Hardwood flooring requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best – it has a long lifespan but needs some TLC right from the start and frequently along the way. The longevity and condition of your hardwood flooring will be greatly affected by the type of stain or sealer you choose to treat it with. There are several types to choose from, resulting in different benefits, lifespans, and aesthetics. It’s important to note the difference between stain and seal, so be sure to speak with an expert to check what your floor needs. Staining can be a tricky business and some types of flooring are not made to be stained – in fact it can sometimes actually make scratches and imperfections more visible. If your floor needs to be stained, opt for a wood or stain conditioner which is designed to control penetration or to use gel stains. An alternative is to try a dye, but whatever you do ensure to speak with a professional first as the last thing you want to do is ruin your beautiful hardwood. When it comes to sealing (which helps to protect the floor) you have several options. Here are three of our favorites: 1. Varnish Our first choice is one you’ve probably heard of and it comes in a variety of different possibilities, ranging from super matte to startlingly glossy. The general rule is the higher the gloss, the more durable the varnish. 2. Polyurethane This can be either oil or water based and is one of the most popular sealers. This is a good option for high-traffic areas, but can be tough to repair and tends to darken the wood. That being said it’s very easy to clean. 3. Oil Sealer Oil sealer is a good choice if you’re intending to do the sealant job yourself. It’s easy to apply and is great at enhancing the natural shades in the wood, bringing a more natural look to flooring. It isn’t as strong as some of the other options and requires several coats every five years.