Hardwood floors are a PAIN.
First, lets put it out there. My Fiance is sometimes..
So keeping that in mind, with Life, comes accidents. By us, By Guests, contractors, etc.
When you drop something on a hardwood floor - It dents it.
When you drag a chair across it, It scuffs and scratches it.
When you spill something into the cracks of it - it stains it.
When you walk along it - It creaks and groans.
When you don't clean up the slightest dust/sand - it ruins it.
The "industry" recommends you wax/refinish your floors once or twice a year. This is HARD work, on your hands and knees. I do NOT look forward to doing this, but I think I'll be doing this sooner rather than later. Leaving it too long will permanently marr the floors and make it much more difficult to restore in the future.
But... it looks good.
Maybe our house has cheaper hardwood floors, but I've scrubbed them down with a vinegar and water solution twice since we moved, and while they look "clean" they are definitely more "worn" than when we bought the house.
Another PITA (Pain In The...) Is the fact that most people don't rip up their cabinets/closet floors when putting hard wood floors after the fact. I want my fridge and my stove to swap places, but it involves moving a bank of cupboards over by 2 inches. The project is on hold because of the crazy amount of tools/work I'll have to buy/rent/invest in, to trim the hard wood floor back 2 inches so I can slide my cupboard over. Just something to look out for when you're looking at a house with hardwood floors.
There are two different types of Hardwood floors:
Waxed, which penetrates the wood and protects it. These are typically Older (50-60 years old)
Surface Finished (polyurethane) This coats the top of the wood, and is standard for most new hardwood floors.
Helping to keep the floors clean are Entryway Carpets - One by all the doors into your house. These collect dust and grit which can help keep your floors clean. What you might want to avoid is Rubber bottomed Rugs - The rubber (or any petroleum product) can react with the polyurethane coating on your hardwood and cloud it. Often leaving a grid pattern commonly found on the bottom of "non slip" rugs.
So, keep an eye on the floors when you buy a house - They look amazing, and CAN be low maintenance, but if your dropping stuff, have Big Dogs, Younger Kids, (or a somewhat clumsy significant other)... You might want to think twice about hardwood floors, unless they're the kind that look great "weathered" and aged.
If you have any secrets to maintaining a nice looking hard wood floor, Please leave a comment!