If you ask people what’s the most popular architectural feature they desire most for a house, chances are great that they’ll say hardwood floors. Not surprising, considering the timeless, classic, warm, inviting, and traditional look they flaunt. But just because hardwood floors have been around for literally centuries, doesn’t mean they are impervious to damage.
Like any house element, hardwood floors are also prone to damage due to time, weather, and accumulated wear and tear. This potential for damage is enhanced even more by the fact that hardwood is an organic material. Wood’s cellular structure will break down more easily than ceramic’s minerals or vinyl’s polymers, especially once moisture comes into play.
However, it is quite possible to protect hardwood floors to help retain their beauty, and today we are showing you exactly how to go about that…
There exists various options when it comes to wooden floors (including engineered wood and laminate flooring), but solid hardwood flooring is 100% natural wood from top to bottom. Apart from prefinished flooring (which comes with a factory-applied urethane-based top coating), no additives or changes have been implemented. But even so, this is purely a surface coating, and all material below the coating is natural wood sawn directly from hardwoods such as ash, maple, oak, etc.
The pros: Hardwood floors provide fabulous resale value as buyers place great emphasis on real, solid hardwood flooring in a home.
The cons: Long periods of moisture can damage solid hardwood floors.
Like any feature in your home, if you want to preserve your hardwood floors for longer, clean them! Even small particles of dust, dirt, or other debris can dent, dull, and scratch wooden floors when they are stepped on or tracked throughout the house. Thus, subject your wooden floors to regular sweeping.
In addition, never wait to clean up a spill, as it can dry up and become hard to remove (possibly leading to damaged wood when you are able to clean it up). A spill can also penetrate the wood surface and damage the boards.
Always tackle spills and leaks ASAP with a soft cloth, and always dry the floor afterwards.
We do recommend sweeping to protect hardwood floors, as the broom bristles are softer and less damaging to the surface of the wood. You are, of course, also allowed to vacuum, but make sure you are using the right attachment for your floor.
Trying to vacuum with the regular carpet attachment can scratch wooden floors. Always use the hardwood attachment on your vacuum, as it is specially designed to be gentler on wood while still tackling all that dust and dirt on the floor.
Many homeowners lovingly mop their wooden floors, unaware of the damage they are causing. Saturating a wooden floor in moisture can cause water to seep into the wood fibres, resulting in boards that swell, warp, or twist.
If your hardwood floors are in need of a good cleaning, rather use a barely-damp rag, but be sure to dry the floors immediately afterward with a towel. And never use hot water when cleaning wooden floors—lukewarm is perfect.
Although there are various cleaning products that claim to be safe for hardwood floors, many of them actually cause damage to your floors when used repeatedly, as they can strip off the finish and dull the shine of your hardwood.
Your options? Check with the manufacturer to know for sure what cleaners are safe for your floors, or contact a wood flooring professional in your area to get advice on what kind of cleaners are ideal for your home.
homify hint: Avoid cleaners that use vinegar or ammonia, as these highly acidic substances can dull or etch the floor over time. Oil soaps can create build-up on floors, which can also dull the finish on hardwood.
If you’re not keen on walking around barefoot in your home, at least pay attention to what kind of shoes you wear. Walking in high heels in your home can cause significant damage to floors, as the heels can act like tiny hammers on hardwood.
We recommend a nice basket or bench or other kind of storage space for shoes in the mud room / entryway. This is especially vital for children playing soccer or football, as cleats can damage a wooden floor just as much as high heels. Plus, they also track in a lot of dirt and muck from the field.
Got dogs or cats in your home? Always keep their nails trimmed and filed smooth to prevent their claws from dinging your wooden floors.
We also recommend placing felt pads on the bottom of chairs, sofas, and tables to help prevent scratches and scuffs when furniture is moved. Felt pads are available in stick-on versions or tap-in style.
And if you do need to move furniture around, make sure to lift it up instead of pushing it across the floor.
Laying down rugs and carpets, especially in high-traffic areas like hallways, can do wonders to help protect hardwood floors. Of course these also help with added style, colour, pattern, and a soft underfoot sensation.
Another great idea is a doormat, as it can help keep dirt, dust and other debris from being trampled indoors. It can also be a good reminder to all to stop and remove their shoes before proceeding into your home.
Regular maintenance is vital to help protect hardwood floors. Apart from regularly cleaning them, also implement a schedule to lightly sand and recoat floors with an additional layer of finish every 5 to 7 years. Wooden floors with a protective layer of wax will likely need to be stripped with a new layer of wax applied once a year or so.
This all might sound like a lot of effort, but think of how much longer your hardwood floors will remain beautiful and practical. Not to mention how they can up your home’s value should you decide to sell.
Wood? Tile? How about some lush carpets? Let’s examine The best floor options for every room.