Maintaining your hardwood floors
Did you just have hardwood floors installed and are now wondering the best way to care and maintain them? Or did you just move into a home that has hardwood throughout and you want to keep them looking new for years to come?
In this post, we’ll discuss some preventative tips for maintaining your hardwood floors, minimize scratching, and wear of the finish. Hardwood floors are classic and not going out of style anytime soon. One of the amazing benefits of hardwood flooring is that it lasts a lifetime and then some. We’ve refinished floors that were over a century old- albeit not always in the best condition- but certainly not anything a good sanding and refinishing couldn’t fix. Once sanded, the floors were beautiful and restored.
Hardwood isn’t as delicate to maintain as many claim it to be. The most important thing in preserving hardwood floors is your indoor home environment. Keeping your home environment consistent is a key factor in maintaining your hardwood floors. Wood is hydroscopic. It needs humidity or lack of it to expand and contract. Wood floors expand and contract naturally especially during hot and humid months and cold and dry winter months. However, too much drastic change in temperature and humidity can have adverse affects on your floor. While its normal for wood to move(i.e. expand and contract), when it happens under drastic circumstances, such as too much moisture in the air, your floors can buckle. Or if it is too cold and dry, your floors will contract leaving gaps and spacing at the seams. Your floors will typically remedy themselves once the environment changes, however, prolonged exposure to such events can ultimately ruin the wood.
How can it ruin the wood?
For one, when it is too cold and dry, your wood will loose much of its moisture content which runs the risk of it splitting, splintering, cracking and spacing.
If it is too hot and humid, the floors will expand and run into the risk of buckling.
How can you monitor the indoor humidity levels?
A hygrometer, aka humidity monitor, is best at monitoring your indoor temperature and RH(relative humidity) levels.
What are normal RH(relative humidity) levels for hardwood?
Between 35% - 55% are the best and recommended levels of RH in your home.
Aside from maintaining your indoor environment at consistent levels, there are other ways in which to preserve your hardwood.
- Take off shoes. Shoes can bring in debris and other dirt that can scratch and wear off the finish of your floors.
- Mats. Keep mats at doorways of entry and exit points. If you have hardwood in the kitchen, a good idea is to keep mats in front of the stove and sink. The stove and sink area receive a lot of traffic. The finish tends to wear faster in these areas that other areas of the kitchen. By placing mats it’s not only softer on your feet, but it serves a purpose in preserving your wood floors.
- Felt pads under furniture. This is a MAJOR item. Place felt pads under chairs or furniture legs. Make sure to change the pads from time to time to keep them clean and free of debris. The felt will protect your floors from the consistent movement of the chairs.
- NO HARSH CHEMICALS. Please refrain from using harsh chemicals on your floors. For polyurethaned and prefinished hardwood, we recommend Ammonia Free Windex. For oiled floors please you manufacturer recommendations. Often times, companies that manufacture oiled floors will have their own cleaning products they recommend to use.
- Use non-abrasive cleaning pads. Do not use a cleaning pad that is abrasive or you will scratch the finish on your floors. Dry swifter pads are perfect for the in-between cleanings on hardwood. They are soft but effective at cleaning debris. Make sure, however, that when user a swifter, there aren’t small hard particles that can scratch the finish. If you here something scraping, it’s best to stop and change the pad.
- Avoid mopping with large amount of water. We recommend misting the floor with a cleaner and wiping it up right away. Avoid, at all costs, using a mop and bucket of water.
Avoid installing hardwood in areas of the home where it just isn’t the right choice. For example, in a laundry area. Laundry rooms are a high content moisture area. Your floors run the risk of buckling due to water spillage from the washing machine. Plus the movement of the machines can scratch and damage the wood; even machines with VRT technology move and can damage wood floors.
Installing hardwood in a basement is a case by case situation. Some basements are suitable for hardwood, while other basements are not suitable for hardwood.
Bathrooms are other areas of the time where hardwood is not the best choice. We have seen bathrooms, especially powder rooms, with wood flooring installed. While we’d agree it looks beautiful, it’s not always practical. If wood in installed in your bathroom, make sure to wipe of any water that has fallen onto the floors right away. Keeps bath and sink mats dry at all times. Also, keep moisture to a minimum. If hardwood is installed in a bathroom that has a bathtub and shower, make sure to fully exhaust and dry out the steam the shower creates.