Why You Have To Wear Socks After You've Refinished Your Hardwood Floors

Posted on: 29 April 2021

One of the instructions you'll get after hardwood floor refinishing is to stay off the floors for the first 24 hours after the work is done, and then to wear socks – no shoes, no bare feet, no slippers – for some time after that. The sock-only rule applies anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks after the refinishing work is over, depending on the work done and the caution level of the people who worked on the floors.

Given that you're allowed to walk on the floors, why the prohibition on bare feet and even soft-soled shoes? Why socks only? Those questions have a few answers that have to do with protecting both you and the floor.

Protect Your Feet From Not-Yet-Dry Spots

First, any sealant on the hardwood should dry within the first 24 hours, but just in case you have a couple of stubbornly not-dry spots, you want socks to protect your feet. Yes, slippers and soft-soled shoes would protect your feet, too, but remember there are other issues at play behind the socks-only rule.

Protect the Floor From Skin Oils

Next, your skin contains oils that you leave behind whenever you touch something. You're likely most familiar with this as those greasy fingerprints you leave behind on stainless steel appliances and window glass. Your feet leave oils behind, too, even if you think your feet are dry. The skin oils can ruin freshly refinished floors, and socks act as nice skin-oil absorbers that you can wash.

Protect the Finish From Scuffs and Scratches

So now you know why you can't go barefoot and why socks are helpful – and that leaves the prohibition on shoes and slippers. Hardwood floors, even when refinished, are prone to showing scuffs and scratches that can be caused by anything from tennis shoe soles to high heels and work boot soles. Giving the floor an extra few days after the refinishing is done lets sealants and finishes harden enough to be less prone to damage from these harder-soled shoes. Socks are nice and soft, and they won't scratch the floor.

After a couple of weeks, maybe even sooner if the floor refinishers say it's OK, you can start wearing shoes or going barefoot on that floor again. You'll find the time you spent wearing socks only when walking on that floor has helped the finish stay in great shape.