We’ve responded to a number of frozen pipe floods this season where wood floors were involved. A single flood event can destroy a home’s wood floor, but the reality is that most floors suffer ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’. That is, they are ruined or worn out by improper care or unintended abuse. Pets, kids, snow, grit, harsh cleaning chemicals and plain old water are the ruination of many a wood or laminate floor.
Wood floors of various kinds, species and finishes have become America’s flooring of choice. Whether solid, milled or laminated, native or exotic, wood is downright beautiful and generally sustains healthier indoor air quality than carpeted floors. Because they add so much to a home’s value and comfort, wood floors deserve basic care and pampering. Help your wood floor live to become an heirloom by following these easy, common sense tips.
- Know your floor type and finish. Follow the manufacturer’s or installer’s care guidelines. Can’t find the manufacturer’s info? Speak to an expert at a flooring store for help. Or call a floor maintenance pro. There are many varieties of floors and finishes. Cleaning chemistry is different from one floor finish to another.
- Never wax/polish a urethane floor. The majority of hard wood floors installed today have urethane finishes.
- Sweep regularly. Sweeping will help keep your floor free from greasy dirt, abrasive dusts, and sandy grit that easily scratch and dull its surface. A beater bar vacuum cleaner should never be used on a wood floor as bristles will scratch and scrub off finishes.
- Avoid wet mopping any hardwood or laminate floor. Standing water and soaps can dull the finish, raise the grain, fill cracks with water and quickly damage the floor. Dust mops or vacuums for wood floors are preferred. If you must mop, be sure the mop is barely damp –or better, use a slightly dampened, clean towel or cloth.
- When using cleaning products, be sure you’re using them only as recommended. Products formulated for tile, linoleum or other hard surface can ruin wood floor finishes. Use only cleaners specifically sold for your type of wood finish.
- Avoid oil soaps, such as Murphy’s. Oils build up and dull the appearance of your wood floors. Later refinishing is more difficult.
- Use a buffer only on wax finish floors. Consider owning rather than renting a buffer if your home has a lot of hardwood flooring. To remove staining in wax finished floors, rub stained area gently with fine steel wool then reapply wax.
- Cleated sports shoes, Yak Traks, even high heels can permanently damage a floor’s finish and the wood below. A ‘slippers and socks only’ policy is a darn good idea in a wood floor home!
- Use area rugs in high traffic areas like entrances and hallways to prevent tracking dirt, grit, or sand. Leaving all shoes at the door really helps maintain floor surfaces and indoor air quality.
- Install felt pads on the bottom of all furniture legs so marring and scuffing can’t occur when furniture gets moved in the room.
- Use water barriers, such as a rug in front of your kitchen sink, boot trays at entrances, or a boot tray under the pet’s water and food bowls to keep errant drips and splashes from landing on a wood floor.
- UV rays from sunshine pouring through a window can discolor floor finishes (and other furnishings) so consider installing window blinds to shield your flooring investment.
- Since pets can destroy a hardwood floor, frequent toe nail trimming and litter boxes are advised. The process of house breaking a new puppy may lead to emergency rescues for a wood floor. Consider placing a temporary 12 mil plastic sheeting over floors for a while.
- Keep the relative humidity level inside the home between 35 and 55 percent all year round.
- Never, ever let your floor get wet or remain wet for any length of time. Should a water spill occur, mop and wipe dry immediately. If it is a lot of water, quickly call Floodco. We know how to effectively remove water and thoroughly dry wood floors. Wood and laminate floors absorb water surprisingly quickly through top surfaces and the unsealed bottom, sides and end cuts causing wood to swell, warp, cup or even buckle. Floodco uses special, patented wood floor drying technology and, if applied soon enough, can save even a totally submerged floor. After too much time passes though, tearing out and replacing ruined flooring may be the only option.
These web resources provide additional guidance to maintaining hardwood floors:
Posted by Lloy Griffing FLOODCO, LLC 406 892-1717