How To Care for Hardwood Floors by The Craftsman Bob Vila Nation

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How To: Care for Hardwood Floors

We do a lot of hardwood floor refinishing at Austin Home Restorations. and I often get asked by clients how they should care for their newly refinished wood floors. There is a specific timeline of how to treat and care for a wood floor after it was just refinished. In this post I’ll outline what chemicals or actions are safe for your hardwood floors and when they become safe.

How Long After Refinishing Will My Wood Floors Be Ready?

All of these timelines are dependent on environmental conditions though. This is an average only! If your weather is warmer and drier than average, then you can speed up the timeline a bit (but not too much). And inversely, if it is cooler and more humid, you’ll have to wait longer for your floors to be ready.

  • Up to 12 Hrs After Coating. Floors should NOT be walked on at all and adequate ventilation must be provided to allow the finish to dry properly.
  • 12 to 36 Hrs After Coating. Floors should be dry to the touch and are safe to walk on in socks or stockings. No shoes!
  • 36 Hrs After Coating. Floors are safe for light foot traffic with shoes, but high heels and furniture should be avoided if at all possible.
  • 1 Week After Coating. Furniture can be replaced and normal activities can be resumed. However, avoid placing rugs on the floors until 1 month after finishing. Also, avoid using vacuums, any cleaners, or even mopping the floor during this period. A broom and dust pan will suffice for now.
  • 1 Month After Coating. Set your rugs, use your vacuum, mop your floor. Anything goes at this point. The finish has cured enough and is as hard and free of VOCs as it will ever be.

General Care Do’s & Don’ts

After your newly refinished wood floors have fully cured and life has gone back to normal, there are a few things you can do to make sure the finish on your floors lasts. There are only so many times you can sand and finish a floor before you sand right through the floor. So by taking care of your new finish, you can extend the life of your floors and save thousands of dollars by putting off a refinishing for an extra 10+ years.

  • Sweep Regularly. Dust and dirt that sit on your floor get walked on and ground into the finish. It can quickly wear down your finish.
  • Mop Regularly. Depending on how dirty your house gets, you need to be mopping your wood floors about every month. There are plenty of good wood floor cleaners to use, but I recommend Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner .
  • Use Felt. Put felt pads on the feet of any furniture you have that will be residing on your floors to prevent scratching and denting from the furniture.
  • Change Rolling Chair Wheels. If you have a rolling chair, you likely need to get new rollers. The typical nylon rollers on most chairs will scratch and destroy a wood floor’s finish. A set of polyurethane casters will smooth out your ride and protect your wood floors.
  • Leave Spills For Long. If you spilled food or liquid on your wood floors, clean it up right away. The wood is protected on the face, but if it seeps into the cracks and isn’t dried, soon the wood can stain or swell or both. Pets are often the biggest offenders in this area.
  • Use Oil Cleaners. Cleaners with oil in them, such as Murphy’s Oil Soap, can create an oily residue on your floors that is often difficult to remove. These cleaners were great for floors when the finish was mainly wax, but with a polyurethane floor, you don’t want these as part of your cleaning regimen.
  • Drag Anything. Ever. A surefire way to put a gash in your finish is to drag or slide a piece of furniture across your floor. Even if you put something soft underneath, the item you might have a little bit of sand or dirt that gets dragged along and puts fine scratches in your finish.

Without this basic care, you may end up needing a hardwood floor repair or board replacement and that begins to get expensive. Wood floors can last centuries if taken care of properly. So follow these simple guidelines and your floors will be a blessing and not a curse for as long as you hang your hat there.

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