If you have recently chosen to install natural hardwood flooring, you will get to experience the classic and timeless beauty of Mother Nature in your own home. After the time, effort and money put into the installation of such beautiful floors, you may be wondering how you should be caring for your floors so that the natural hardwood maintains its beauty and gleam over the years to come.
Prevent unnecessary wear from traffic and daily use
Solid and engineered hardwood can be easily protected by identifying the areas of your home most subject to wear and tear and then taking precautionary steps. Area rugs or runners near doorways where people enter from outside can provide beautiful and functional accents to your décor. Protective floormats can be very beneficial in front of the kitchen sink or in entryways to shield your floors from excessive moisture and grit tracked in on boots and shoes.
Always take your shoes off when walking on the hardwood
When you step on the hardwood flooring with dirty shoes that are carrying dirt, sand and grit, you are tracking and leaving the grime behind on the floors. These particles are abrasive and can ruin the hardwood floors by getting into seams and causing scratches. In addition to removing your shoes, to prevent damage to your hardwood floors, we recommend placing maths both outside and inside exterior doors to help reduce the dirt that gets tracked in. When the weather becomes rainy or snowy, it is also a good idea to include a boot removal area in order to minimize damage from water and de-icers.
Good cleaning habits
Tending quickly to spills and regularly sweeping for dust and dirt will go a long way in preserving beautiful quality hardwood. Due to the finish that protects this flooring material, debris on the surface can be easily removed, and prompt removal of grit will prevent unnecessary damage.
The right cleaner and cleaning products
When you do a deeper clean, be sure that you use cleaning products specific for hardwood. Excessive moisture can be detrimental, and a small amount of specialized cleaner often goes a long way. A few sprays of cleaning solution on a cleaning pad or microfibre mop will be easier and more effective than a bucket of water that may slosh or drip and do more harm than good.
Dust is made of fine grit and particles that, when pressed underfoot, act like sandpaper against these floors. This will eventually wear away at the floor’s finishing over time and compromise its ability to withstand other stresses. A good, regular vacuuming will improve the lifespan of your finish. Be aware that some vacuum attachments, such as rotating brushes or beater bars, can also scratch the finish and should be disabled before use. Other tools, such as dust mops or a Swiffer, are acceptable substitutes as well. There are a multitude of different floor cleaning products available and its important to use the right one for hardwood floors. Products meant for tile or vinyl floors, or self-polishing waxes, can make this type of flooring slippery or cause the colour to dull over time. Fortunately, most finishes come with recommendations on cleaning methods and polishes and you can use this to help pick the right products.
Without question, you should avoid the use of steam mops or steam cleaners on your hardwood flooring as their heat, moisture and pressure can easily cause irreparable damage.
Water and wood don’t mix
Wood is an absorbent material, so infusing it with water causes it to plump up and potentially warp or crack. Steam is a heated water vapour which is designed to disinfect a treated area. The steam can penetrate cracks and textural surfaces where germs hide, but in the case of wood flooring, the ability to seep in deeply can lead to long-term problems. Some steam cleaners have a function designed to vacuum up the moisture simultaneously and leave the surface dry. These manufacturers claim their devices are safe for hardwood flooring, but they note that the floors must be expertly sealed to prevent moisture damage. While steamer manufacturers feel their products are safe, conversely, the major wood flooring associations and manufacturers don’t recommend water or steam to be applied to hardwood and other wood products.
Check your seals and seams
If you decide you want to proceed with steam cleaning, we recommend that you check to see if your floor is well sealed first. You should be able to place just a few drops of water on the floor and see if it beads up immediately. You’ll need to check this is multiple areas to ensure the seal is intact. A well-sealed floor may still have vulnerable seams between the planks. Allowing water to pool or using pressure to direct it into those cracks could affect the flat seams over time or even deposit moisture underneath the boards. Steam could void your warranty. Another reason to proceed with caution is that if you’ve recently installed your floors, you likely have a manufacturer’s warranty which will warn against certain types of treatment, including steam. We recommend you read the warranty carefully to ensure you don’t cause a problem for yourself.
Use Furniture Pads
Not everyone removes their shoes immediately after stepping into a home. A large “walk-off” mat ensures that dirt, moisture, and salt get rubbed off even if people aren’t wiping themselves. Similarly, consider using a rug in high traffic areas such as a living room to minimize the wear placed on your floor. Try to avoid mats and rugs with rubber or vinyl backings since these have been known to trap moisture and may end up damaging the floors they are meant to protect. Moving furniture can cause scratches in the surfaces and even stationary pieces can cause indents and damage through repeated use. Both can be cut down by adding furniture pads to the legs of chairs, tables, sofas, and the like. As an added perk, pads make it easier to move furniture in general.
Consider kids, pets, and furniture
Preventive measures can also be applied to avoid excessive scratches and dents that result despite careful use. Where children will be playing with toys, having a dedicated space that includes carpeting or foam mats can prevent years of damage. Pet owners will want to ensure their furry friend’s nails are kept neatly trimmed to avoid not only scratches but deeper gouges as well that can be difficult and costly to repair.
Even in homes that are adult-only, an often-overlooked source of damage to hardwood flooring in Toronto comes from heavy furniture leaving dents in the wood, or scratches from sliding furniture grinding dirt into the finish. It can easily be prevented by sticking protective felt pads on the feet of furniture and by using wide floor protectors under the feet of weighty items.
If you find scratches on your hardwood floor, camouflage it effectively with a crayon
Finally, once you have finished cleaning your hardwood floors, you may see some scratches. Do not fear, there is a simple trick to attempt for hiding these flaws. Take a crayon that matches the colour of your floors and rub it into the scratch to fill the gap. Then take a blow dryer to heat the area. To finish it off, buff this spot with a soft spot and your hardwood floors will be as good as new!
Protect from Moisture
Many consider summer to be a dry season, but you’ll need to protect your hardwood floors from wet feet and towels when you come in from the beach, a pool, or a torrential downpour! Absorbent floor mats can be styled to match your décor and add a fun pop of colour or provide sleek, neutral protection for your hardwood near entryways.
Limit Indoor Humidity
We have our share of hot, humid weather, and your natural wood floors suffer just like we do when humidity rates go up. When you set your climate control, it is critical that you not only consider your personal comfort but also the needs of your flooring to avoid warping or shrinkage due to excessive moisture in the air. A good temperature range is 15-23°C, or if you have humidity control, keep the range between 35 and 55%.
Reduce Fading from Sunlight Exposure
Last but not least, care for your hardwood flooring by protecting it from direct sun damage. Modern window options include choices that can reduce ultraviolet and infrared rays, but even older windows can be treated with protective films. For some homeowners, just closing curtains or blinds whenever sunlight streams directly onto the floor is the best solution to prevent fading in the light. With these tips, you’ll easily keep your stunning wood floors looking gorgeous for years to come through every season! If your current flooring is damaged or you’re planning to upgrade to hardwood from another material, book a consultation with the friendly experts at Chestnut Flooring today and let us show you the beautiful possibilities.