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Floor Care

Floor care is a very important activity for every home

How to maintain your Solid Hardwood Floors in good condition

Tips for Floor Cleaning and Repair
PROVIDED BY THE HARDWOOD MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Having a Natural Hardwood Floor at Home

Solid hardwood floors require relatively little care but are very durable and valuable. Just a glimpse is enough to appreciate the natural beauty of the floor and to feel its warmth and rich color. Solid hardwood floors create harmony and add warmth and comfort to your home.

Taking a closer look at your floor, you can see its pattern and color. Is it bold-textured oak or subdued cherry? You need to check the underlying wood and its protective finish to check if there are signs of neglect and wear and tear. Or maybe the surface of the floor needs cleaning or repair? A solid hardwood floor is a great addition to your home, with different colours, texture and patterns available.

How to Protect Your Solid Floor

Actually, solid hardwood floors require little maintenance and cleaning is very easy. To maintain the look and quality of your floor, follow some simple cleaning techniques. Protecting the floor from damage is a key issue.

Maintenance and Cleaning

  • DIRT and GRIT: Dirt, sand and grit are harmful to your hardwood floor. They may cause scratches, dents, and dulling. One way to protect your floor is to place mats on all entrances.
  • WATER AND OTHER SPILLED LIQUIDS: Water and other liquids can cause serious damages to the finish of your solid hardwood floor, so you should wipe any spills immediately.
  • HARD CLEANING AGENTS:  Don’t use oil soaps and aggressive cleaning agents because they can build up and cause problems in the future. It is recommended to use cleaning agents with neutral pH that are specially developed for wooden floors.
  • FURNITURE: It is a good idea to place felt contracts under the legs of your pieces of furniture to avoid scratches. Also, when you move furniture, you should lift it and not drag it.
  • DENTS: Any dents, if present, should be vacuumed using a brush attachment and not with beater bars.
  • DIRECT SUNLIGHT: Direct sunlight can harm your solid hardwood floor because, leading to discoloration. It is recommended to close the curtains to protect the floor from direct UV rays.

Regular Maintenance and Care

  • SWEEP: Use fine brooms with exploded ends to regularly sweep dust and grit.
  • VACUUM: Use canister vacuums with attachments to clean bare floors.
  • DUST MOP: Clean the floor with a dust mop that has a 12 to 18 inch cotton head. Also, use cleaning agents for solid hardwood floors.

Oak and maple wood are widely used for hardwood floors. Cherry, ash, birch, beech, walnut and hickory are also popular.

What Should You Do if Your New Floor Looks Old and Worn Out?

Poor maintenance and care are the main reasons. Is there anything you can do? Assess the condition of the floor finish first to see if repairs are required.

Assess the Condition of Your Floor

Use the following guideline to assess the condition of your floor:

  • Condition of the finish:  Check if the finish is worn out or dirty. To do this, make a simple test. Pour one or two tablespoons of water on the floor. Choose a high-traffic area. If the water soaks immediately, leaving a dark spot on the floor, then the finish is seriously worn. If the water soaks in a few minutes and leaves a slightly dark spot on the floor, then the finish is not completely worn but still needs care. In case the water doesn’t soak at all, the finish is in perfect condition.
  • Condition of the wood: It is likely that the floorboards are damaged if the finish is worn. Check if there are any holes, cracks, burns, cuts, stains, gouges or warped boards. In case there are visible signs, repairs are necessary before a new finish is applied.

How to Determine the Type of Your Floor’s Finish?

