Flooring Maintenance Tips
Optimizing the Look and Longevity of your Hardwoods
Flooring Maintenance Tips: Optimizing the Look and Longevity of your Hardwoods
Although hardwood flooring has a reputation for long-term durability and strength, in order to maximize the life of your investment, it is important to regularly clean and maintain them. Just like a car needs regular oil changes and tire rotations to perform at the top of its game, hardwood floors need proper care to optimize the efficiency of the protective finish and prevent water damage.
Hardwood floors should be regularly swept and mopped to prevent buildup of excessive dirt and grime. Not only can dusty residue dull the finish of hardwoods, but over time grease and grime can actually wear away the finish. Always be sure to use soft, non-abrasive cloth materials when mopping and avoid over saturating the mop, which will leave behind standing water.
The use of steam mops on hardwood floors is somewhat controversial, but the fact is that water can cause permanent, irreversible damage to wood. When there are so many safe alternatives to cleaning and disinfecting, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Never use harsh chemicals on your flooring that is not intended for hardwoods. Much like dirt and grease, improper cleaners can leave behind a thick residue and can also eat away at the protective finish, thus compromising the water resistance and putting your floors at risk for unwanted damage.
After cleaning, be sure to treat your hardwoods with a conditioning solution that moisturizes and prevents cracking. There is a plethora of specialty products that are exclusively designed for hardwood floors which can be found at many local retail stores, however a basic treatment with olive oil works just fine.
A popular DIY cleaning and conditioning method includes mopping your hardwoods with a concentrated tea mixture. The natural acids of the tea help to remove dirt and grime as well as restore natural color and sheen.
Flooring professionals recommend that you treat your hardwoods annually with a sealant which helps to prolong the strength and durability of the floors. Sealants can be purchased from your local hardware store and are very easy to apply with a mop or sponge and buff away with a dry cloth.
In between sealing, floors can also be polished to maintain a high gloss shine. Home owners may choose to polish as often as they like, but most floors only need a good polish once every 3 months or so.