Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

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Hardwood floors can add charm to any home providing a richness and natural beauty that carpet just cannot match. Wood floors are durable and will last a long time with a minimal amount of care given to keep the floors in good condition. When cleaning hardwood floors, remember that care can be broken down into three types: daily care, quarterly care, and preventative maintenance. You do not have to spend hours cleaning your hardwood floors each day – with a cleaning schedule you can provide yourself a set of guidelines to follow to ensure the best life for your floors, and allow yourself to concentrate on the other important things that must get done every day (dinner, laundry, etc).

Each day, dirt, grit, and sand are brought into the home on the bottoms of shoes, and then scattered throughout the house by normal activity. For large families, the amount of dirt and grime is greater, and is most often deposited in high-traffic areas (such as the kitchen or entryway). This grit will scratch a hardwood floor, dulling the finish. To remove the dirt and sand, sweep the floors with a soft broom about three times per week (everyday works if you’re up for it!), and vacuum regularly using the soft-bristled hose attachment. Even if your vacuum can be set for hardwood floors, the spinning bristles on an upright may damage the floor, so using the hose attachment with the soft brush is best. To catch the dirt and grime on the way in, put rugs or mats in entryways and hallways, and vacuum those regularly as well. A major enemy of hardwood floors is water, so if a beverage is spilled on the floor or a child tracks snow in, make sure to wipe up the moisture immediately (this will probably require more work during the winter months). If the beverage is sticky or sugary, wipe up the spill with a damp towel, and then dry the area with a clean cloth. If the liquid is left on the hardwood floor for a long enough time, it can seep between the floorboards and cause warping.

Unfortunately, regular sweeping still does not prevent grease and dirt build-up on a hardwood floor, so a deeper cleaning should be done every three months. Any cleaning product used on hardwoods should have a neutral pH, and one specifically formulated for wood floors is the best choice. Follow the instructions on the cleaning label, use a soft mop, and apply the cleaner/water solution sparingly. If after cleaning the wood floors feel sticky or like there is a residue, use a vinegar rinse with ¼ cup white or cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Mopping with regular detergents or any cleaner with ammonia can strip the finish of the floors, so carefully read labels before applying any cleaner to your hardwood floors. Floors with a wax finish (most new floors and many older do not require this because they have a polyurethane coating) will require buffing approximately twice a year; follow manufacturer recommendations on waxing and buffing. If you happen to find a spot of floor with a stain, clean with your chosen wood cleaner, rinse with the vinegar solution, and then dry with a clean towel. Rub fine-grain sand paper along the wood (following the grain) until the stain is no longer apparent. Buff with a cloth, and then apply wax or finish to protect the area.

Though daily and quarterly cleaning of hardwood floors is very important, preventative maintenance is the only way to avoid major floor issues. Hardwood floors can be dented and gouged by heavy items, so try to protect the floors from hard contact. Use felt pads under table and chair legs so that the chairs can be slid easily without scratching the floors. Never drag furniture across the wood, always pick it up instead. Also, women can dent floors with their high heels so avoid wearing shoes with a spiky or narrow heel on hardwood floors. When throwing a party, ask guests to remove their shoes. Well placed area rugs and runners can also help to protect the floor from dings and dents from routine activity. Sunlight can also damage wood floors by discoloration; if your floors are exposed to south or west facing windows, consider closing the blinds or drapes when the sun shines brightly.

With a little extra care every now and then, your hardwood floors can maintain their high quality, looking new for many years to come. With some well placed rugs, a light sweep every couple days, and a good scrub every three months, cleaning hardwood floors can be simple, and you will even have enough time to enjoy their rich beauty everyday.

Preser ving Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring has become the norm in most home construction today because of its rich character and elegance. The choices and styles of hardwood floors seem to be unlimited. At one time oak was the only choice in hardwood flooring but today we can choose from a dozen different types of wood, both solid wood and laminated wood.

Hardwood floors are easy to maintain and will last for years with periodic maintenance but they must be protected from destructive elements such as water, dirt, grime, and heavy foot traffic to maintain their natural beauty and insure longevity. Properly cleaning hardwood floors will go a long way in protecting the finished surface years.

Protecting your hardwood flooring is as important as cleaning them properly. Area carpets and runners should be used in high traffic areas such as entryways and halls to preserve hardwood floors. Heavy foot traffic and grime will quickly destroy most floor finishes. Spillage of water must be removed immediately to prevent water marks and stains. Most hardwood flooring turns dark or black as a result of water and other liquid spillage and is troublesome to remove.

When choosing area carpets and runners insure that the color and style compliment the room and furnishings as well as provide floor protection. Place them where there is water splashes or spillage such as in front of bathroom and kitchen sinks. Avoid rubber-backed carpets and mats as they can damage wood floors. Area carpets and runners must be vacuumed or shaken often to remove dirt and grime.

Hardwood floors are usually finished with water based polyurethane varnish or an acrylic finish. If the finish is an oil base finish it also has a final coat of wax. Hardwood floors may be left natural with only a polyurethane varnish finish or stained prior to applying the polyurethane varnish. In either case the finish is hard and durable and will last for many years before refinishing is necessary, if ever. Proper hardwood floor cleaning is imperative if you want them to look bright and new.

Hardwood floor cleaning:

    Sweep or vacuum floors often, once or twice a week. Use a soft bristle broom for sweeping to avoid scratching. Remove all traces of water or liquid spillage immediately with a soft towel and dry thoroughly. Use a damp string mop, not excessively wet, to mop polyurethane and oil finished wood floors. Avoid letting excess water seep into the seams. Shake out and vacuum area rugs and runners so dirt doesnt filter down through the weave and scratch the wood floor underneath. Although polyurethane wood floors are not usually waxed, a dulled or scratched area may be treated by applying a coat of liquid or paste wax and buffed. Spot refinishing may be necessary.

Preserving Hardwood Wood floor tips:

Do not wear heavy shoes or high heels on hardwood floors that may cause dents.

Never drag furniture or other objects across wood floors. Use gliding furniture pads underneath furniture legs to aid moving across the floor.

Install floor mats or area carpets at each entrance from outside so you dont track in dirt from the bottoms of shoes.

Be careful when using furniture wax or sprays. If the overspray dries on the wood floor it will become extremely slippery.

Follow manufacturer recommendations to treat flooring scratches and dents. If the finish is damaged by water, it may be difficult to repair.

Remove stains and water marks by light sanding and reapply finish and wax.

Do not use oil soaps, ammonia cleaners, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners on wood floors.

If the floor is severely damaged by water, stains, or scratches consider refinishing the entire floor. If the floor is a laminated wood floor use extreme care to prevent damaging the top layer

Wood floors are beautiful and add a lot of character to the home. To insure years of use they must be maintained and cleaned periodically.

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