7 Steps to Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

Floors can really take a beating—from daily foot traffic to inevitable spills and accidents. However, hardwood flooring is timeless. As such, it can be kept looking new no matter how much wear and tear it endures, as long as you take a few simple steps to maintain it and prevent damage from occurring.

The best way to maintain hardwood floors begins with smart preventive measures that help protect your floors while also cutting down on the time you’ll spend cleaning them.

Here are seven things you can do to keep you hardwood floors looking like the day they were installed.

Step Number One: Don’t Get Your Hardwood Floors Wet

Hardwoods and water don’t mix. Liquids should never stand on hardwood floors for any amount of time and water should never be poured on your floor, or you risk damaging the wood’s structure and finish. If your floor does get wet, use a soft cloth to blot spills and stains right when they happen.

Step Number Two: Consider Relative Humidity

It’s critical to maintain a range of 30 percent to 50 percent relative humidity in your home. If relative humidity becomes too wet or too dry, your floors may experience small cracks, cupping, gapping, and other issues. To maintain humidity in the summer months, try using an air conditioner, dehumidifier or periodically turning on your heating system.

Step Number Three: Use Rugs and Mats

Doormats should be placed at every entrance to your home. This can help collect dirt, sand, grit, oil, asphalt or driveway sealer from being tracked from outside onto your hardwood floors. Keep a cleaning cloth stored near the door to quickly clean up errant puddles tracked in on rainy or snowy days.

Rugs or mats should also be placed in areas prone to spills, including sinks, the oven, and in front of the refrigerator. However, mats with rubber backing can trap moisture on your hardwood floors and lead to damage; therefore, mats made of cotton are recommended.

Step Number Four: Rotate Area Rugs

Exposure from the sun can cause discoloration in your hardwood floors due to the natural oxidizing properties of wood. Periodically rotating area rugs and using window coverings can help protect your floors from the sun’s ultraviolet light.

Step Number Five: Use Furniture Protectors

Heavy objects such as furniture can create indentations and scratches on your hardwood floors. Use floor protectors, felt furniture pads or other protective pads such as gray rubber non-marking casters or fused felt casters on chair and table legs and any other furniture surfaces to minimize damage.

Step Number Six: Maintain Your Shoes

Shoes, particularly high heels that are `missing caps or worn through to the point of having exposed metal, or other abrasive surfaces can cause dents and scratches on your hardwood floors.

Also, it’s important to never walk on your floors in cleats or shoes with spikes. It’s also a good idea to store your shoes by the front door because they can track dirt and mud into the house, soiling your hardwood floors.        

Step Number Seven: Clean Your Floors the Right Way

High-traffic areas, such as the dining room and kitchen should be swept daily if possible and mopped once or twice a week. Less-trafficked areas can be mopped once a month. Here are a few dos and don’ts for cleaning your hardwood floors:

  • Do sweep, and vacuum or dust mop your hardwood flooring regularly. If vacuuming, do use a hard floor attachment to avoid scratching or dulling your floor’s finish.
  • Do clean your floors with a cleaner that is specially formulated to wipe away dirt and soil without damaging your floor’s finish.
  • Don’t use dusting products as they make your floor slippery and damage the finish.
  • Don’t use oil-based, wax, polish or strong ammoniated products, which can scratch or damage your floor’s finish.
  • Don’t use steel wool, scouring powders or other abrasive cleaners, which can scratch or damage your floor’s finish.
  • Don’t wash or wet-mop the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent, or any other liquid cleaning material. This could cause swelling, warping, delamination and joint-line separation, and void the warranty.
  • Don’t use a buffing machine.
  • Don’t use steam mops. The water vapor under pressure applied can cause wood to swell, resulting in raised edges and a peeling finish.

How Does Your Flooring Look?

With all of that stated, it may see as though hardwood floors are a little high maintenance. However, with a bit of extra caution, they are relatively easy to maintain.

If your floor does sustain damage, there’s no need to worry. Your natural flooring can likely be repaired or refinished to look like new.

If you are considering installing hardwood floors, but unsure if you want to deal with the necessary upkeep, we recommend you consider other options such as laminate or luxury vinyl tile, which are stain, scratch and water resistant, making them a little more durable.

If you need additional help deciding if hardwood floors are right for you, give us a call at 770-242-7690.