We’ve all heard that hardwood flooring can have a reputation for being high maintenance, however, the most effective techniques for upkeep are not very difficult or time consuming. Although, since wood floors do require regular cleaning, periodic polishing and hardwood floor refinishing after several years, we’ve put together five of the best tips and techniques for maintaining your hardwood floors for the long run.
1. Use Microfiber To Clean Up Dirt and Debris
Remove dirt and debris from hardwood using microfiber cloths or mop pads to avoid scratching the finish. A broom only pushes dirt around, and bristles may abrade the floor. Microfiber has an upper hand because it uses electrostatic (a.k.a. “science”) to trap and remove particles. Try to avoid lifting the dry mop pad off of the floor during use to get rid of as much dirt as possible.
To determine how often to clean hardwood floors, you should factor in daily traffic in each room. Extremely high-traffic areas may call for daily cleaning, although you can also lay down a rug over a natural, hardwood-safe pad made of rubber or latex to protect the parts of the floor that are used most frequently. All houses are different, but doing this may make it possible to clean less often, though it will still be necessary to remove debris from rugs and mats on a regular basis.
2. Clean Up and Dry Spills Immediately
This should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. Clean up all spills as soon as possible. You really don't want to have to deal with water damage on your floors. It’s a pretty clean-cut and straight forward rule that should be followed in any house with hardwood floors. Standing liquids can damage or discolor any floor, so immediate use of a dry microfiber cloth to quickly absorb liquids is highly recommended. For sticky liquids, simply wipe up with a microfiber cloth that is damp, but not wet, followed by a dry cloth.
3. Never Wet Mop or Use Oil Soap
Avoiding wet mopping may be one of the most significant adjustments to hardwood flooring. Even a mop that has been wrung out is too damp for hardwood floors. Mist a minimal amount of a liquid cleaner that is safe to use with the protective sealant on your floor over a small area and wipe down with a dry mop.
Avoid oil soap products, ammonia or vinegar. Ammonia or vinegar dull flooring finishes while oil soaps permeate the finish, exposing wood to damage and leaving a residue that is very difficult to remove. Some products, such as Bona, are safe to use on most hardwoods, although, homeowners should still check to make sure cleaning products are suitable for finishes and the brand of flooring materials selected during the purchase process.
4. Polish Every Few Months
Polish hardwood flooring every two to three months depending on use in order to renew the protective finish, fills in scratches and evens out the surface. We generally recommend floors that are used often be polished more frequently, while rooms with less traffic may be able to go longer between applications.
A buffing pad can be an effective way to eliminate scratches from a hardwood floor between refinishing treatments, although you always want to be sure to use products suited for the type of finish on flooring. Avoid applying wax to floors with a glossy urethane finish, but keep in mind that a new layer of this type of finish may be necessary every few years once regular cleaning and polishing no longer restores surface shine.
5. Sand and Refinish Every Five to Ten Years
A hardwood floor can sustain damage that is too ingrained to be buffed away. Refinishing is the only way to reduce or eliminate significant discoloration, deep scratches or gouges. It may be necessary to sand and refinish hardwood flooring every three to seven years.
Homeowners should hire hardwood floor refinishing experts to do this job to ensure the longevity of the new surface finish and the flooring materials underneath. The number of times flooring can be sanded down and refinished depends on the core of the wood. It may be possible to get up to 10 years out of a surface finish if a homeowner regularly cleans the floor, protects high-traffic areas and circulates furniture and floor coverings to avoid uneven exposure to UV damage.
The secret to hardwood flooring that looks great and lasts a long time is to regularly clean floors with dry microfiber cloths or mop pads and occasionally use a suitable polish. If a floor is kept clean, doesn’t have an enormous amount of traffic, and the cleaning products used do not pose a risk of damage, you can probably go longer between polishing sessions and refinishing treatments. This is especially the case if you protect areas exposed to traffic or moisture. We assure you - if you follow these steps, you will be able to maintain your beautiful hardwood floors for decades.