Spring is here. With it, comes the ever faithful "April Showers", which in most areas of the country equates to mud and dirt.
So now is an ideal time to review some of the best ways to protect your wood floors. With the proper cleaning and protection you can significantly increase the life of the finish, and minimize your maintenance and repair costs.
Today, we’ll show you 5 ways to take the best care of your floor. Most of which are DIY-friendly!
1. Entry & Traffic
You can’t cut down on traffic into your home.
All you can do is manage the traffic as it enters and give everyone the proper tools to keep harmful elements off the wood. Here are a few products that might come in handy.
Plastic Boot Storage Mat
Also, be sure to keep a mop handy, something like a Swiffer to pick up water, spills, and mud as it happens.
Pets bring so much joy to a household, but when Spring comes it’s not hard to see where Fido took his last nap, with the dried up mud puddle on your wood floors.
It is important to keep dirt and debris off the floors, because it can act as sandpaper with continued traffic. So if you aren’t one of the lucky few with a custom mudroom, complete with a dog shower, you are going to have to deal with this indefinitely. But who wants to sweep and mop every day! Why not invest in a little technology and consider an iRobot. It will be the most expensive mop you have every purchased, but could well save you a lot of time cleaning each week.
Another area of concern when it comes to pets is pet bowls. Wood floors are becoming increasingly popular in the kitchen due to the comfort, beauty and longevity, and there are easy (and stylish) solutions, like decorative vinyl mats, to protect your wood floors from water.
Always be sure to test the cleaning agent you are using, in an inconspicuous area of your hardwood floors, to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage.
Unless your furniture consists of oversized Turkish pillows, chances are you are going to have furniture of all styles, sizes and weight sitting on top of your wood floors.
Furniture tends to show up with metal glides on the bottom, or just Raw wood. When this rests on the flooring, and especially if it can move around (even slightly) from day to day, it can cause mild to severe abrasion on the surface of your flooring. Initially, this will cause scuff marks on the finish, but can eventually start to actually scuff the wood flooring itself. This could mean that you need to refinish your floors sooner than later.
To help minimize, and potentially avoid this entirely you must invest in protective pads for the bottom of your furniture. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been quite as modernized as most interior décor accessories. While we wait for the next best thing, check out UK-Based Charles and Marie and their trendy chair socks. Magic sliders works well if you know you need to move furniture often. Then you’ve got the old standby with felt bottoms.
Some furniture protectors are installed via adhesive, while other just rest under the furniture, or they can be screwed into the bottom furniture. Either way, make sure you can replace the soft, protective layer between the furniture and the flooring to ensure you can install a new pad when the other one wears out. Also make sure you don’t install any adhesive material directly to your floor, this is impossible to remove and can eat away at your finish over time.
You can also consider installing decorative rugs under your primary furniture, like this home from Studio Santalla, featuring Carlisle Hickory flooring.
If you use rugs, be sure to avoid those with an abrasive backing, which can scratch your flooring finish.
Hardwood flooring is one of the easiest flooring styles for your home. They are easy to clean, they don’t collect dust and debris like other floor covering, such as carpet, which also keep your home healthier.
Unfortunately, there is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to finding the right cleaner for your floor, it all depends on the type of finish you have on your floor. It is best to seek out the recommendations from the flooring manufacturer for instructions. They may even sell their own hardwood flooring cleaner so you know exactly what to use.
As a general Typically, you want to avoid very hard chemicals and cleaners, which can eat away at your finish. Vinegar and warm water is often the best cleaning solution. Avoid waxes, unless that is a specific component of your maintenance plan, as these are difficult to clean and maintain.
No matter what cleaning methods you use, avoid using excess water during the process.
5. Finish Maintenance
The frequency of your flooring maintenance will depend on the type of floor and finish you have.
But there are three other things to consider as well, and hopefully you learned this before your installed your floor:
• What are the maintenance requirements
Each style of wood floor can have its own maintenance requirements, some of which can also depend on your personal preference.
Pine flooring, for example, is meant to develop a vintage look, so most people will allow the floor to age for a longer period of time before recoating the finish. With more modern flooring styles, like hardwood, you may want to maintain them more regularly. Commercial spaces also have different requirements than residential spaces.
• Can the floor be sanded and recoated
Wood flooring today is not created equal. A large majority of floors are mass produced resulting in a thin piece of flooring, with an even thinner wear layer - the top layer of wood that you walk on. Sometimes this wear layer is only a few pieces of paper thick! These floors are appealing due to their low cost, but the reality is, once the finish wears out you cannot sand and refinish them. So the long term costs of owning this type of floor may actually be higher than other wood floors, because of the cost of replacement. Typically, you want to make sure your floor has at least a 3/16" wear layer, which will allow for 3 sandings, if needed, over the life of the floor.
• Do you need to sand the floor to refinish it
Wood floors are also finished with a variety of different sealers - tung oil, polyurethane, aluminum oxide. Floors that are finished with aluminum oxide are the hardest to “touch up” and often require sanding, which is messy, not to mention the interruption in the home. Floors, like Carlisle Prefinished hardwood floors finished with Carlisle Custom Coat urethane, don’t need to be sanded when you want to touch up your floor.
Spring is a great time of year to refresh your floors, if its time to touch them up. There are two ways to do it. The first, is an actual touch up of heavy wear areas such as by your front door or in the front kitchen sink. The second, is an entire recoat of your floor. The latter is the most disruptive, but some clients choose to do on a fixed schedule, perhaps every few years when they know they will be on vacation. Most of the time though you can easily maintain specific areas in the home, so you won't need to recoat the entire as frequently.