Who doesn’t love a picture-perfect, shiny, cozy hardwood floor? But keeping hardwood floors shining and strong isn’t a task to be taken lightly. Seasonal changes, furniture, dust, cleaners, and even our four-legged family members can damage hardwood floors. Despite all the upkeep, the stunning look of hardwood makes it worth it in the end.
Let’s get into how to maintain wood floors to keep them looking new for years to come.
Table of Contents
How to Maintain Wood Floors
Set a Cleaning Routine
Maintaining and caring for your wood flooring is not a one-and-done deal. Some are daily maintenance, such as keeping dust and debris off the floor, while some are more seasonal care. The best way to tackle all the “enemies” of wood is to get into a cleaning and care routine. Follow a schedule that suits your lifestyle. The best clean routine would be the one that you can actually keep up with. Stick to it, and caring for your floor will be a breeze.
Sweep or Dust Daily
This might sound excessive and overwhelming, but this is the most crucial step. Dust and dirt build up over time and become harder to clean up. Additionally, stepping on dust particles can scratch up the surface of the wood and damage the finish. So, we recommend sweeping the floor daily, or at least the high traffic areas. Although a regular broom with soft bristles is sufficient for daily dusting, using a dry microfiber mop will leave the floor cleaner.
Clean Up Spills Immediately
Nothing damages wood floors more than a puddle of water sitting on it, as it can soak up the liquid and swell. Spills are inevitable. But as long as you clean up spills immediately, your hardwood should be fine. Use a dry or damp cloth to clean up any spills and let the area dry completely. Avoid using wet or steam mops, which can damage the hardwood. You can use a fan to dry the floor faster or wipe it dry using a clean cloth for a more severe spilling accident.
Use Furniture Pads
If you have a shiny finish on your floor, odds are you have already started to notice scratches and scuffs all over the floor. While you cannot prevent scratches altogether, you can absolutely minimize them. One of the biggest sources of scratches on hardwood is the edges of your furniture. Use furniture pads under all of the pieces. Additionally, you should never drag furniture across the floor. You can lift the furniture if it is light enough to move it. For heavier pieces, use a dolly to move them.
As much as we all hate this part, weekly vacuuming will get all the dust and debris off the floor, even those you cannot reach by sweeping. However, make sure your vacuum does not have a beater bar or rotary brush. Otherwise, it will scratch up the wood surface. You can also invest in a Roomba and leave the task to your robot helping hand.
Use Wood Safe Cleaners Only
Depending on how much dirt and debris build up on your floor, you need to mop your floors weekly or every few weeks using a safe wood cleaner. Knowing the right way to clean hardwood floors is crucial as you can cause severe damage if you use the wrong tool or the wrong products. You should also check whether your hardwood floor is finished or not and also your specific type of finish and its specific care.
For the best mopping result on your hardwood floor, keep five key things in mind –
- Use a damp mop, not wet
- Use a flat microfiber mop or microfiber twist mop
- Mop in an “S” pattern
- Dry the floor quickly by either using a ceiling fan or microfiber cloth
- Mop along the grain of the wood
Experts recommend avoiding hard chemicals to clean any hardwood floors as they can create hazing. Also, avoid anything that says it will polish, shine, rejuvenate, or revitalize the wood floor. These will only create unnecessary product build-up when used too often and make the wood floor look cloudy after a few months. Avoid straight ammonia, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners, as they dull and damage the surface.
With time, your hardwood finish wears off from cleaning or abrasion from shoes and furniture. Polishing the floor at a regular interval extends your hardwood’s life and rejuvenates the shine. Use a water-based finish every two or three months. You might need to polish the low-traffic areas less often. Good quality polishes won’t leave any waxy residue or contain harmful toxins. Clean the floors well before using a mop or a vacuum cleaner, and make sure there is no debris left before applying the polish.
Refinish Every 3-5 Years
How often you need to refinish wood floors depends on multiple factors such as foot traffic, cleaning frequency, cleaner, etc. It also depends on the age of the floor and the thickness of the wood. For hardwood with a thickness of less than ¼ of an inch, refinishing can do more harm than good by stripping away the entire wood. We recommend contacting a professional for a refinishing job if you don’t have the required expertise.
For the finish itself, you get different options for different wood species and finish types (e.g., matte, shiny, satin, etc.). If you are looking for a robust finish, polyurethane is one of the most durable and preferred hardwood finishes. You have two choices in polyurethane finish – water-based and oil-based. For maximum protection, water-based polyurethane is the best option.
Dog Proof Hardwood Floors (If needed)
Dogs can damage hardwood floors in two main ways — either by having a little mishap on the floor or scratching the surface with their nails. The first one is not very concerning if you have a moisture-resistant seal and clean up immediately. However, the second one can damage the top layer of hardwood or even chip the wood. Hence, you need to dog-proof your hardwood floors.
The most important part of dog-proofing a hardwood floor is picking the right hardwood and the right finish. Training your dog not to damage the hardwood and keeping their nails trimmed can also help protect the floors. You can also utilize tools like rugs, dog gates, or even touch-up kits to minimize your pet’s impact on the hardwood floor.
Use a Humidifier
Whether or not your hardwood needs a humidifier depends on your climate and indoor humidity level. One thing to keep in mind about wood is that it is hygroscopic and behaves similarly to our skin. Meaning, that in a humid environment, it absorbs moisture from its surroundings and, on the contrary, loses moisture in a dry environment.
A humidifier can protect your hardwood floor from low humidity if you live in a dry or cold environment. Indoor humidity levels below 35% can create gaps in your hardwood floor and even cause it to split. A humidifier can help protect hardwood from seasonal humidity fluctuations.
Rugs are an excellent tool that can make hardwood floors more manageable while adding to the aesthetics. Placing rugs in high-traffic areas protects the hardwood finish from scratches and abrasions. You can also place rugs under heavy furniture to minimize the impact on the floor.
Good quality rugs trap dust and other particles, leaving the floor cleaner. Another excellent use for carpets is protecting hardwood from UV rays, which can fade hardwood over time. Consider placing rugs on areas that get direct sunlight to prevent UV-caused damage.
What do you do to maintain wood floors? We would love to hear! Comment below and let us know.