Hardwood Floor Maintenance

hardwood floorHardwood floors add immense value to the look and feel of the home as well as its worth. Well maintained hardwood floors are an investment and proper care and maintenance is essential to keep the wood looking good and functioning well. They are a major selling point for a home, so keeping them in top condition is important to its resale value. Refinishing floors can just about upkeep and retain the floors original condition, but refinishing can be very expensive. It could well be good to be aware of ways on how to avoid over asserting the condition of your flooring by being conscientious on the do’s and don’ts of hardwood floor maintenance. Finding out what type of floor you have is the start of maintenance. Each one has different properties that one should be aware of. For example, cherry is a very soft wood as compared to oak and will expand and contract with variations in humidity. The type of protective sealer that is applied will also affect how it is treated, so that type of cleaning can be determined. 

Hardwood Floor Maintenance 

DIRT AND GRIT : Vacuum/sweep wood floors frequently to keep dust and grit off of floors (use vacuum with a brush attachment – do not use vacuums with beater bars as this may cause dents). Floor mats should be placed at all exterior entrances to capture harmful dirt before it reaches the hardwood floor. Shake out, wash or vacuum mats and area rugs frequently.

HARD CLEANERS : Avoid oil soaps as they can build up and create problems when it’s time to put a maintenance coat on the floor. Use neutral pH cleaners made specifically for wood floors. A simple and inexpensive solution of 20 parts water to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle can also be used.

FURNITURE, FOOTWEAR AND PETS: Lift the furniture to move it, avoid dragging. Felt contacts stuck under the legs will help prevent scratches. Consider getting a paw sock for pets to reduce scratches from claws. Keep heels on shoes in good repair, if you walk around the house with footwear as heels with their protective cap missing or worn away exposes the steel support rod that will dent floor surface. 

HUMIDITY : Hardwood floors shrink and expand with seasonal changes in humidity. Humidity causes expansion 

and dryness brings about contraction. A humidifier may be used during drier seasons to help reduce this problem. Prolonged cycles of expansion and contraction of hardwood floor may result in squeaks. They can be easily corrected by applying liquid wax, powdered soap, talcum powder or powdered graphite between floor boards that are rubbing together. If that doesn\’t stop the squeak, drive two-inch finishing nails through pilot holes on both edges of the board then hide the hole with matching color putty or wax.

SUN : Reduce direct sun (which can discolour hardwood floor) with curtains and blinds or add sheer drapes to protect from the sun’s intense UV rays. 

WATER STAINS : Rub the spot with No. 2 steel wool and re-wax. For more serious water stains, lightly sand with fine sandpaper, clean the spot with No. 1 or 00 steel wool and mineral spirits or floor cleaner then refinish and wax. Food and beverage residue from spills can be cleaned with a damp (fully squeezed) cloth or sponge. If hardwood flooring is used in a kitchen, dry mop (with a dust mop – use a good dust mop with a 12-18 inch cotton head and spray a special dust mop treatment onto the mop head 12 to 24 hours before dust mopping) the floor after meals to pick up any water droplets. Always use an adequate area rug in front of sinks and dishwashers. Aside from protecting the flooring, the area rug will make standing at the sink more comfortable.

CIGARETTE BURNS : The burn can be removed by rubbing with steel wool moistened with soap and water (if not severe). 

Ink Stains and Other Dark Spots : Use No. 2 steel wool and floor cleaner to clean the spot and surrounding area. Thoroughly wash the affected area. If the spot remains, sand with fine sandpaper, re-wax and polish. Stubborn stains may require that you replace the affected area.

Chewing Gum and Wax Deposits : Ice until the deposit is brittle and crumbles off. Pour floor cleaner around the stain so the fluid soaks under and loosens it.

Alcohol Spots : Rub the spot with liquid or paste wax.

Repairing Wax Finishes : Use steel wood or sand paper to remove one or two complete layers of finish along the entire length of the board where damage has occurred. Remove all dust. Apply the same type of finish that was removed, being careful not to build additional layers on top of adjoining boards. Floors that receive waxes should be done in strict accordance with the wax manufacturer’s guidelines. Old wax should be removed periodically with strippers that do not contain water. If these strippers contain flammable solvents, beware of explosion or fire hazards. A new thin layer of wax should then be re-applied. Screening the hardwood floors should be done approximately every year. Lightly scuff the old finish and apply a new, single coat of finish. Done on a regular basis, the floor may never have to be re-sanded and finished. Refinishing usually has to occur if the original finish has been abused. 

Tip : Always start cleaning at the edge of a stain and work toward the center so it won\’t spread.

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