The Best Ways to Protect Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are a highly coveted feature among house hunters and a source of pride for homeowners who have them. The warmth and elegance that hardwood lends to a space just can’t be beat. While there are many durable and less expensive flooring options out there, if you do decide to invest in hardwood, you’ll want to do your best to maintain its beauty.
Hardwood floors don’t just look impressive; they also have a quality feel to them. Unlike many harder surfaces, hardwoods are quite forgiving underfoot. They don’t have the rigid feel that laminate flooring has or the cold feel of ceramic or porcelain tiles. Of course, with that added bit of give, hardwoods require some special care.
If you have hardwood floors in your home or are thinking about installing some, you’ll want to know the best way to keep them in peak condition. While not as resistant as their harder flooring counterparts, hardwoods are fairly straightforward to care for when you know what to do. Read on to discover how to keep hardwood floors looking their best for years to come.
Know Your Finish
There are three main types of finishes for hardwood floors. Surface finishes (such as polyurethane) stay on top of the wood, offering a strong, water resistant layer of protection. To clean floors with this type of finish it is recommended that you use the manufacturer's preferred products or an all-purpose hardwood floor cleaner.
Wax finishes are absorbed into the grain of the wood. To maintain this type of finish, you can apply additional solvent-based wax when needed. There are also cleaners specifically made to care for wax finished hardwood floors. Use these products as instructed on the packaging.
The third type of hardwood finish is known as acrylic impregnated. With this type of finish the wood is injected with an acrylic substance to create a highly durable and hard finish. Cleaning floors with this finish depends on whether the finish is urethane-based or not. If it is, the floor can be cleaned in the same way as a surface finished floor. If not, follow the recommendations of the manufacturer for spraying and buffing the surface.
The best way to protect your hardwood floors is to keep tiny bits of debris off of it. Those little specks of dirt and other grime may seem harmless enough, but they can seriously scratch up your flooring. All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards. It is also recommended that you clean your floors with either a vacuum with a hardwood attachment or broom or dust mop with exploded tips, so as not to scratch your floors. Wet mops should be completely avoided as the moisture can damage the finish. For the same reason, keep in mind that spills should be wiped up as soon as they occur.
Take Extra Care
Due to the nature of real wood, hardwood floors are more susceptible to scratches and dents than harder flooring products. To help keep them in prime condition, look for ways you can protect them further, especially in higher traffic areas. Area rugs in spots that will see more use can look stylish and will aid in preventing wear.
To further protect your floors, place formats at entries and request that your guests remove their shoes. Ban
high heels and soccer cleats, as they can dent floors. Adding felt pads on the bottom of furniture can prevent scratches. If you have pets, consider keeping their toenails clipped to further avoid marks.
Hardwood floor owners are often aware that spills and tracked in water can damage the wood, but they forget about humidity in the air. Any type of moisture can be damaging to hardwoods over time. Try to keep humidity at a moderate level. That said, dryness can be damaging too, so you don’t want to go too far in the other direction.
Remember, hardwood floors are an investment. You’ll want to do what you can to keep them looking impressive. Don’t get too hung up on perfection, though. No matter how perfectly you care for them, hardwood floors will see some marks as the years go by. Just remember, these blemishes often give hardwood floors the character they’re known for.