hydration with a new coat of poly or oil-based urethane. 

Worst case scenario, they’ll tell you your floors aren’t salvageable. But even in this case, you’ll have a concrete answer and can begin planning for the next step.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to rehydrate wood floors

How can I moisturize my wood floors?

To moisturize your wood floors, mop them with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and water. The effectiveness of this mixture will depend on how dry your floors are. Be careful not to saturate your floors – simply damp mop with the solution.

How do you get cloudiness out of hardwood floors?

If your hardwood floors look cloudy, it’s probably a build-up caused by using the wrong types of cleaners. You can get rid of this by mopping your wood floors with a half water and half vinegar solution.

Will putting water on my floor help hydrate it?

No. Even if your wood floors are dried out, mopping or dumping water on the floor is not the best solution. Instead, oversaturating your wood floors can lead to mold or mildew. Your best bet is to add moisture through the air, which you can do with a humidifier.

Expert Advice: It might be tempting to apply water directly to your wood floors to rehydrate them, but that could do more harm than good. From my experience, a far better approach is to use a mixture of natural substances for moisturizing. For example, a DIY solution of olive oil, water, and lemon juice works wonders. Not only does it hydrate the wood, it also leaves it sparkling clean and smelling fresh!

Final Thoughts

If you need to know how to rehydrate wood floors, start by bringing your humidity up to appropriate levels and see if your floors improve. If they don’t, try an easy-to-use restoration kit.

If your floors are to the point of splintering and cracking, call in the professionals. Professional floor restorers will be your best bet for salvaging your hardwoods.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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