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In a dance studio I have a flooring from engineered wood, with top layer ~3mm ash.
After 2 years the heavily used spot looks like this: weared out
While in the corner, where there's not much traffic, it looks as new: unused

I understand that the varnish is wearing off on the edge grain.

My questions are:

  1. Should I be worried that uncovered wood would deteriorate fast, being rubbed off in a few years?
  2. How should I maintain the floor on a regular basis? Add some oil or wax when mopping it?
  3. I do like the aesthetics of the grain pattern on the surface, can I make it more prominent, applying some dark colouring maybe?
  • If you have an "off season" or shut down for a vacation, you might want to apply a coat of finish at the start of the vacation or off season (so it will have a relatively long period to cure/harden before it is used again.) If not, you might need to do that in sections, closing 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 of the floor area for recoating on a regular basis (perhaps annually.) – Ecnerwal Apr 26 '17 at 14:16
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I understand that the varnish is wearing off on the edge grain.

That's what it looks like — the finish (likely varnish but possibly not) has been worn away, allowing dirt to lodge in the recessed grain of the ash.

Should I be worried that uncovered wood would deteriorate fast, being rubbed off in a few years?

No. It presumably will deteriorate faster but not fast because ash is quite a tough wood. It would take very heavy foot traffic, in normal footwear laden with grit from outside, to wear through a few millimetres of ash in just a few years.

The entire thickness of the laminate will of course wear through in time, but I'm betting it would take decades or longer.

How should I maintain the floor on a regular basis? Add some oil or wax when mopping it?

Other than cleaning it as you would any normal wooden floor I don't know what the usual maintenance routine is for the floors in a dance studio. I do know that in many studios, and similar spaces with wooden floors, the areas that see the most use tend to look exactly like in your first photo.

I do like the aesthetics of the grain pattern on the surface, can I make it more prominent, applying some dark colouring maybe?

You would only be able to highlight the recessed grain on the unworn areas by removing the existing finish and then treating the whole floor as one Details of how you might do this would be the subject for a subsequent Question but in outline you'd strip, then colour and refinish. Although chemical stripping isn't out of the question the usual way to strip floors is by sanding them, see previous Q&A. Because this takes off a material amount of the surface laminate it shortens the lifepan of the flooring each time it's done.

As well as that at some point in the near future the high-traffic areas will again end up looking much as they do in the first image.

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  • There are wood cleaning solutions marketed as "protecting" the flooring with almond oil(!) or waxes ingredients. Do they make any sense? – Gleb Apr 28 '17 at 14:36
  • Can you please elaborate on "cleaning it as you would any normal wooden floor" – Gleb Apr 28 '17 at 14:41
  • @Gleb Well how is it currently cleaned? There are numerous ways people clean wooden floors and a few of those could work equally well, so how it's currently being done is probably fine. – Graphus Apr 28 '17 at 19:32
  • @Gleb Sorry, missed the first question. No cleaning product that contains oil should be used on a floor (or on furniture for that matter). Wax is good. – Graphus Apr 28 '17 at 19:35
  • vaccumed, mopped with clean water. – Gleb Apr 28 '17 at 20:28

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