There’s something incredibly elegant about dark hardwood floors. Chic yet classic, darker stains and woods are popular trends that keep picking up steam as we head into the new year. There’s no doubt that dark hardwood flooring adds a level of sophistication to your home, but they also take quite a bit of work.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider dark hardwood. Obsidian oak makes a warm and classy statement in the master bedroom, for example. As you think about your options, here are some care tips to keep dark hardwood looking its very best.
Dark Wood Hides Dirt, But Shows Everything Else
It’s true that you won’t see as much dirt on your dark hardwood flooring, but just about everything else will stick out much clearer. Dust and dander, pet hair, scratches and scuffs from pets’ claws or shoes, even footprints left by bare feet—dark hardwood won’t mask any of it. This means your dark hardwood will need a consistent care routine to keep up its appearance. Set aside time every week to care for your floors to minimize the appearance of, well, everything but actual dirt.
Plan Ahead, If You Can
If you’re a bit more lax on your cleaning schedule, there are other ways make not-quite-spotless floors a bit less obvious. Step one is to forego that high-gloss finish. Glossy finish acts like a spotlight for any dust or scratches, bringing more attention to them than matte or satin finishes will. Avoid the gloss so you can eke out a few more days between cleanings.
You might also consider combining dark hardwood with another popular trend: distressed wood. Distressed flooring is new wood that’s been hand-scraped to mimic the look and feel of older, more worn-in hardwood flooring. It adds a rustic, lived-in feel to houses that can be a real winner when combined with dark hardwood. This does mean living with floors that look older, even when they’re brand new, but the tradeoff is that your floor won’t loudly advertise every new scratch or speck of dust.
Gather Your Supplies
Once you’ve got your dark hardwood installed and your cleaning schedule planned out, it’s time to get to work. This is what you’ll need to do to keep that dark hardwood looking beautiful:
- Vacuum with a hardwood floor attachment: Sucking up dust and dirt is the first step in keeping your dark flooring clean. Invest in a vacuum with strong suction, and make sure it has an attachment especially for hardwood floors. These attachments will have soft bristles that won’t scratch the wood or damage any finish you may put on. Try to vacuum once per week to keep dust to a minimum.
- Keep a dry, microfiber mop hand: Immediately follow up that vacuuming session by mopping with a dry microfiber mop. If you do use a wet mop, make sure you wring it out thoroughly. The water could damage the wood, warping it out of shape or causing the boards to bow. This will pick up any dust your vacuum may have missed, and will help get rid of footprints or other smudge marks. A thorough, once-per-week mopping session should be enough to keep your dark hardwood floors looking great.
- Skip the soap and water: While we’re on the topic of mopping, make sure to stay away from soap and water. Water might damage the floorboards, and soap will leave a translucent, filmy residue all over your floors. Don’t spend your time cleaning your floors with soap, only to have to go back and clean all the soap off.
- Use hardwood floor cleaner: Instead of soap, invest in a good hardwood floor cleaner. It’s specifically designed to clean and protect your hardwood floors without damaging them, making them a more effective way of keeping your home clean. They’re also specifically designed to protect any finish on your floorboards, so it’ll extend the life of your new floors.
- Stock up on microfiber dusting cloths, too: Dust cloths are real life-savers for mishaps that occur between maintenance cleanings. Whether it’s more dust tracked in or a few extra shoeprints, having some extra cloths around can help with spot-cleaning and emergency messes, so you don’t have to drag out the mop and vacuum more often that you need to.
If you’re leaning toward installing dark hardwood flooring in your home, there’s one more line of defense you have at your disposal: the mighty area rug. Dark hardwood usually isn’t recommended for high-traffic areas like entryways or dining areas because they’re so vulnerable to scuffing and grime.
However, you can offset some of that damage by placing an attractive rug in the areas that get the most foot traffic. An area rug right in front of your door can help cut down on the amount of dirt tracked in to your entry way. Or, a well-placed rug under the dining room table and chairs will go a long way in protecting your dark hardwood from scratches and spills.
Dark wood may need a bit more maintenance, but don’t let that deter you if you really have your heart set on it. As long as it’s cared for properly, dark hardwood flooring can be a dream come true.