Hardwood is still the homeowner’s favorite choice of flooring and caring for it takes minimal effort. Unlike laminate or engineered wood, hardwood can be refinished many times, and will add years of beauty and warmth to your home, as well as increase its value and speed its resale. Ongoing floor care is needed to keep your hardwood looking its best, however, and there are four major aspects of hardwood floor care:
1. Hardwood floor cleaning
2. Hardwood floor repair
3. Hardwood floor refinishing
4. Hardwood floor protection
Clean Your Hardwood Regularly
Knowing how to clean hardwood floors is important because the bane of hardwood is dirt and grit, which will scratch and mark the floor if not removed promptly. As well, dust is seen more easily on wood floors than it is on linoleum or on carpet, especially in the sunlight and especially if the floor has a dark stain. Hardwood floor care, therefore, means sweeping and dusting regularly – once a week, at least, and after any event that leaves dirt and grit behind. Regular household dusting and cleaning products will cause damage, however, and you must use only products specifically designed for hardwood. Vacuuming is preferable to sweeping because it allows the dirt and dust to be pulled from between the boards, but use a vacuum with a bare floor attachment, not a beater bar, which can damage the wood.
When a more in-depth cleaning is required, use a cleaning method appropriate to the finish on your floor. If your floor has a glossy finish, it means that polyurethane, or a water-based urethane, or a similar finish has been used to form a protective barrier over the hardwood. If it has a matte finish, it means that the floor is protected with a penetrating seal of oil and/or wax. On neither of these finishes is water an acceptable cleaning agent, but both of them can accept a surface, damp-mop cleaning, which means the mop is not wet but only damp to the touch. You are cleaning only the surface and not using enough water to penetrate even the oiled-and-waxed hardwood. When using a damp mop on oil and waxed hardwood, you can add a little neutral ph hardwood floor cleaner to the water before dipping the mop into it. A floor with a protective glossy barrier can accept a generic hardwood floor cleaner providing it doesn’t contain any wax or oil.
The don’ts are every bit as important as the do’s in hardwood floor care;
1. Don’t use ammonia, regular floor cleaners, household cleaners, or dusting products on hardwood.
2. Never use wax on a floor with a urethane or other glossy finish.
3. Never wash hardwood; use only a slightly damp mop.
Repair Any Damage to Your Floors as Soon as Possible
In most cases, when your oil and waxed hardwood floors have suffered surface damage, you have to remove the finish with a wax or oil stripper before dealing with the damage. After completing the repair, you then re-wax or re-oil the area. Surface damage occurs less often on hardwood protected by polyurethane or a similar type of sealer, and when it does, the damage is not as obvious. When repairing floors with such finishes, strip the finish from the entire board or boards where the damage has occurred. Make your repairs and then apply a finishing product to those boards that is consistent with the rest of the floor.
1. Water marks: Remove the protective finish, rub the marks with fine grade steel wool. Repeat if necessary, clean, and then refinish.
2. Burn marks: Lightly sand the area, use a damp cloth to pick up the grit, and then refinish as desired.
3. Scratches and gouges: Conceal shallow scratches with matching wood putty or a putty stick. After the area is dry, sand and refinish.
Refinishing Your Worn Hardwood Floors Will Recapture Their Original Beauty and Value
In a home with shabby hardwood floors, the biggest improvement you can make is to refinish the floors. Begin by making any necessary repairs, and then removing all the furniture and drapes and sealing the vents and registers in the room so that you won’t spread dust throughout the house. Sanding floors is easiest to do with a drum sander and an edging machine for the sides and corners of the room. You can rent these machines, and it is a good idea to rent a buffer or floor polisher at the same time. Plan to make three passes with your sanding equipment, using increasingly finer sandpaper each time. Vacuum carefully and pick up every bit of fine dust and grit with tacking cloths. All dust and dirt must be removed. You can now apply a stain if you wish or you can leave the natural color and design of the wood – such as the popular oak, maple, or cherry – to be displayed.
Polish and clean the dust and dirt from the floor again, and then apply your sealer – a polyurethane or a water-based urethane that provides a protective barrier, or oil and wax, which penetrates the wood and protects from within. Carefully read all the information accompanying each product, follow the safety advice, and apply as many coats of stain or sealer as suggested by the manufacturer of the products you are using.
Hardwood Floor Care Means Providing Ongoing Floor Protection
As well as regular cleaning, and repairing and refinishing when necessary, there are a number of protective measures you can take to preserve the beauty of your hardwood:
1. Use area rugs and mats in high traffic areas and sites of frequent spills (e.g., in front of the stove, sink, and refrigerator). Move these rugs frequently so that these areas of the floor remain the same color as the exposed floor. As well, it is best to choose cotton mats as they do not trap water under them as rubber or vinyl might.
2. Keep high-heeled shoes in good repair and avoid using stiletto heels.
3. Keep nails trimmed on pets.
4. Clean up spills immediately with a paper towel or dry cloth. A damp cloth can be used for sticky spills, but dry the spot immediately afterwards with another towel or cloth.
5. Lift rather than drag furniture when moving it and use felt contacts under furniture legs to prevent scratches and gouges.
6. Use sheers or blinds to protect your floors from the discoloration caused by direct sun rays.
With proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floors will retain their beauty and enhance any décor that you choose. When your floors become worn, or if they become damaged, they can be restored to their former glory with a little time, effort, and money. Use the Internet to check out quality products, read the information on how to use them, compare prices, and place your orders. We can help with all your hardwood floor care needs – everything from discount hardwood flooring to hardwood cleaners – and all items can be purchased online and delivered to your door. Let us help you keep your hardwood floors looking their best.