While you may feel good about your hardwood floor maintenance routine, clip your pet’s nails so that they don’t scratch the wood, and keep water away from your planks, you may overlook a few wood floor care details. Well sealed hardwood floors are able to take enough abuse for you not to have to tiptoe around them. However, you may be guilty of some surprising maintenance mistakes that are more harmful than you think.
Below are the five things you may do to your hardwood floors without realizing that they are suffering.
1. Accidentally spraying your wood floors with furniture polish
Every week you give your furniture a mini-facelift using polish spray. What you do not realize is that, when spraying the wood, the solution gets on your floor. Unfortunately, wax, polish, oil soaps and silicone cleaners create a permanent film that is almost impossible to remove. Next time you want to buff your floors so that you can replenish your finish with a new coat, you may run into bonding problems with the polyurethane layer. Sealer cannot adhere to wax, so the otherwise simple buff-and-coat treatment becomes an involved process that starts with chemically stripping the wax layer and may end up with the need to sand the floors down to the wood.
2. Experimenting with cleaning products
Enthusiasm in matters of hardwood floor maintenance is good, but knowledge of what works and what harms the floor is essential. Do not fall for all the cleaning solutions out there that promise to restore the shine of your floor or make imperfections disappear. We have come across sad stories about homeowners using polish, disinfectants, ammonia cleaners, even dish soap in an attempt to clean their floors. Unfortunately, all these solutions pile up, dull your floors, ruin your sealer and give you the much feared finish bonding issues.
Instead, follow the recommendations of your wood finisher and those of the hardwood flooring manufacturer when choosing the right cleaning product.
3. Using the wrong cleaning tools
There are many of them, starting with the apparently inoffensive mop – the kind that gets soaked with water and doesn’t accomplish much when trying to remove the soiled liquid from the floor. Even a harsh-bristled broom can play a part in slowly scratching and eroding your finish. The steam cleaner is the feared enemy of your hardwood floors. Humidity attacks the wood, especially if the sealer is thin and unreliable. Finally, the rotating brush or even the wheels of your vacuum can scratch or dent the floor.
Instead, choose cleaning tools that do the job with a bit more compassion. A soft broom and a dust mop can be used daily to remove dust and dirt. Provided that you are not using a beater bar, a vacuum is actually a good idea, since it helps remove dirt from between the boards. As for washing your floors, never use water, but the cleaning solution recommended by the wood flooring manufacturer and a dry mop or soft cloth.
4. Using the wrong cleaning technique
If your daily to-do list is long, you may find that pouring floor cleaners straight onto your floor, then spreading it all over works faster. But even when using the right solution, your hardwood floor may be the victim of a wrong cleaning technique. Applying the wood floor cleaning solution in puddles is no better than pouring water over your hardwood boards. The liquid may travel into the wood, especially if the sealer is on its last leg, and create discoloration, swelling and even warping.
Finally, remember to dust and remove dirt before you wash your floors. First, moving debris around may cause scratches on your finish. Second, depending on the type of debris, the mix of debris and water can lead to unidentified smudges and spots.
5. Thinking that great care means no need for restoration routines
Just because you take great care of your floors does not mean that you can completely avoid hardwood flooring restoration projects. While you may do an excellent job in keeping the damage away from the wood, damage to the level of the finish is inevitable. In fact, it is to be expected, since this is exactly what the sealer does – dealing with the effects of daily wear and tear and getting thinner and thinner in the process of protecting the wood underneath.
Do not ignore the buff-and-coat treatments your hardwood floor needs even before any damage is obvious. Replenishing your finish before the damage gets to the wood is the best way to extend the life of your hardwood floors and minimize the cost of refinishing hardwood floors.