A little prevention can greatly extend the life of your hardwood floors and keep them in good shape. Here are a few tips on how to keep your hardwood floors looking new.
Prevent Scratches and Dents
Scratches are unsightly, trap dust and debris and provide a perfect port of entry for damaging water. You can keep hardwood floors from scratching by using felt floor protectors at the bottom of your furniture and by clipping your pets’ nails. Avoid sharp heels and spike sport shoes, since they can dent the surface and give your floors an uneven look. When moving your furniture, do not drag it or roll it on the floor. Narrow rollers and metal tips at the bottom of your furniture can cause gauges or leave visible traces.
Even if they seem to play with your nerves, never pull splinters or protruding nails from the floor – you may end up with more damage than you started with. Use the services of a professional wood flooring company to diagnose and fix these imperfections or when you need to replace loose boards. Removing the planks without causing further damage and matching the new boards to the existing ones for a seamless look require a bit of experience in hardwood floor repair.
Use Rugs in High-Traffic Areas
The dust, dirt, sand or other apparently minor particles you bring into your house cause hard-to-see scratches that over time may dull your floors. Place a rug at the entrance to collect the debris. Choose a breathable rug that does not have a rubber, plastic or foam backing – these tend to trap humidity and discolor the floor. Avoid rugs that stick to the surface, since they may damage your finish. Use rugs in areas with heavy daily traffic and where the kids like to play, so that you minimize the scratches caused by toys. At the risk of angry protests, enforce a no-shoe policy, especially when it is raining or snowing.
In time, your floors may slightly change color as a result of exposure to light or as part of the natural aging process. Some types of hardwood tend to fade, while others darken. Exotic woods are more prone to such changes in color. Every now and then, move around your area rugs and even your large furniture – this helps keeping hardwood floors from fading or aging unevenly.
Keep Temperature and Humidity Level Constant
While you may love the natural look of hardwood floors, nature is known to be capricious. Your wood floors react to the indoor temperature, expanding in the summer and shrinking in the winter. High or fluctuating humidity can cause the wood to split or warp and boards to separate. The changes can be dramatic: if the humidity level is dangerously low, the gaps between your planks can reach ¼”. Minimize these effects by keeping a 35 to 55% relative humidity level in your home and avoid temperature changes. Another tip: keep your flower pots off the floor, so that humidity does not get trapped underneath.
Clean Your Hardwood Floors Regularly
Never let water spills sit on the floor. Even when sealed, hardwood is susceptible to water damage and can swell and darken. Dust, sweep or vacuum regularly so that debris does not get ingrained into the floor. Use a soft cloth when cleaning and a felt head when vacuuming. Avoid wet or damp mops and stay away from oil-based, ammoniated or abrasive cleaners. Do not use wax, polishes, soap-based cleaners, bleach and steel wool sponges on your hardwood floors. Our Bona Professional Series spray mop is a carefully perfected system that uses a fine micro-mist and a microfiber cleaning pad to clean your floors without damaging them.
Buff and Coat: Give Your Floors a Periodic Facelift
Your hardwood floors are as good as the layer that protects them. Keep the top coat in good shape by periodically buffing and recoating your floor. This removes superficial scratches and worn finishes and revives your tired-looking boards. Keep up with a good maintenance regimen: an annual buffing treatment in high-traffic areas and one every few years where the floors get less abuse.