How to Care for Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are a beautiful and practical option for many homeowners. But this flooring material requires regular upkeep to remain shiny and healthy. Follow these tips to make sure your hardwood floors are flawless for years to come.

Avoid Scratches & Scuffs

If you’re not careful, hardwood surfaces can easily scratch and scuff. While this type of damage won’t destroy your flooring perminantly, it takes away from its appearance and may require sanding and refinishing. Here’s a few things you can do to protect your floors:

  1. Use felt pads on the bottom of furniture. This will protect your floor from dents and scrapes and also make it easier to move that heavy sofa. Make sure you never slide furniture across hardwood surfaces without felt pads.
  2. If you can help it, don’t walk on your wood flooring with high heels or sports cleats. Take your shoes off or tread lightly to avoid dents.
  3. Place a doormat outside every entrance to catch debris like dirt, sand, and salt particles. This debris can cling to your wood floor and slowly wear through the finish.
  4. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed and their paws clean.

Keep a Consistent Indoor Temperature

Wood flooring can react to temperature and humidity changes inside your home. The floors absorb and lose moisture much like a living tree! The surface can swell and expand with high humidity, which can push the floorboards up and cause the floor to buckle. This eventually leads to gaps in your damaged floorboards.

If you are too hot or too cold, chances are your hardwood flooring might be too. Keep your home at a consistent, comfortable temperature, even when you’re away. So don’t turn off the AC or turn the thermostat down to freezing while you’re on vacation. You might come home to some seriously warped floor boards.

Generally, you should keep your house between 60-80 degrees with a humidity range of 35 to 55 percent.

Follow Regular Maintenance

The best way to ensure your hardwood floors stay in good condition is to take care of them regularly. That means adopting a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning regime to remove dust, dirt, and other particles. A vacuum, broom, or microfiber sweeper (like a Swiffer) are all solid options. If you choose to use a vacuum, make sure to use an attachment with a brush or a felt surface. Rotating brushes or a beater bar can scratch the finish on your floor.

Avoid cleaning with a wet mop or steam mop. Water and steam can dull the finish and damage the wood. You should also stay away from vinyl or tile floor cleaning products. Never try to rejuvenate hardwood with wax-based or oil-based cleaning products. When you use wax on shellac, varnish, or polyurethane, it makes the floor too slippery and is difficult to remove. Find a product that will work well for your floor’s finish. It’s also a good idea to test the product on a small surface area before applying to the entire floor.

After a while, typically 3-5 years, hardwood will start to lose its luster and shine. When that happens, it’s time to hire a professional to apply a new coat of finish.

While hardwood can hold up for many years, eventually all hardwood surfaces will need to be sanded and refinished. But with proper care, that job only needs to happen every few decades!

Other Helpful Tips

  • Rearrange furniture and rugs periodically to evenly expose your wood flooring to sunlight.
  • Use a humidifier during the winter months to prevent gapping in the floorboards.
  • Protect your floor and spruce up your space with area rugs. But make sure they don’t have a rubber or vinyl backing. These materials can trap humidity and damage the wood.