How to Maintaining a Hardwood Floor

Through proper maintenance a hardwood floor can literally last a lifetime.  This article will go over every aspect of maintaining your hardwood floor to how you should maintain & clean your wood floor. If you are going to spend the money on a hardwood refinish or a new wood floor install, you want it to last and look beautiful for years to come.

The initial idea of keeping a floor lasting is that you need to minimize water and dirt on your floor. The next idea is you need to protect your floor from furniture.

These 2 things are the worst things possible for your floor.

Water – every floor finish is permeable, as in water/moisture is free to come and go. No matter the type water can get through as the wood needs to breath otherwise it would cup/crown very easily. Water and wood do not mix – in-fact, water and finish do not mix either. Water makes wood cells expand within minutes of penetrating the finish.

Dirt – Think of dirt, dust, material on the floor as sandpaper. Essentially dirt is exactly what we refinish you floor with. Sandpaper is used to rip off your floor finish and dirt does just that. While dirt isn’t usually bigger “rocks” like sandpaper, it does grind and “polish” a floor. Each time dirt, dust etc on the floor is pressed on with your foot it is grinding the floor finish off little by little.

So, essentially by eliminating these 2 things from your floor, you will save years from having to refinish or even maintenance coat a floor. The next section is a way to minimize dirt and water from your floor.

*Before Installing a Floor Notice (skip if floor is already installed)*

If you haven’t installed a floor but are looking to install one, I highly suggest you not install flooring in your kitchen that is wood related. Wood is very responsive to water, it is ideal to keep it away from where most your water is located kitchens & bathrooms. Every week we get a water damage call about a refrigerator, toilet or faucet that has leaked. If you have the choice, don’t add wood in these areas, period.

How to Mitigate Water Ruining Your Hardwood Floors

So we have established hardwood and water do not mix. However, what you need to know water can be in many different forms. Moisture (in the air, not visible), normal liquid water and steam.

Humidity – is the amount of water in the air. Wood contracts and expands depending how much water is in the air. So keeping humidity at a constant level ensures your wood has the best environment to live in.

Liquid State – This would be water that comes out of the faucet or a refrigerator line. This is the fastest way a floor can be ruined. Water in liquid state holds 100% moisture and is immediately in contact with the floor.

Steam – as in a steam mop… Steam is the smallest particle and does not take time for this to permeate the flooring finish. Steam bypasses the finish and gets injected into the wood. It will eat a floor form the inside out.

So now that you know the different forms of water that can hurt your floor I will now go over how to make these issues non-existent for your floor/home.

Humidity – is something that is atmospheric so we must read the moisture readings daily. An easy way to do this is either your heat/cooling unit will tell you the moisture level or you can get a reader at homedepot/lowes (click here to see).

The humidity in your home should stay with in a range of 35-50%. By going out of this range you are potentially causing issues with the wood expanding (if more than 50% moisture) or contracting (if less than 15%). Now this is of course a guide and if you live somewhere like Colorado your humidity chart might be a bit different, but this is a good guide to live by.

One other way in a crawl space can affect your floor. So this humidity needs to be controlled as well, While it doesn’t need to be as crazy as controlling within the home since there should be moisture barrier under the wood and plastic on top of the dirt below your home. If you do not have plastic on the dirt in your crawlspace, this needs to be corrected.

Liquid – The main cause of liquid on the floor is water lines, so it is important to inspect those every few months to make sure there is no moisture coming from them.

Refrigerator lines often go back. It seems that the copper lines wear faster, It is ideal to use the best line possible and change it every few years to escape damage to your hardwood floor from a leaking water hose for a refrigerator.

Dog bowls should not be on the floor as the dogs will spill lots of water. This water will sit there for hours until it is evaporated. When a dog also gets water on the floor it gets under the bowl and can cause major issues that way.

Boots in winter are a huge thing to cause issues. While the homes have less moisture during this time because of the heaters, snow can turn to water. More specifically snow turns to water that then sits in that spot for hours if not longer. keep the boots out of the home.

Plants are terrible for hardwood floors. Even with plastic catchers under the plan vase, the hardwood over the years gets rotted out and has to be replaced.

Dog Pee – No matter the type of finish, dog pee penetrates and not just warps the wood it stains the wood. Dog pee needs to be cleaned up instantly if possible, if not it can damage floors depending on how much acid is in your dogs pee!

Steam – Steam mops were kinda a big thing for a while, they seem to have died down, but it is a good thing to talk about. Steam produces very small particles and mixed with forced air can get under finish and be injected into the wood. Crazy! But, we have seen many times where soft grain of the hardwood floor is eaten from this steam and overtime will turn grey and wood will chunk out. I highly suggest not using a steam mop to clean your hardwood floor.

How to Mitigate Dirt From Ruining Your Hardwood Floors

First and foremost, lets go over the types of “dirt” I am talking about. Most people think of clumps of dirt, but that is not the only form you should be worried about. Forms of “dirt” include –

– shoe droppings
– dust
– rocks
– road salt
– regular debris from living
– food (nuts and such)

Crazy how many forms of “dirt” there are. However, it is ideal to know what forms of dirt can actually hurt your floor and what it does to a floor over time.

How do I stop dirt from getting on my floor?

The best way to stop dirt from ever getting on your floor is to have mats on the outside of the house to capture any debris from shoes. Another option is to only wear socks inside. This option ensures very little dust comes into the house.

What is the best way to clean the floors if dirt gets on them?

The easiest and most convenient way to clean your hardwood floors is to use a vacuum. Th vacuum needs to have soft rollers and front suction brushes. A vacuum pulls the dirt up without mixing it into the wood floor finish with a water or solution.

Overall, dirt is a sandpaper so the best option is to limit the amount of dirt that can get on your floors. If dirt does get on the floor, it is best to vacuum it up, then wipe it with a damp rag (not soaking wet!)

How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Your Furniture

Furniture is a big part in keeping your floor looking good. The little points of your chair or the metal bottom of a chair can scratch a floor very easily. IN fact, no so much “scratch” as most finishes are very scratch resistant but more so “dent”. You will notice if you see a “scratch” on your floor it is most likely a dent from the chair depressing the wood.

To mitigate the floor form denting I suggest using pads on the bottom of your chairs. The key to keeping the pads working is changing them out every 4-8 months. The pads will collect debris and it will build up. Also the pad becomes pretty hard and is no longer a pad after thousand of times pulling a chair out.

Other furniture like dressers etc should be lifted and not drug across the floor. Once again, no matter the finish it will immediately dent the floor. Wood is a very strong product but the amount of weight on each corner of a dresser is no match for wood, the dresser wins every time.

Refrigerators should not be rolled out on to the wood. You need to go to home depot or lowes and buy “runners” these plastic runners allow you to distribute the weight of the refrigerator across the floor evenly making it so the tiny wheels do no depress your wood.

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below and we will get back to you. Thank you.