With the proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can last a lifetime. However, many consumers and cleaning professionals are either uninformed or misinformed as to how to properly care for wood flooring. Fortunately for today’s consumers, caring for wood floors requires much less effort than in the past when wax flooring was the preeminent choice. Most of today’s wood floors have a surface building finish that allows for easy care and maintenance. Regardless of the finish, style, or species, one thing remains abundantly clear – maintenance is key! A good maintenance routine that protects the finish from scratches and moisture can add years to the life of your floor.
While it’s true that cleaning methods vary based on finish types, the following general maintenance guidelines apply to all residential and commercial wood floors and finishes.
- Sweeping & Vacuuming – Use a soft bristle broom, dry dust mop, or vacuum to routinely remove the grit and grime that accumulates on the floor. Left unattended, dirt particles can work like an abrasive when trapped under footwear and scratch and de-gloss the floor. Use a vacuum that does not have a rotating beater bar, as it can damage the finish.
- Window Coverings – Wood is a natural product and thereby affected by light. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can have a dramatic effect on the exposed wood and fading or bleaching may occur. Window treatments can go a long way in helping to keep your wood’s color intact.
- Area Rugs & Floor Mats – It’s good practice to place area rugs at all entrances, pivot points, high-traffic areas, near sinks, and/or any other place where dirt or water may accumulate. Be wary of rubber backed mats and non-slip rug pads, as they can be unkind to the floor’s finish. The pattern on the non-slip mat may actually imprint onto the floor. Rugs, mats and pads with natural backings are your best bet. Keep in mind that the use of area rugs may cause shading differences in the floor due to light exposure.
- Floor Protectors – Install floor protector pads to the bottom of anything that will come in contact with the floor. This includes all furniture, baby items, large toys, etc. Never slide or drag heavy items across the floor, as wood finishes can easily scratch and mar under extreme pressure.
- Other Protective Measures – Some other ideas include keeping shoes in good repair. High heels in particular are a threat if they lose their protective cap and the nail is exposed. Obviously, all athletic cleats and spikes should be left at the door. As far as pets go, make sure their nails are clipped and trimmed regularly. Wipe spills immediately and pay close attention to the flooring around the dishwasher, refrigerator, house plants, or any other areas prone to spills or leaks. Finally, keep the temperature in-line with normal living conditions in your area, as extremes of humidity and temperature can wreak havoc on wood floors.
Adhering to these basic guidelines will go a long way in helping to protect your investment by extending the life of the hardwood floor and finish.