With the right care and maintenance, your hardwood floors can last a lifetime. Original or new hardwood floors can add value and beauty to any home, but they require some upkeep and maintenance to retain their original luster. To ensure your floors wear well and look great for years to come, consider the following tips:
Wipe up spills immediately. Water is the natural enemy of hardwood floors, so clean up spills right away to avoid spotting, warping or discoloration. Put down rugs in front of kitchen sinks or in areas where water is likely to be spilled. Keep in mind that rugs or fabrics that are damp or wet will act the same as a puddle of water and can damage your flooring beyond repair. “Water damage can be repaired in some cases, but if a floor is badly damaged, you may need to replace that entire section,” explains Calvin Hoang, owner of C H Hardwood Floors in San Jose. “If part of the floor needs to be replaced, you may also have to sand and resurface the entire room, because it’s hard to get new flooring to match existing flooring.”
Clean floors regularly. Sweep, vacuum (with a brush or felt vacuum head) or dust mop floors on a weekly basis. In high-traffic areas or homes with children and pets, you may need to sweep or dust mop more often. As a general rule, if you see dirt or feel it underfoot, it’s time to sweep. This will keep dust, sand and other debris from collecting and grinding into the floor, which can dull the finish and permanently scar the flooring.
Protect high-traffic areas. Place throw rugs, floor runners and area rugs in front of doors, seating areas and other places that receive high amounts of traffic. Constant wear can dull the finish and strip the wax from wood flooring, which can make the floor look old and permanently mar the surface. Rugs should be made of breathable material and not backed with plastic, foam or rubber, as this can trap moisture and discolor wood floors.
Avoid scratches and dents. Pet nails, rolling furniture, hard-legged furniture, and heavy appliances and furniture can leave scratches and dents on the surface of your flooring. These scratches can permanently scar the wood, and deep gouges may not be easily removed. To avoid this:
• Trim pets’ nails regularly to keep them from digging into the flooring.
• Place plywood or plastic lifts under heavy appliances and furniture.
• Use furniture leg pads under dining room chairs and other hard-legged furniture.
• Don’t roll heavy furniture or appliances across the floor.
• Replace narrow furniture rollers with wide rubber rollers that are less likely to dent or damage the floor.
• Don’t walk across hardwood floors wearing stiletto heels or shoes with missing or damaged heel taps.
• Put slip-resistant pads under rugs to avoid a gradual sanding effect.
Control home temperature and humidity. Humidity can cause hardwood floors to swell, which makes them more susceptible to damage, so try to keep your home’s relative humidity between 35 and 55 percent. Use your air conditioner on hot, humid days to keep the humidity low inside your home. On dry days, you may need to use a humidifier to prevent shrinking. Wood stoves and electric heat can remove humidity from the air, so be aware of this when heating your home.
Use the right cleaning products. Ammonia-based cleaning solutions, wax products, harsh detergents, bleach-based solutions, oil soaps, acidic cleansers, vinegar and abrasive cleansers will damage hardwood floors and should never be used. Only use specialty hardwood floor cleaners recommended by your hardwood flooring manufacturer.
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