7 Tips On Maintaining Hardwood Floors
It isn't fantastically difficult to learn how to maintain hardwood floors. They require some care, to be sure, but if you're consistent they don't require as much care as carpet and will last much, much longer.
Generally speaking, you're looking to avoid damaging your flooring through abrasion, humidity and/or water damage, and also chemical damage through the use of cleaners.
Here are 7 tips for maintaining hardwood floors. Follow these tips, and your flooring should stay in great shape for years to come.
Wipe Up All Spills Immediately
One of the first things to learn in how to maintain hardwood floors is that any spills or other liquid should be wiped, sopped or otherwise cleaned up immediately. The longer any liquid sits, the greater the chances it will soak into the pores of the wood, even if sealed.
You also may want to follow up with a floor-specific cleaner, which is specially formulated to clean up hardwood, laminate or vinyl floors. These have been developed to specifically clean hardwood flooring, so they are a must.
Sweeping and/or vacuuming often is a good step, but be sure to only use vacuums designed for use on bare floors. Any vacuum cleaner with a beater bar should be avoided.
Screen And Recoat Every Few Years, Sand And Refinish After A Few Recoats
Every few years, the top layer of finish is going to obviously look worn. At that point, you'll need to screen and recoat the boards. Screening for wood floors uses a firm mesh with an abrasive coating which is less abrasive than sandpaper. For instance, a 120-grit screen will be appropriate for use on floors every few years, but 120-grit sandpaper is only for a total stripping and refinishing. A screen removes the top layer of the protective coating, which you then re-coat.
After a few screen and recoat cycles, you'll want to actually sand and refinish the floors.
How often you'll need to screen and recoat, and also how long between full refinishing, depends on the wear on the floors. Generally, you'll know when it's time by the appearance, but expect to sand and recoat every two to five years, and to strip and refinish about every ten to fifteen years.
Use A Humidifier
Guitarists and collectors that have rare, vintage or otherwise very valuable instruments will often store and transport them in humidifier cases. This is to prevent swelling and shrinking due to fluctuating temperatures and humidity. The wood will swell and shrink, which can lead to warping.
Hardwood floors can do likewise, as they are also made from wood. Therefore, a best practice is to employ a humidifier in your home, especially during the winter or during other dry parts of the year. In areas of high heat and humidity, a dehumidifer is also a good tool to have. These will reduce swelling and shrinkage and ensure a longer life for your floors.
Avoid Wet Mopping
As a corollary to getting spills and other liquids up quickly, avoid wet mopping your hardwood floors. Though a good sealant can work wonders, do everything you can to avoid subjecting your flooring to moisture. Wet mopping, damp mopping...any type of wet cleaning.
Get any liquid off the floors by sopping - rather than wiping - liquids with paper towels, cloth towels, a dry sponge or other means. A soft cloth is best. If necessary, use a hardwood floor cleaner.
It also doesn't hurt to employ experts in hardwood floor care, such as Black Forest Floors and our hardwood floor care services.
Don't Wear Heeled Shoes And Clip Pet Nails
Two of the usual suspects when it comes to hardwood floor damage are heeled shoes and pets. To guard against them, avoid wearing damage-heel or high-heeled shoes on your hardwood floors. While they may be fashionable or necessary elsewhere, they will also dig into the wood and damage your flooring.
The same is true for pet nails. Keeping them trimmed may be good in an overall sense for you and your pet - after all, a black bear needs claws but your terrier...less so - but will also help safeguard your floors.
You'll also want to put furniture on soft pads to avoid denting or scratching the floor.
Only Clean Using Soft Cloths And Dedicated Cleaning Formulas
When it comes to cleaning your hardwood floors, there a few definite "don'ts" that you need to be aware of. First, no wet mopping. Second, never clean with scour pads, steel wool, or any other abrasive cleaning implement. Clean with soft cloths or another implement.
You want to look into non-abrasive cleaning methods for any instance. For instance, gum or waxes that fall on the floor should not be scraped away. Instead, freeze them using ice then gently pry away.
You're also going to want to avoid using any cleaning products other than those designed specifically for hardwood floors. Oil soaps, liquid or paste waxes both can be harmful hardwood floors and their finish. So can those containing lemon, citrus or tung oil, and products containing silicon. While such compounds have applications that they are suited for, hardwood floors are not their ideal use as they can mar the finish.
Floor Mats And A Shoes Off-Policy Help
Another great tip on how to maintain hardwood floors has to do with shoes. Specifically, what they track in. What you and other people get on the bottom of their shoes will get tracked into your house and on your floors. Everyday debris will need extra cleaning and if your area gets a lot of snow...you could be looking at water damage.
Having some floor mats at entrances can make a big difference, as cleaning the bottom of your shoes as you come in can make a big difference. Want to make an even bigger difference? Try a shoes-off policy in your home, with you and guests removing shoes as they enter the home. That will help keep your floors in pristine condition for much longer.