How To (Correctly) Care For Your Hardwood Floors

Source: iStock

The type of maintenance your hardwood floor requires will vary slightly depending on the type of finish you have and the age and overall condition of the floor. Even the newest wood flooring will need regular care to keep its surface looking its best. Hardwood floor care is, in some cases, a pretty big job at first, but the beauty and value wood floors add to a home make it more than worth the effort.

Frequent Hardwood Floor Care

No matter what kind of finish your floor has, you should develop a weekly cleaning routine to prevent problems before they start. Most minor scratches in a floor’s finish come from tracked in dirt and grit. Make sure that you’ve got a good door mat at all entrances of your home. It is a good idea to sweep, vacuum, or dust mop at least once a week (or more, if your home is subject to heavy traffic).

When spills occur, it is important to clean them as quickly as possible. Liquids pose a dual threat to hardwood, as they can stain the finish as well as warp the wood. Warping is generally a problem with standing liquid that has a chance to seep into the wood, while staining can often occur on the surface of the wood’s finish.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Preventative Measures

Moving furniture improperly can create a hardwood floor care nightmare. Never drag any piece of furniture across the floor. Furniture should always be lifted then moved in the air. Even stationary furniture can move slightly when weight is applied to it. Putting felt contacts at the bottom of furniture legs will decrease the risk of accidental scratching.

Hardwood can become discolored when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. While this isn’t a big problem in most settings, it could become one for a floor that is beneath a picture window. Blinds, sheer curtains, or an outdoor awning are all good tools for keeping exposed floors from fading.

Wax Finish

While most newer hardwood floors have a polyurethane finish, wax was commonly used to seal hardwood in the past. Wax sealed hardwood is much more susceptible to moisture damage and requires immediate attention when spills occur or the floors become heavily soiled. While it is okay to occasionally damp mop (not wet mop) a polyurethane floor that has become very dirty, wax finish floors should never be mopped.

Hardwood Floor Sanders

If the finish on your floor is extremely damaged, it may be time to refinish it. Try dropping a small amount of water on the floor; if it is absorbed immediately, your floor’s finish isn’t doing its job. In most cases, refinishing is done by a professional crew. Hardwood floor sanders are used to remove the top layer of wood as well as the remaining finish; then a sealant is applied over the newly exposed wood. For DIYs, hardwood floor sanders may be available to rent at your local home improvement center. For many homeowners, however, this is the point where a professional is hired, as the labor is intensive and the work is particularly delicate.

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