If you have wood floors in your home, it’s vital that you care for and maintain them – and show them off. Properly maintained floors last longer and are less difficult to restore should damage ever occur. It’s the same principle as garden maintenance: If you regularly water, pull weeds, prune, fertilize, and replant, you’ll save yourself work in the long run.
Wood comes with its own specific user manual. No harsh cleaning products or haphazard efforts will do – wood calls for higher standards. Make it a priority to protect your floor’s natural shine, character, and quality; when it’s time to sell your home, you’ll be glad you did. Homeowners who abuse or neglect their hardwood floors, on the other hand, will live to regret it, especially when they see how highly the majority of homebuyers value real hardwood.
Caring for Hardwood Flooring
As Kadee Macey, the “sander rental goddess” of Pete’s Hardwood Floors, will tell you, there’s something incredibly satisfying about spiffing up hardwood floors. Perhaps it’s the same principle as waxing a new car, or taking a diamond ring to the jeweler on a regular basis so it never loses its sparkle. Whatever motivates you, real, true-blue hardwood flooring is an asset to be downright proud of.
For a homeowner embarking on a “save-the-floor” mission – whether their home’s going on the market or they’ve simply awakened to the importance of hardwood floor care – here are 10 essential tips to follow, today and until the hardwood floors are in someone else’s care.
10 Tips to Prolong and Accentuate the Beauty of Hardwoods
- Keep liquid at bay. This means no mopping, no matter how tempted you are. To give the room a good clean, there are other methods! If you have a leaky ceiling, flooding issues, or water spills, you want to clean them up as fast as possible to prevent distorting or discoloring the wood. Rugs will trap water longer, so do not leave damp or wet rugs on the floor. The purpose of polyurethane, besides adding shine, is to protect your floor from moisture. If you use this type of floor finish, the surface will be shielded from minimal liquid damage, but don’t risk it by leaving the liquid unattended for too long.
- Put floor protectors on all furniture. If any furniture could move and scratch the floor, use a floor protector! Desk chairs with those hard plastic castors are the worst. Also, table legs, sofas, and any item capable of inflicting damage should be shielded. Floor protectors come in adhesive self-stick varieties of felt, or you can use soft polyurethane castors to replace the hard plastic ones. Remember that stiletto heels have the same effect – so remove these before you prance across the floor.
- Lay down rugs. This is a nice way to protect the floor and add warmth to a room. Latex or rubber rug pads will keep them from sliding around. It’s especially important to put rugs in areas that receive a lot of foot traffic, especially near entrances.
- Move gently and with care. Gouges and scrapes are inevitable, but the deeper they are, the harder they are to sand out later on. If you’re moving furniture or dealing with any heavy items that you could drop, simply show care. Unlike carpeted floors, hardwood floors will take a beating and show it too.
- If you must paint the room, protect the floor. Paint is difficult to remove from hardwood floors without a ton of abrasive. Save yourself work later on by completely covering the floor with drop cloths.
- Sweep and vacuum in all seasons. It’s simple, but it’s a must – especially in the Midwest in winter. If you have hardwood in high-traffic areas of your house, you may want to consider renting a professional floor scrubber after winter makes a salty wasteland of the wood.
- Get rid of the dog. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, monitor their messes. Pet stains do not sand out of hardwood. Keep their nails short, too. Unless you have a pet bear, scratches will be fairly easy to sand out of the floor, but until you have the time and money to invest in sanding, you’ll have to live with the look of the scratches.
- Test the floor before you recoat. If you haven’t always been the owner of your floors, you’ll want to test the floor for previous cleaning products that could be detrimental to new finishes or polyurethane layers. This means checking for grease-based products or acrylic waxes. You can test for grease-based products with a few drops of paint thinner, and for acrylic products with a mixture of ammonia and water. Do it in an area that is out of the way, and after a few minutes, wipe up the product with a light-colored towel. If there is a waxy residue, you have a contaminant. If there’s a white residue, you have a floor polish. You’ll want to remove it all from the floor before proceeding to recoat.
- Buff and recoat with polyurethane every few years. Also called a “screen and recoat,” this is a faster, less expensive, less intensive process that lightly removes the existing finish and top coat of wood to even out the wood’s tone and surface, then applies a fresh coat of polyurethane. It should be done before you start to wear down any area to bare wood. This should happen every three to five years.
- Re-sand your floors. Most hardwood floors have enough in them to endure four to five sandings in their lifetime. If yours is damaged or starting to look dull and old, it may be time to sand in order to restore your floor’s original beauty.
Beauty for a Lifetime
Following the above beauty regimen will save you time, energy, and wasted money trying to fix things you could have prevented in the first place. With regular and intentional care, your hardwood floors will stay in great shape – for you and for the next tenant.
This guest post was written by Brooke McDonald, a professional blogger based in the Twin Cities. She works with and writes for businesses like Pete’s Hardwood Floors. She enjoys sharing helpful home improvement information with motivated homeowners.