Your wood floors do a lot for you. They are the strong foundation that keeps your home looking cozy while simultaneously enduring the weight of heavy objects and furniture, frequent traffic and general wear and tear. However, to prolong their life and keep the surfaces looking new, proper maintenance is critical.
The good news is that, if handled correctly, you don't need to do much ensure adequate protection and preservation. The key is making sure you apply the right methods and products designed for wood floors. Below are some tips to help you properly care for your hardwood flooring:
As with any material, wood is subject to eventual deterioration. To prevent premature aging, don't let dirt accumulate. Too much buildup can make the floors look tarnished, and the debris can chip away at the finish. Wet or damp mops, cleaning machines or steam cleaners should never be used. Sweeping should be done with either a dry microfiber mop or a broom with soft bristles. Also, only use vacuums that have a brush or felt type head - never a beater bar.
To prevent scratching, wipe down the vacuum wheels before each use. It may also be helpful to adhere to the maintenance schedule set forth by the National Wood Flooring Association: daily sweeping, weekly vacuuming and monthly cleaning with a wood floor cleaning product. Once every three to five years, a new maintenance coat should be applied. Sand and refinish wood floors once every few decades.
"Not all floors are created equally, nor are their cleaning products."
Choose the right products
Not all wood floors, or wood floor cleaning products, are created equal. Choose cleaners that are compatible with the type of wood your floor is, as well as the adhesives and finishes they feature. There are a handful of products and chemicals you want to avoid using on hardwood floors, including oil soaps, liquid or paste wax, silicon and ammonia. Two-in-one cleaners with acrylic or utherane polish can also damage the surface of your wood flooring.
Vacuum before using any type of cleaner. Check with your floor's manufacturer to see which products they recommended.
Minimize sunlight exposure and humidity
Hardwood floors are a natural material, so some fading overtime is inevitable. However, to stall the process and sustain the original appearance of your wood floors, reduce their exposure to natural sunlight, since UV rays expedite the oxidation and aging of wood. Certain exotic species of wood, such as Brazilian Cherry, are especially sensitive to this occurrence.
To minimize fading:
Also, according to Real Simple, the ideal temperature for wood floors is generally somewhere between 60 degrees and 80 degrees. The recommended humidity level is between 35 percent and 55 percent. If humidity levels get extremely low or high for an extended period of time, it can cause plank shrinking and surface checking. Certain species of wood, such as Pecan and Hickory, are particularly susceptible to this. To prevent warping or cracking due to fluctuations in humidity levels, consider using a dehumidifier or humidifier.
General maintenance and tips
At the end of the day, much of hardwood floor maintenance centers on preventative care. If you have pets, make sure their nails are always trimmed and paws cleaned. Tend to spills with a damp cloth as soon as they happen, use rugs in entryways, hallways and other high-traffic areas, and put sticky pads on your furniture legs to prevent scuffing.
Also, while it would certainly be helpful to have everyone in the family take off their shoes before entering the house, it's not always realistic. Instead, try to limit which footwear is allowed on the hardwood floors (high heels and cleats are huge no-nos).
To learn more about how to properly care for hardwood floors and which cleaners are safe to use, download Anderson Hardwoods Floor Care and Maintenance guide.