It's a rare homeowner who doesn't gravitate to the warm and alluring look of hardwood floors. It's also a rare homeowner who doesn't initially harbor the notion that they're difficult to maintain and so is tempted to turn to tile or carpet instead.
It's a paradox, alright: hardwood floors appear sturdy and vulnerable at the same time. But maintaining them and keeping them looking shiny and new is probably far simpler than you think – and so are worth considering as a beautiful and low-maintenance floor in your home.
Experts In Your Home's flooring experts have culled more than 60 years of experience in installing wood floors with advice from top wood flooring manufacturers, the Wood Floor Covering Association and the National Wood Flooring Association to impart the best wood flooring maintenance tips we can to our customers. We present them here so that before you take a single step on a wood floor, you can take three basic steps with regard to prevention, cleaning and avoidance.
Take Preventative Steps
- Place throw rugs at doors and runners along high-traffic areas to track dirt and prevent scratching. Kitchen rugs near the sink and dishwasher can help absorb water spills, which can corrode wood floors. Avoid rubber-backed products because they can damage wood flooring, the Wood Floor Covering Association says. Shake out or vacuum the rugs and runners regularly to keep them clean.
- Put stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scratching and scuffing. Replace the protectors periodically since embedded dirt can create a “sandpaper effect” that can mar a wood floor.
- Be mindful that direct sunlight can cause your wood floor to fade and even splinter. Depending on your home's exposure, consider protective window treatments and rearrange rugs and furniture periodically to help your floor age consistently.
- Run a humidifier during cooler weather to prevent wood shrinkage and warping. Try to keep your indoor humidity level between 35 and 55 percent.
Take Proactive Cleaning Steps
- Purchase two vital cleaning tools: a dry microfiber mop or a high quality, soft-bristle broom and a vacuum without a beater bar. Use the former daily and the latter about once a week to remove dirt, dust and food particles between floor boards. These elements pose the greatest threat to your wood floor since they act like sandpaper in rubbing against, scratching and gradually degrading the finish of a wood floor. With these two tools at your side, you can provide most of the maintenance your floor needs, with a deeper cleaning necessary only periodically. “The better care you take, the longer your floor will maintain its original beauty,” the Wood Floor Covering Association says.
- Wipe up spills immediately with a dry cloth.
Take Avoidance Steps
- Never use abrasive cleaning aids such as steel wool, scouring pads and scouring powders and products containing lemon, citrus or tung oil. Even the water from a wet mop can damage a wood floor. Water that is left to accumulate is the worst protagonist of all since it can cause wood to crack, splinter and otherwise deteriorate.
- Avoid walking on wood floors with sharp high heels or sports cleats. Even a 125-pound woman wearing high heels can exert up to 8,000 pounds of pressure on a wood floor, potentially resulting in dents, says the National Wood Flooring Association.
- Keep your pet’s nails trimmed and their paws clean.
- Pick up and move, rather than slide, heavy furniture across wood floors to avoid making scratches and dings.
Despite your best efforts to care for your wood floor, accidents do happen. If you encounter one, try not to panic. Our flooring experts have repaired and restored dozens of wood floors – and we can get to work on yours as soon as you contact us for a consultation.