Design Ideas

Top factors that influence hardwood floor longevity

May 22, 2017
Hardwood Floors

The first step to preserving the quality and appearance of your hardwood floors is understanding what contributes to their deterioration. Hardwood floors are among the most durable, classic and versatile surfaces. The number of historic buildings and homes that maintain their original wood floors are a testament to the strength and longevity of these surfaces.

And while ensuring your floors remain unchanged for the next century may not be a top concerns, you likely want to benefit from the investment for as long as possible.

Whether you're considering a new wood floor installation or are curious about one you currently have, know that there are a range of factors that influence the longevity of your hardwood flooring.

Wood species and properties
Unsurprisingly, the quality of wood can greatly impact how long floors last before they need to be refinished, repaired or replaced. Higher grades and quality of wood - though they may be a bit pricier - offer a high return on investment because they are built to last. Some wood species have a higher hardness ratio that make them better at resisting dents and deterioration.

The type of hardwood also affects longevity. For example, according to Old House Online, premium solid hardwood has the longest lifespan and typically lasts at least 100 years. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, can range somewhere between 20 to 80 years, depending on the thickness of the floor planks.

"Wood is incredibly sensitive to environmental conditions like light and moisture."

Sun and moisture exposure
Wood is a natural material, making it incredibly sensitive to environmental conditions. Inadequate moisture or humidity levels can cause warping or shrinkage, especially with certain species and grades of hardwood. Homeowners should test the humidity and moisture content of the room and wood materials before installation. If the area is prone to humidity fluctuations, consider investing in a dehumidifier or humidifier.

Sun exposure can also impact the appearance of wood over time and may result in discoloration. To ensure that the floor doesn't suffer from uneven changes, homeowners should make use of window treatments and rugs. Periodically rearranging furniture to balance how often certain parts of the floor are exposed to the sun can be helpful. Also, simply closing the shades during the day when the sun is most intense can minimize sun damage.

Installation and maintenance
You can choose the best quality of wood out there, but if it's not installed correctly, it won't matter. Homeowners should hire a professional who knows how to properly prepare and install the wood floor. 

Whether hiring a flooring specialist, doing the job yourself or hiring a general contractor, the pay off comes in not having to deal with premature or unnecessary repairs.

Regardless of who ends up doing the installation work, it's imperative the instructions offered by the hardwood floor manufacturer are followed correctly. Most warranties don't cover complications resulting from improper installation.

Once you have the floor professionally installed, the practices used to maintain the floor will be the biggest factors influencing its longevity. 

Floors should be swept and vacuumed weekly to prevent dirt buildup. Spills should be wiped up immediately. Only use cleaning tools and techniques outlined by the manufacturer. The little time and investment it takes to ensure proper upkeep pales in comparison to the satisfaction you'll get from having floors you love for a lifetime.

To learn more about how to properly care for hardwood floors and which cleaners are safe to use, download the Anderson Hardwood Floor Care and Maintenance guide.

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