Hardwood flooring adds warmth and beauty to your home, and with proper care it will last a lifetime.
Prevention is the most important step to keeping your floors beautiful, and routine care is essential to keep the floors looking their best.
It is important to keep the floor clean and free of abrasive dirt by sweeping and vacuuming regularly. Ask your family members to remove their shoes at the door to avoid tracking in the sand and dirt. Also, avoid walking on your floors with high-heeled shoes and keep the nails of pets trimmed. In high traffic areas, it is wise to use area rugs that are backed with mesh or grid patterns to protect finishes and avoid wear and tear. And, placing mats at the exterior doors is the best way to keep much of the sand and grit out of your home.
After vacuuming, a damp mop with an approved floor cleaner will really bring the shine back to your floor. Be sure the floor’s finish is in good condition so the liquid won’t damage. Use a neutral pH wood cleaner and water, and wring the mop as dry as you can.
By placing proper floor protectors on all furniture, chairs can move easily over the floor with out scratching or scuffing, and heavier pieces won’t make indentations or damage the wood. Never drag the furniture across the wood floor, pick it up or use a dolly when moving heavy furniture or appliances. Periodically rearranging the furniture and area rugs on the floor will also help prevent the floor from discoloration. If moving the furniture is not a practical option for you, consider adding sheer drapes, or keeping the shades or curtains closed during the daylight hours.
Avoid warping of the wood by protecting the floors from water damage. Wipe up spills right away and don’t allow liquid to set on the floor as it can damage the finish or warp the wood. It is also essential to maintain an indoor relative humidity level between 45% and 65% throughout the year to minimize the expansion and contraction of the wood. A humidifier or dehumidifier may be necessary to help keep the levels within an ideal range. When selecting the type of wood for your home keep in mind that all wood moves slightly throughout the seasons and that the narrow width solid hardwoods are less prone to cupping than wider width flooring.
Preventative maintenance is the key to a long lasting floor. Homeowner’s should have their hardwood floors professionally buffed and recoated every 3-5 years, depending on the wear and tear the floor has sustained. The key is to buff and recoat the floors before they need to be totally refinished, which is a more expensive (and much dustier!) option.
When it is time for your floors to be buffed and recoated, homeowners should be careful to select a reputable, insured wood floor contractor. You will have the option to choose from two types of finishes: oil based finish and water based finish. Oil based finish is the most commonly used hardwood floor finish. It is generally applied in several coats that each take 6-8 hours to dry. Oil based finish creates an amber tone with age. Some homeowners prefer the convenience of the water based finish which dries much quicker (3-4 hours) and produces less odor. Water based finish provides a clear, non-yellowing finish which lightens the color of the wood over the years. Depending on the type of finish you select, it may be necessary to stay off the floors completely for a few days, so plan ahead, and schedule the work to be done at a time that will be convenient to your schedule.
If you take these simple steps in caring for your hardwood floor on a consistent basis, your floors will continue to add warmth and beauty to your home for many years to come.