Maintaining the Luster of Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are popular with homeowners because wood floors are beautiful, durable and stylish. The warm glow of a well-maintained wood floor adds an ambience to a room that is difficult for other types of flooring to match. Wood can enhance the value of a home and rarely needs replaced when cared for properly. In spite of these attributes, some homeowners shy away from wood floors because they have heard that wood is difficult to keep clean or that it is time-consuming to maintain in top condition.

When people talk about maintaining a hardwood floor, they are most often referring to the finish that is applied to the wood and not the wood itself. Unlike the messy waxes and varnishes of the distant past, today’s finishes are easier to apply and harder to damage. When a wood floor is scratched or loses its luster, typically only the finish is involved. Rarely is the wood itself damaged by routine wear, as the finish protects the wood from all but the most aggressive scratches. The good news is that establishing a simple cleaning routine and following some basic care tips can keep a hardwood floor lustrous with minimal fuss.

Dust is the Enemy

All types of floors can be soiled by whatever gets tracked in, but the polished surface of a hardwood floor does have a tendency to show dirt and dust more readily. This is actually a good thing, as visible dust can be easily removed before it has a chance to damage the finish. Cleaning high-traffic areas daily or as needed will help prevent a dulling of the sheen, and such cleaning need not be burdensome. A simple swipe with a microfiber dry mop can sweep up dust, dirt and debris before it scratches the finish or spreads to the rest of the house.

Dust mop the entire floor weekly, or use a vacuum on the setting for bare floors. Be certain when using a vacuum that the beater bars for carpet cleaning are turned off or you risk rapidly scuffing the finish.

Use a Wet Mop Sparingly

Mopping with water or other liquid cleaners is not typically recommended for hardwood floors. Liquids can dull the finish and even damage the wood if not completely picked up. Don’t use products made for tile or laminate floors. Always use cleaners specifically formulated for use on wood floors, as these products contain ingredients to help them dry rapidly without dulling the finish. Liquid spills should be wiped up as quickly as possible. Never use a carpet cleaning machine or steam mop on your hardwood floor, as forcing water into the wood can cause it to warp and buckle.

Measures to Avoid Scratching the Wood

Beyond simple day-to-day maintenance, there are a few things you can do to prevent scratches to your wood floor that might cause it to require refinishing:

Leave shoes at the door.

While it is not always practical or desireable to go barefoot around the house, tracked-in dirt can be reduced if outdoor shoes are left at the door in favor of indoor slippers or socks.

Use mats at entryways.

Outdoor mats will help remove heavy dirt and debris from shoes, while throw rugs inside doorways will further reduce dirt and the need to sweep it up. Remember that dirt trapped in throw rugs can become its own source of trouble if allowed to accumulate, so wash rugs and clean under them regularly. Walk-off mats are a good idea in pet areas, such as next to pet beds where nails can scratch when jumping in and out or near litter boxes where litter can be tracked onto the floor. The more dirt and debris you catch before it hits the wood, the less you have to worry about it damaging the finish.

Protect your floors from furniture.

Stick-on protectors, often made of felt, placed under the feet of furniture will reduce the likelihood of scraping. When moving large pieces of furniture, either carry the items to their new location or use protectors designed to go under furniture feet that make the pieces slide easily across the floor. Area rugs under tables and chairs can offer protection for the floor and provide a decor opportunity as well.

Get professional assistance.

Wood floors are very durable and simple to maintain with regular cleaning and common-sense management, but over time even well-maintained floors may need help being brought back to their original luster. If your wood floors have seen enough wear to need more than routine care, call the professionals at On The Spot at (804) 897-1620. On The Spot is your total flooring solution.

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