Proper Care For Hardwood Floors
If you’ve recently restored or refinished an old hardwood floor or are thinking of installing in a new one then this is the ideal time to learn how to clean hardwood properly to avoid expensive repairs and refinishing later. Follow these tips and your floor will stay looking as new as the day you installed it.
How Long Does A Wood Floor For Last?
First let’s consider the value of the investment of care in a hardwood floor. How long does a hardwood floor last? Actually a very long time. There are examples of old hardwood floors from around the country that have stayed in great condition for decades and up to more than 100 years of use. There’s nothing inherent about hardwood floors that says they have to deteriorate; they can remain intact and beautiful for a very long time with proper care.
However, to keep your floor looking good and to reduce the effects of wear they need to be properly maintained. As an organic material wood floors do have the potential to deteriorate over especially from the effects of water and wear but this doesn’t have to be a problem if you clean and care for them properly.
Use The Right Broom For Hardwood Floors
“When sweeping, use only brooms with exploding bristles because they are the most effective in taking out grime and dust”, this advice is ALL OVER the internet – does anyone know what the heck “exploding bristles” are??
Don’t worry too much about “exploding” or “exploded” bristles. Just use a soft bristled brush such as one made with horsehair. Or use one of those wide, flat soft white cotton dry push mops that they use on gym floors in schools and at NBA games.
Dry mops have the advantages of being nice and soft so they don’t harm the finish and they cover a large surface area for faster floor cleaning. They also pick up all types of dirt and sand without using water. They can be shaken out outdoors or the cotton head can be washed with cold water.
Don’t use a straw broom. Although they look great with your decor sitting in the corner by the fireplace the bristles on these types of brooms are are too stiff and will make minute scratches that will slowly remove the finish. Over time this can lead to considerable damage once that protective layer is removed and water and dirt can penetrate the wood itself.
Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Water
Can you clean a hardwood floor with water? Here’s the truth about cleaning a wood floor with water, the floor is not going to fall apart if you use a damp paper towel to clean up a Hawaiian Punch spill every now and then. However, you wouldn’t want to splash buckets of water over a hardwood floor and push it around with a mop like you could with a tile or linoleum floor.
Not only are water a wood a bad idea (think of a toothpick kept in your mouth too long) but usually before the wood gets damaged the shiny coating will get dulled. And if the finish is old and worn then repeated exposure of the wood to water would have a bad effect. Once water is allowed to be absorbed into the wood it can cause swelling and warping. Warped and swollen planks not only would need to be replaced but they also could damage the adjacent boards and rupture the baseboard causing additional expensive problems.
So when it comes to cleaning wood with water occasional damp rag or paper towel cleanups are OK but dry cleaning methods are best.
Dirt Accumulation In Gaps In Hardwood Floor
As you’re sweeping keep an eye out for gaps between the planks or around the baseboard where you can see or would expect to see dirt accumulating. Over time not only will the dirt stay in there and be unsanitary, it can also cause pressure over time as more and more dirt gets in there which will eventually cause the planks to be forced further apart. If you see areas where this is happening consult with a local hardwood floor company to see whether it can be filled.
Routine Inspections of Hardwood Floors
How often should you have your hardwood floors inspected by a professional? First whenever there are signs of wear such as loss of shine or color that indicate the wax or oil or polyurethane finish is coming off. Once the raw wood is exposed it’s not an immediate emergency, but once the raw wood is showing it is vulnerable and if left unprotected it can be stained by spills or absorb water and swell and warp causing bigger problems.
Other than noticeable wear, other occasions that can be used as an opportunity to have your floors evaluated by a professional are when remodeling the kitchen or buying, selling or renting the house.
These are but a few life events when you’re likely to be reminded of your wood floor, but it’s helpful if you keep your floor’s care and condition in mind to be sure it stays well taken care of and beautiful for years to come.