The choice of method depends on the type of finish, whether your floor is in good condition or not. Ask the retailer or manufacturer about the type of finish or use the following tests:

  • Surface Finishes: (pre-finished floors, polyurethane, water-based urethane, and catalyzed finishes) Most floors have a surface finish, which is usually polyurethane. These finishes are glossy, with a layer of clear plastic on the wood. Put a small amount of paint remover to see if the finish is urethane. The surface will bubble in this case. If it is water-based urethane, the reaction will not occur. Floor finishes are used to protect the wood from damage.
  • Penetrating Seals: (acrylics, oils, and waxes) Floors with oil and wax finishes have a satin or matte look. If there is a penetrating seal, you can feel the wood grain by running your hand across the floor surface. Perform the paint remover test to determine the type – a wax stripper or ammonia will soften and whiten it, with no effects on the penetrating seal.

Additional Care and Maintenance

There are different ways to take good care of your hardwood floor:

  • Damp Mopping – Damp mopping is recommended by many professionals. If the finish of the floor is in good condition and mopping is done appropriately, water will not penetrate through the finish and damage the wooden floor. Keep in mind that you are actually cleaning the finish and not the floor itself. If the finish is in poor condition, damp mopping is a bad idea and may damage the wood.
  • Damp Mopping – It is recommended to use water and a wood cleaner with neutral pH to clean your floor once a week.  Mop the floor using clean water. This is the fastest and most effective way to clean your hardwood floor.
  • Heavy-Duty Mopping – Use water and cleaning agent liberally if your floor is appropriately sealed. However, don’t overdo.
  • Vinegar – Some experts recommend using vinegar to clean your hardwood floor. However, vinegar is not effective in removing soil and grease.

Maintenance Coat

If cleaning fails to restore the lustre and glossy look of your solid hardwood floor, then you may apply a maintenance coat. You can easily restore the natural beauty of your floor by simply waxing it.

For some, polishing and waxing is not a good idea, but this is a simple way to make your floor shine again. Consider the pros and cons and consult an expert.

  • Advantages – It is easy to strip and reapply.  It is easy to apply and clean the wax. Dirt will stick to the wax and not the finish.
  • Disadvantages – Using wax may limit your options when it comes to the application of a new finish or coat. Also, it may cause adhesion problems when new coating is applied, especially if wax has not been fully stripped.

Use wax only if the original finish of your floor is seriously damaged and you don’t plan to apply a new finish any time soon.

Removing Stains from Waxed Floors

Staining occurs even if you are very careful. Here are some guidelines on safe removal:

  • Water Stains:  Rub the stained area with No. 2 steel wool and apply new wax. In case of severe stains, use fine sandpaper and clean the area with No.1 or 00 steel wool. Use mineral spirits and floor cleaning agents and wax the area again.
  • Cigarette Burns: Light cigarette burns are safely removed with steel wool, soap, and water.
  • Heel and Caster Marks: To clean these, you need to rub the area with fine steel wool and a floor cleaning agent. Then, wipe the area and polish it.
  • Ink Stains and Other Dark Spots: Use No. 2 steel wool and a floor cleaning agent to clean the affected area. Then wash it thoroughly. In case of stubborn stains, use fine sandpaper and reapply wax. If the stains remain, you may have to replace the affected area.
  • Chewing Gum and Wax: Ice the stained area until the chewing gum or wax crumbles off. Then pour some floor cleaning agent on the stain to loosen it.
  • Alcohol Stains:  Rub the stain with paste wax or liquid.
  • Repairing Wax Finishes: Use fine steel wool and rub it in a puddle of paint thinner or reconditioner. Then apply new wax.
    Start from the edge of the stain and move toward the centre. This will prevent spreading.
  • Removing Stains and Repair of Surface Finishes: Remove one or two coats of finish with steel wool or sandpaper. Work along the length of the floorboard. Then remove dust and carefully reapply the same finish.
  • Squeaks: Dry air makes wood floors lose moisture and contract while humidity makes them expand. Constant shrinking and swelling often leads to squeaks. Fortunately, squeaks can be easily repaired.
  • Repairing Squeaks: Apply liquid wax, powdered soap, or talcum powder between the floorboards. If this doesn’t help, you can use finishing nails for the pilot holes.
    Consult an expert if you need to replace your hardwood floor or to apply a new finish.