How to Maintain Wood Floors
Now that you have beautiful wood floors, you want to keep them in tip-top shape. Whether your wood floors are solid, engineered, or reclaimed wood, the general upkeep routine should be the same. Luckily, the regimen isn’t too rigorous. In fact, simple cleaning is the main ingredient for longevity of wood floors. But there are still nuances that are pivotal for maintenance, which is why we called on the experts.
Keeping debris off the floor is key. “If there’s a piece of debris on a wood floor and you walk across, it’s like sandpaper on the bottom of your shoe. It can ruin or scratch that surface.” All you need to do is sweep daily, if possible, and regularly vacuum with the hard floor setting, which turns off the brush roll to avoid scratching, or the flat attachment that will protect the floor from bristles. Strong suction is extra useful to pull up dust and debris in cracks and crevices and between planks.
Identify the Right Cleaning Product
When it comes to choosing a product for a deeper clean, there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Different finishes require different treatments, so all three experts suggest listening to the product recommendation of your flooring or finish manufacturer.
However, it is safe to say there are products to always avoid. “I don’t recommend any kind of harsh chemical to clean any hardwood floor. “Chemicals applied to the finish will create hazing. This can really build up over a period of six months to a year and doesn’t look very good, “You don’t want to use anything that says it’s going to polish or shine or rejuvenate or revitalize the wood floor. That’s basically telling you that you’re laying out something that’s a supplemental product. It’s putting something on that surface that’ll make it pretty for a short period of time, but it’s not designed to wear.”
Keep Them (Pretty) Dry
Once you’ve found the right cleaning product, use it on the floors with a damp mop. “You don’t want to bring out a wet bucket and start soaking the floors because that’ll cause the wood to swell,” says Brett. He also advises against using steam, which cleans well but allows vapor to enter small spaces and damage the floors.
Know the Warning Signs
Wood reacts dramatically to temperature and humidity, so it’s important to understand the environment that surrounds your floor. Sometimes, though, elements are out of your control, so being aware of red flags can save your wood floors. The nice thing about wood is that it’s a natural product, so it’ll tell you if it’s not happy.
If there’s too much moisture on, around, or below the wood, it will cup. Eliminate the source of the water to stop this from occurring. Exceedingly dry conditions induce gapping, cracking, and splitting. Here, a humidifier should do the trick. “Adding a little moisture to the air will allow your floor to settle back down. It’ll make it happy again.
Get in a Routine
Cleaning your hardwood floor isn’t a one-and-done deal. From rain, mud, snow and salt to leaves, dirt and more, seasonal changes come with a variety of factors that can dull your hardwood floor. It takes just a little effort to maintain hardwood floors and keep them looking great, starting with getting into a cleaning and maintenance routine. Follow a schedule and stick to it.
This is one of the most underestimated and easy steps in the process. Dust daily to keep dust and dirt off the floor. This will prevent scratches and extend the beauty and life of your floor. Daily dust mopping will significantly reduce allergens in the home. More effective than traditional methods, a microfiber material uses a static charge to attract more dust and allergens. These smaller fibers reach into floor pores to lift dirt more effectively.
Polishing helps to extend the life of your hardwood floors and adds shine. Before polishing, dust or sweep the floor to remove loose debris. You may also want to follow up with vacuuming to make sure you pick up all the dirt and dust. Use water-based polishes to restore luster and shine every two to three months. These polishes won’t leave a residue or emit harmful toxins, but they will prevent overcleaning and stripping of your floor. Durable, urethane-based polishes have fast dry times, no waxy buildup and a protective wear layer to fill in micro-scratches and even out the appearance of the floor.
Shop Floor Polish
Refinishing hardwood flooring restores the wood to its original shine and appearance. Refinishing depends somewhat on the age of the floor and the thickness. For hardwoods that are only 1/4-inch thick, refinishing could do more harm than good by stripping away the entire floor. Generally speaking, refinishing only needs to be done once every seven to 10 years.
- Regularly dust and clean your hardwood floor to keep it looking like new.
- Avoid using water and vinegar, soap-based cleaners, wax or steam cleaners on your hardwood floor. Over time, vinegar and water will dull the floor’s finish, while soap or wax will leave a residue. Steam cleaners put heat and excessive water on your floor, which can lead to cupping and long-term damage.
- Use a natural, rubber rug underlayment with a waffle pattern in entryways or high-traffic areas.
- Felt floor protectors for furniture and chair leg pads help cut down on scrapes and scuffs in the wood.
- Avoid wearing high heels, which can cause scratches or gouges in hardwood.
- Use the proper tools to clean your floor: a mop paired with a machine-washable microfiber pad for dusting and cleaning. Avoid string mops — these put excessive amounts of water on the floor, which can be damaging, and just push dirt around instead of picking it up and removing it.
- Wipe up all spills immediately to avoid permanent stains.
How to Clean Cork Floors
Cork floors have become popular as homeowners look for earth-friendly materials from sustainable sources. It’s a durable material, as tough as hardwood and laminate, but like all floors requires periodic cleaning and sealing. Here’s how to clean cork floors.
Sweep or vacuum your floor daily. Dirt and debris can scratch the floor. Use a brush attachment, not a beater bar attachment, as it can damage the finish. Clean up spills immediately, as cork is porous and will soak up liquids quickly, staining the surface. Once a week, mix a mild cleaning solution of 5 drops of liquid dish detergent and one gallon of warm water. Don’t use a stronger solution as it can cause streaking. Avoid ammonia-based products or abrasive cleaners.
Use a soft mop, not hard bristle brushes or scrubbers, to spread the cleaner. Wring out the mop after each dip in the water. Too much water can damage the floor by seeping between the tiles and making the tiles swell. When they dry, they may separate and leave gaps between the tiles. Excess water can also encourage mold to grow. You want a damp mop, not a wet one.
Don’t use a steam cleaner as it can put too much water on the floor and ruin the finish. For stubborn stains, scrub with a fine grain steel wood pad. Remember, the most import part of knowing how to clean a cork floor is not using too much water.