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Nothing makes a house look more like a home than opulent, shiny hardwood floors. However, many people are under the misconception that they are extremely difficult to maintain, so they cover their natural wood floors with carpeting. Keeping hardwood floors looking polished and new is actually much easier than keeping carpets fresh and clean.

If your floor has a polyurethane finish, there is no need to wax your floor. Frequent sweeping or dusting with a dust mop and a "no wax" spray product like Endust will keep them looking fresh.

If you are not sure of the floor's finish, try placing a few drops of paint remover in an inconspicuous area of the floor (perhaps behind the sofa). If the paint remover bubbles, the finish is polyurethane; if it does not, more than likely its wax.

While dust mopping the floors makes for easy maintenance, your floors will still have to be cleaned. To mop a polyurethane-coated hardwood floor, use a pH neutral cleaning product designed specifically for wood. These can be found at your local hardware store and even at your local super market. Mix the cleanser with water and when mopping your floor, wring the mop until it is nearly dry. After mopping with the cleaning solution, towel dry the floor immediately. This will alleviate water marks and bring up the shine and clarity of your floor.

In order to avoid scratches on your floors be sure to put felt pads, which can be purchased at your local "dollar store", on the bottoms of any chairs, tables, etc. that rest on the hardwood floor. This is especially important in the kitchen and dining room where chairs are often moved across the floor.

If you have to move any kind of heavy furniture across the hardwood floor, tip first one edge of the piece of furniture and place a towel under the piece, then the other end, making sure that the bottom of the piece you are moving is fully resting on the towel. Not only does this prevent scratching of the floor, it also aids in moving the piece of furniture. If you discover that there is a scratch on the floor, the easiest way to repair it is with shoe polish. Select a color closest to the color of your floor and rub the shoe polish into the scratch with a soft cloth. If you don't have any shoe polish, a crayon a or felt tip marker work as well.

A polyurethane finish can last for years with proper care and cleaning. However, once the finish starts to diminish, chip or fade, call a professional to refinish the floor. Putting a new finish on an existing floor is inexpensive and can add many years to the life of your floor and much warmth to your home!