I use a good vacuum on my hardwood floors (Miele), and a hardwood floor cleaner when I mop (Bona). Other than that, common sense will keep them beautiful- don’t drop heavy stuff, don’t spill grape juice or other stuff that stains, try not to track around sand or other grit, put slides on furniture feet if they will scratch, etc.
Your floors should last a hundred years with reasonable care.
You can put waxes and things on them to make them shiny but that also makes them slick and I have busted my ass hard from that sort of thing. As per above, you don’t have to do much at all except keep them clean. Most wooden floors can be lightly mopped with something like Murphy’s Oil Soap. That is what we do and it seems to work great. Our floors are 250 years old and don’t look a day over 10.
<hijack> What’s the general opinion on the durability of composite floors? When I eventually buy a house, I want to have wood floors, but I don’t think I can afford actual hard wood. Same question for bamboo.
Bamboo is a touch too soft for my needs, but lots of people like it. In general, a normal family should do fine with bamboo (we are not normal- we live with Newfoundlands).
As far as the “composite” floors, do you mean laminate flooring? Because some are just a s good as hardwood. We looked at some that was pretty good. In fact, the sandable surface of several laminates was exactly the same as the hardwood! The sandable surface of most wood floors is 1/4-1/2 inches IIRC, and many laminates now have that same amount of hardwood on the surface.
By composite I assume you mean veneer where a thin layer (usually less than 1/8") of wood covers a plywood base. When I installed our wood floor that is what we used. Looks great, but is only 6 mo old so I can say anything about the durability. One thing we found out quickly-our vacuum is a no-no. It scratched the floor first time. So we use a broom.
From my research there are two key considerations in wood floors: the base and the straightness. That is, you have to put something under a wood floor, at least a water vapor block. Almost always you put in a thin cushioning pad. The more attention and money you apply to the pad the better your floor will be. Shop for the pad and once you have a good one, you have a good supplier and can get the wood from there. Equally important, especially as part of installation, is to make sure the wood strips are completely straight. Even if they can be forced together, they will separate over time and squeak. We got 1/2 through our install, the remaining wood was slightly warped, and we threw away all $1000 of wood flooring and started over (the store replaced the entire shipment for free). As for care, keep grit off the floor, don’t spill anything that stains, and enjoy!