What's On Your Floor? 4 Ways To Tell What Type Of Finish Is On Your Wood Floor

4 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog


You bought a fixer-upper with beautiful wood flooring – at least it will be beautiful once you restore it. You want to begin refinishing it but you're not exactly sure what type of finish is on the floor. With a few simple steps, you can find out what's on your floor, which will make it much easier to restore it to its original beauty. Here's how to find out what type of finish is on your wood floor.

Polyurethane Surface Finish

If you suspect that your wood floor is coated with a protective sealant, such as a polyurethane surface finish, you need to be sure. Find a spot that's hidden – like under the cabinets or in a corner – and place a few drops of paint remover on the wood flooring. Wait for a few minutes to see if bubbles develop on the surface of the wood. If you notice bubbles, it means your wood floors are coated with a polyurethane finish. 


If your wood floor looks dull, it may be due to one of two things; the wood is unfinished or the finish will need to be cleaned and polished. You'll need to find out before you start restoring your floor. Sprinkle several drops of water on the floor. If the flooring has a finish, the water should bead up, which means you'll just need to polish the finish to restore the luster.

If the water doesn't bead up or you notice dark spots develop where the water was placed, the wood is unfinished. To prevent further damage, you'll need to apply a protective finish to your wood floor.

Wax Sealant

Wax finishes are common on wood floors. If you suspect that your wood floor has a wax finish, you can find out by testing it with water. Place a few drops of water on your floor and leave it there for at  least 15 minutes.

Wipe the water away with a soft cloth. If you notice white spots where the water was, you have a wax finish on your floor. To remove the water marks, simply buff the area with a piece of soft steel wool.


When varnish wears out, it can leave a dry, flaky film on your wood floors. To make sure you're dealing with old varnish, you can perform this quick test. Find a hidden area of room, preferably under the cabinets. Use the edge of a butter knife to scrape a small area of your floor. If the finish flakes away, your floors are coated with old varnish.

You want to restore your wood floors but you need to know what the original finish is. Use these quick tests to find out what's on your floors. 

For more information on hardwood floors, contact a company like Surplus Sales.