While wood flooring can add value and elegance to a home, it also requires proper maintenance to retain its appearance. Unlike tile, linoleum and stone flooring, wood flooring requires more than a simple wipe down, which can not only be insufficient, but can also be harmful to the flooring. However, there are specific products and methods that exist to safely clean your flooring without damaging the wood or finish.
The best step to avoid dull flooring is prevention. To help prevent scratching, add felt faced guides to the bottom of all furniture. Chairs and tables dragged across your floor can drive deep gouges in the wood, permanently damaging it. Covering the legs of your furniture with protective guides will help reduce this scuffing and scratching.
As simple as it sounds, having people wipe their feet is also important. Dirt ground into your floor in high traffic areas can scratch the finish, causing unappealing dull spots. Put a rug by the front door for people to wipe their shoes on before they enter your home to help avoid damage. It also doesn’t hurt to encourage people to take their shoes off. Furthermore, when sweeping, use a broom with soft plastic bristles or feathers. Using traditional straw brooms can result in scratches. Putting a rug near the sink can prevent any damage that leaks and splashing can cause.
Regardless of the preventative measures taken, damage will occur. Spills and scratches are unavoidable, but easy to handle. Clean all spills with a damp cloth and dry the area thoroughly. Spills should be cleaned quickly as liquids can dull the finish of your floor and rot the wood if left long enough.
For larger messes and general periodic cleaning, different tactics can be employed based on the type of flooring you have. Modern floors with a polyurethane finish are far easier to maintain. Mopping with a water-based cleaner is often sufficient. Use a PH neutral cleaning agent to preserve your finish, mop lightly and buff dry.
For more damaged areas where the finish has been dulled or stripped, two possibilities present themselves. In some cases, a new coat of finish can be applied to the damaged areas and allowed to dry one to three weeks depending on the base of the finish. The same finish used initially on the flooring must be used when reapplying. A test spot can be used to see if this is a viable option.
If the finish on your test spot doesn't stick, the floor must be sanded before being refinished. Sand evenly in the damaged area to remove all remnants of the finish. Dust thoroughly, ensuring that no particles are trapped within the natural grain of the wood. Doing so will allow for both a smoother application and natural shine that highlights the beauty of the wood.
Protecting and properly maintaining the wood floor you cherish in your home is imperative to making sure it remains in top condition for many years to come.