Your home’s flooring is one of the fundamental design elements that give your entire home a refined look. In addition to that, it’s among the few design elements that serve your space for a very long time. One type of flooring that has gained a worldwide reputation among most homeowners is hardwood flooring. Not only is it a healthy alternative to carpets, but this type of flooring is also considered the best as it gives your home a glamorous look while still maintaining its warm, durable, and lasting appeal. While most homeowners are definitely convinced about the many benefits of installing this type of flooring, one proposition most of them are yet to answer is how to maintain hardwood floors.
You see, hardwood floors are considered to be way better than wall-to-wall carpets. But, despite all that, these floorings need to be well-maintained to preserve their beauty and lustrous looks. According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), hardwood floors need to be swept and dusted daily, vacuumed weekly, cleaned using commercial or natural products monthly, and finally, sanded and polished with a maintenance coat at least once every few years. But, since every home varies depending on the level of foot traffic as well as the number of kids and pets available, this short guide has gathered every bit of information from flooring experts to help you understand how you’re supposed to maintain your hardwood floor to maintain its glamorous looks.
How to Maintain Hardwood Floors: Step by Step Guide
But, Which Type of Flooring Do You Have?
Before you start your daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly hardwood maintenance schedule, there are two things you need to keep in mind. One is the type of hardwood floor you’ve installed and the second one is the type of finish you’ve applied to your wood. The most popular hardwood flooring you’ll find in most homes are solid, engineered, laminate, and vinyl hardwood floors. When it comes to the finish, most people usually seal their floors with polyurethane, polyacrylic urethane finish, or basically paste wax finish.
With such credible information at your disposal, it’s highly recommended that you consult your floor’s maintenance instructions before you commence any maintenance action. This way, you won’t end up damaging your flooring nor will you void its warranty by any means. So, with that point in mind, let’s begin our step-by-step floor maintenance schedule.
1. Clean Up Spills Immediately
Hardwood floors are considered way better than wall-to-wall carpets. While they’re known to offer a significant amount of protection against scratches and wear, one of the major culprits that can cause irreversible damage to your flooring is allowing pools of water to sit on the surface for too long. In the case of solid and engineered hardwood floors, allowing spills to sit for long on the surface can cause them to get absorbed inside the wooden planks causing the floor to warp, expand, and swell.
This eventually causes the wood to cup, gap, and split resulting in permanent damage. So, to avoid this type of irreversible damage, always consider cleaning your floor immediately you notice any spills. In case of sticky spills, always use a damp cloth to clean them then wipe the floor immediately to get rid of any wetness.
Additionally, you should stick to cleaning products that are strictly formulated for cleaning hardwood floors. Cleaners that contain ammonia, wax, solvents, vinegar, bleach, detergents, and polishes must be avoided at all costs as they can cause significant damage to your hardwood floor. Lastly, maintain a steady temperature of 60° to 80° F with a humidity rating of 30 to 50%.
2. Clean the Floor Appropriately
If you want your hardwood floor to maintain its lustrous look for a long, then it needs to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. By cleaning it appropriately, you’ll manage to get rid of food, liquids, stains, and other contaminants that have fallen on the floor. And since these floors greatly differ depending on the type of wood and type of polish used, cleaning them will definitely require you to employ a myriad of techniques. Here, we’ll discuss each floor and how you’re supposed to clean it.
- Solid and Engineered Flooring:
In the case of solid and engineered hardwood floors, a daily cleaning routine will involve the use of dry microfiber cloth or microfiber mop to get rid of light debris, dust, and food particles from the floor.
In case of weekly or monthly deep cleaning, use a vacuum with soft floor attachments and vacuum heads designed for hardwood floors to avoid scratching your floor. Lastly, use floor cleaners that contain 100% natural ingredients. They should be pH neutral and should not contain any harsh chemicals that can damage your floor.
- Vinyl and Laminate Flooring:
Both vinyl and laminate are considered to be a bit delicate as compared to solid and engineered floors. Since they can be irreversibly damaged by moisture and sharp objects, maximum care must be observed when cleaning them. For that reason, these floorings require gentle cleaning using a microfiber dust mop to remove dust, dirt, and food debris.
In case of deep cleaning, you need to consider using a pH neutral gentle cleaner that doesn’t contain any ammonia, vinegar, and wax-based cleaning agents. Lastly, you need to avoid using steel wool or any sharp materials to remove sticky stains as this can damage the surface of the floor. In case you’re in doubt, ensure that you consult the instructions manual on the type of tools and cleaning agents you’ll need to use.
3. Use Furniture Pads
If you’re dealing with vinyl and laminate floors, extreme care will have to be observed to ensure the surface isn’t scratched. One way you can guarantee maximum protection of your hardwood flooring is to use furniture pads or stick-on felt protectors on the legs of your heavy furniture. At least this way, you’ll manage to protect your floor against regular scratches that might occur when you drag your furniture across the room.
4. Protect Your Floor Against Minor and Major Scratches
When it comes to scratching, laminate and vinyl floors are usually the most affected as they tend to have soft delicate surfaces. Solid and engineered hardwood floors are less susceptible to scratching issues though you must be mindful with the polish as it can reveal some significant amount of wear which can ruin its appearance.
So, to protect your flooring against scratching, you need to practice a couple of things. One of them is to have a strict policy of leaving high-heeled shoes outside when getting inside the house. Also, those wearing hard-soled shoes should leave them outside and instead wear slippers while in the house. This way, you’ll successfully manage to protect your floor against scratches, scuffs, and dents that might be left behind by such shoes.
Additionally, you should ensure that you keep a close eye on your pets’ paws and claws to ensure they’re well-groomed. In case the claws are dangerously long, you can consider trimming them a bit just to be sure they’re not capable of scratching your floor’s surface.
5. Place Protective Mats and Rugs on the Floor
For homeowners always on the go, sometimes it can be too difficult to maintain your hardwood floor especially if you live all by yourself. In such a case, you can consider placing mats and rugs on specific points such as high traffic areas. You can also position mats and rugs on the exterior doors where visitors can wipe their shoes on before getting inside.
At least by having mats, you’ll manage to protect your floor against small debris such as sand particles that can scratch your hardwood floor and cause damage. Additionally, in case it’s raining outside, the rugs can help to dry your shoes before getting inside the house preventing you from leaving wet footprints behind.
6. Refinish Your Floor Before It’s Late
After regular wiping and mopping of your floor, the last thing you need to do in your maintenance schedule is to polish the floor every 3 to 5 years to bring its former looks and luster back to life. But, recoating the surface of your hardwood floor is not as easy as it sounds. You need to consult your hardwood floor manufacturer about the type of polish used on the floor for you to determine what exactly you’ll need to use.
For instance, if your hardwood floor has a waterproof protective finish, then it will need to be polished while those with a penetrating finish will need to be waxed. With this information at your disposal, you’ll be able to select the right polish or wax that will suit your specific hardwood floor.
As you can see, taking care of your hardwood flooring is not as complex as it sounds. No matter the type of hardwood floor you’ve got, keeping it in pristine condition simply goes down to following a simple routine of just mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming the floor regularly. Additionally, you should look for environmentally-friendly and eco-sustainable cleaning solutions such as biodegradable plant-based ingredients over chemical-based detergents to clean the floor.
Lastly, if your floor encounters a lot of foot traffic, you can safeguard the hardwood floor by placing mats, rugs, and furniture protection pads to protect the surface from spills, dents, scuffs, and scratches.