Hard. Wood. Floors. They’re classic, they’re beautiful, they’re timeless, but if you don’t take care of them, you’ll be left with dull, dingy, scratched floors that do anything but add value to your home. To extend the life of your hardwood floors, you must develop a consistent habit of cleaning.
Sweeping daily is a critical step in regular maintenance of your hardwood floors. Small particles from your shoes will carry through your home and can easily scratch your floors. A good broom with soft, durable bristles is a wise investment to get the job done.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. The vacuum is not just for carpet. Use your vacuum extender attachments and round brush accessory to suck up the dust bunnies along the baseboards, as well as the particles between the floorboards that may have been missed while sweeping.
Wash or Wax
How you clean your hardwood floors depends on how the surface has been treated.
Surface-sealed floors are sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic to make them stain and water-damage resistant. Your floor installer has likely recommended a floor-cleaning product to use for cleaning, but sometimes it’s not possible to use those products either due to cost or availability. In that case, your best solution is soap and water.
Plain soap is mild enough that it won’t dull or scratch your finish, like other abrasive cleaners will. Just add a quarter cup of dishwashing soap to a bucket of water and start mopping. Make sure you wring the mop out completely before using it on your floors because even though your floor has been sealed, excessive water is still tough on wood.
Penetrating-seal, oil-treated, lacquered, shellacked, varnished and untreated floors require a bit more labor-intensive upkeep since these surfaces are not as resistant to moisture and general wear and tear, and therefore are generally treated with wax. About once or twice a year, you’re going to want to strip old wax buildup from the floor and apply a new, fresh coat of wax.
Start with a stripping off the old wax using a floor stripper. Once the floor has dried you can apply a thin coat of new wax and let it dry. For the best results, use a liquid wax or paste wax that is specifically designed for wood floors (acrylic or water-based waxes can discolor your woodwork).
The choice between the two waxes is really up to you. Liquid waxes leave a thinner coat, but they are easier to apply, whereas paste waxes leave a thicker coat giving more protection to your floor, but may take more work to apply. Keep in mind; you can always add a second coat of wax for added protection.
Once you begin a regiment for preserving your wood floors you will be so happy that you did. Other ways that you can protect your floors from unnecessary damage is by having a “no shoes in the house” policy. Using floor rugs and mats in high traffic areas such as entryways and hallways will shield specific areas from constant abuse.