Hardwood flooring is easy to maintain if you follow a few simple guidelines. These tips also apply to engineered wood veneer. Most hardwood flooring today is finished with polyurethane. This is a surface finish and not a penetrating finish like wax. Most people have a polyurethane finish on their floors. Some may have unfinished hard wood. If you do not know whether or not your floor is finished, you can perform this test. Drop a few drops of water on the hardwood floor. If they bead, your floor is finished. If the water soaks in, your floor is unfinished. Never use water on an unfinished floor. To discover the type of finishing you have on the floor, simply rub your finger across the floor. If it leaves a smudge, you have a floor coated in wax or an oil penetrating stain. If no smudge remains, you have a polyurethane, urethane, or polyacrylic finish. The type of finish determines your cleaning method.
What two things make caring for hardwood floors in Charleston, SC different than maintaining them anywhere else? Two things: sand and humidity. Both of these can damage hardwood.
First, you should be sure that the relative humidity in your home is between 35% and 55%. This is also better for personal health and the maintenance of everything else in the home. Next, you should wipe up spills immediately. Any standing water will damage a hardwood floor regardless of finish. Be careful about putting planters directly on a hardwood floor. Be sure that any area rugs you have are breathable. You may notice that a key theme here is water and moisture. Any moisture that is allowed to collect anywhere, such as underneath a planter or area rug, will damage hardwood.
Another consideration is to use leg protectors on the legs of all your furniture and not to walk on the floors with high heels that are hard or able to make dents or scratches in the floor. It is good to keep rugs in high traffic areas and at interior and exterior entrances. this keeps dirt and debris to a minimum. You may want to have area rugs in kitchens and bathrooms to protect against water splashes.
To maintain your hardwood floors on a daily basis, you should sweep, use a swiffer, or vacuum weekly or as often as dirt or sand accumulates. Anything that is allowed to remain on the floor can be ground in and cause damage. Your vacuum should have a brush or felt head cover.
For deeper cleaning of polyurethane sealed floors, you can use a product specifically made for hardwood floors and apply this lightly with a mop. Never use ammonia based cleaners, polishes, furniture cleaners, bleach, harsh detergents, waxes, petroleum based products, anything abrasive or alkaline, or a lot of water. Furniture polish will create a slick surface on which you cannot walk. The other products mentioned will strip or damage the finish. All finishes will eventually become dull but the goal is to preserve them as long as possible.
A less expensive and eco friendly cleaning solution is to add several drops of dish washing liquid or Murphy’s Oil soap, and one cupful of white vinegar, to a bucket (at least 1 gallon) of hot water. Using a well-wrung mop, clean the floor. Then, use a microfiber cloth to remove the last traces of liquid from the floor. Vinegar has mild disinfectant properties and dish washing liquid is mild, does not leave a residue and cuts grease and dirt. Murphy’s oil soap does not contain oil and is actually a mild detergent.
Another option is to make a solution of one part rubbing alcohol with four parts hot water. Mop the floors and then use a microfiber cloth to dry off any remaining moisture. Rubbing alcohol not only kills germs, but it evaporates quickly, so that water is not on the floors for long.
To remove gum or candle wax from a hardwood floor, put a sealed bag of ice over the gum or wax and allow it to become hard and brittle. Then you can crumble it away and clean the floor as usual. Do not leave the ice on the area long enough for it to begin to melt and get the floor wet.
Polyurethane sealed hard wood floors should be mopped at least once every two weeks. Do not clean more often than your floors require. Remember, too much water will cause damage to a hard wood floor.
For waxed or oil penetrating sealed floors, you should vacuum regularly and then once or twice each year, strip the old wax and apply new wax.
In general, be sure to ask your company manufacturer the method they recommend to clean your hardwood floor. Improper care can nullify your warranty.
If you are thinking of making a change in your home’s flooring, click here. Carolina Flooring knows all about not only hardwood but all types of flooring. They have the answers and they can tell you what type of flooring will work best in your home. They can also tell you how to maintain that floor. Click on the icon below now to find out more!
Photo courtesy of jencu