How to Protect Hardwood Floors in Kitchen: Spill & Scratches

Hardwood floors can positively impact your home’s curb appeal unless they are stained or scratched. Keeping them in good condition is often hard work, especially if you have them installed in the kitchen. Luckily, there are ways to protect hardwood floors from spills and scratches. 

The most effective way of protecting your kitchen hardwood floors is by keeping them clean. Sweep away dust and debris at least once a day and deal with any liquid spills as quickly as possible. Area rugs and furniture pads give you alternative means for keeping your floors pristine.

Problems with Wooden Floors in Kitchen

Hardwood floors add warmth and elegant beauty to your home. They are also durable and easier to clean than carpet. However, the kitchen environment may not pair well with this flooring type. If you don’t have wood floors in your kitchen already, here are a few things to consider before installing them.

Sensitivity to moisture 

Like all wood products, hardwood is sensitive to moisture. If you live in a busy household or in one that disregards the need for dealing with spills immediately, hardwood floors may not be suitable for your kitchen.

Spills left unattended for lengths of time can soak into the wood and swell it – even though most hardwood floors installed in kitchens are coated with a waterproof sealant. 

Once the wood is soaked, it becomes subject to mold and mildew. The only way to solve the issue is by replacing the entire floor section affected by fungi, which could dig a serious hole in your budget. 

Stains are another problem closely linked to spills. The kitchen is used for cooking with a variety of ingredients that aren’t floor-friendly. These include tomatoes and tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, and oil, to name just a few.

The acidic liquids like vinegar, lemon juice, or tomato sauce can attack the floor’s finish, making it look dull and old. Oil can leave permanent stains on the wood.

Hardwood floors are prone to scratches 

Hardwood is a durable material that can last for centuries. However, it is prone to scratches. Since the kitchen is one of the highest-traffic areas in a home, you’ll have to pay constant attention to prevent scratching.

Not only will hardwood floors get scratched if you don’t sweep them often enough, but furniture can also leave unflattering marks. 

Think of chairs constantly being pulled or pushed under the table to understand how much damage your family can inflict daily. That said, you can use furniture pads and area rugs to limit the scratches. 

Scuffing and denting

While hardwood isn’t as prone to denting or scuffing as other wooden floors, furniture items with plastic or metal legs can dent or scuff your expensive floors. 

This is often the case if the furniture is often dragged across the floor, but it can also happen when installing new kitchen cabinets or moving large appliances. 

Cleaning and sanitizing issues 

Unlike tile, hardwood is harder to sanitize – something that is paramount in the kitchen. For instance, you can’t use bleach or bleach-based cleaners on your hardwood floor. Steam mopping isn’t an option either, as the high temperatures can damage the wood.

Most experts advise homeowners to use a solution made from half a cup of white vinegar and a gallon of lukewarm water to sanitize the floors, but you won’t be able to leave the solution on the floors for more than a couple of minutes.

Scrubbing grease and oil stains isn’t feasible either unless you don’t mind scratching the floor. That said, hardwood floors can be used successfully in the kitchen as long as you care for them properly. Here are a few tips and tricks to keeping them looking like new for a long time.

How to Protect Wooden Floors from Water

Water is the main enemy of hardwood floors. Moisture is responsible for swelling, staining, and mold. Here’s how to prevent water damage.

Clean liquid spills as soon as they happen 

When you have hardwood floors, dealing with spills as soon as they happen is crucial. To stay on top of things, we recommend designating a floor towel that you should keep within easy reach each time you’re cooking or eating.

Having a floor towel at hand is particularly important if you have small children who don’t understand the necessity of preventing spills. With a towel close by, you can clean any spill immediately.

Don’t go overboard with water when cleaning up messes

The best way to clean spills from hardwood floors is to soak up the liquid fast with a dry towel, preferably a microfiber one. However, there are instances when you might have to use water for proper cleaning.

For example, juice spills can leave sticky stains on the floor if you only wipe them with a dry towel. While using water is necessary in these cases, don’t go overboard with it. A damp cloth suffices; there is no need to utilize a soggy mop.

Watch your shoes 

Spills are frequent in a kitchen, just as it’s frequent to step in them. When cleaning up these messes, make sure to clean and dry the soles of your shoes, too. Otherwise, the soaked sole can stain the floors or cause more serious water damage.

Utilize mats and rugs

Using mats and rugs in the highest-traffic areas is an easy way to protect your kitchen hardwood floors from spills. 

Mats are an excellent choice for areas prone to spills and splashes, such as under the sink or your pets’ bowls. 

An area rug, ideally with a waterproof back, looks better than a rug under the dining table, and it can also add coziness to your space.

Seal the floors every few years

All hardwood floors installed in kitchens and other areas of your home should be sealed with a waterproof sealant after installation. However, the seal coat will wear down as you’re walking on the floor; that’s why you should reapply the sealant every few years.

Check your home regularly for leaks 

Lastly, make sure your plumbing is in good condition and that there are no hidden leaks. If you don’t know how to check the plumbing yourself, call in a licensed technician to look at your pipes. 

How to Protect Hardwood Floors from Furniture Scratches

After water, kitchen hardwood floors can be prone to scratches. These often happen because of furniture, like chairs, being dragged across the floor. There are ways to deal with this issue; here’s how.

Clean the floors daily 

Crumbs, dust, and debris are the main things that can scratch hardwood floors. Sweeping your kitchen floors regularly is essential to keep pests at bay, but if you have hardwood flooring in your kitchen, cleaning it daily is essential to help prevent scratches.

Use a soft microfiber cloth, Swiffer, or soft broom to sweep all dust and debris. Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner designed for hardwood floors and dry mop the floors after you sweep.

Take off your shoes 

Your street shoes can also scratch your floors, especially if you wear stilettos, spiky shoes, or cleats. That’s why you should take them off and put on slippers when you get home. In addition to preventing scratches, taking off your shoes will also help keep your entire home cleaner.

Add felt pads to chairs and furniture 

Felt pads exist for a reason: preventing furniture from scratching your floors. Get them and use them. Buy some extras, too, so you can replace any worn-out pads. 

Use area rugs 

In areas where chairs are constantly dragged, consider using an area rug. For instance, you could place a rug under the dining table and one under the stools near the kitchen island, if you have them. Put a mat or tug under the pets’ bowls, too, especially if they are made of rigid plastic or metal.

Avoid furniture with rollers 

Do you love those pull-out cabinets with rollers? They are usually narrow enough only to hold bottles and can fill up a small space beautifully – if you don’t have hardwood floors, that is. If you have hardwood floors, keep in mind that they will scratch them.

Mats and Rugs: Are they the best way to protect wood floors?

Mats and rugs are an excellent choice for protecting your hardwood floors. Models with waterproof backing can protect the floors from spills. Mats and rugs with a felt backing prevent scratches. To combine the functions, you could get waterproof mats or area rugs and place a felt pad under them so that the backing won’t scratch your floors.

Mats and rugs aside, you should also seal the floors and follow all advice above the keep them in good condition for longer.


Hardwood flooring can add sophistication to your home. The material isn’t the most popular for kitchens, but you can still enjoy hardwood floors in this environment. As long as you clean them regularly, deal with spills immediately, and use felt pads and area rugs, hardwood floors in the kitchen can look new for the years to come.

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