Real hardwood floors are a gem in the housing world. Most people love them, and with good reason. They’re incredibly beautiful and extremely durable, often lasting well over 50 years! But they’re not immune to damage, and their well-being is up to the homeowner. If you have or are considering hardwood, consider these tips to get the most life out of your long-lasting floors!
1. Don’t Clean with Water!
Water and wood simply do not mix. Because it’s an organic material, the cellular structure of wood responds immediately to water. This often causes swelling, which often leads to decay. While hardwood surfaces are often sealed, the unsealed, raw wood on the sides and bottoms of the floorboards are what homeowners should worry about.
Most flooring experts will tell you to keep water away from hardwood at all costs. You can use a hardwood-specific cleaner and lightly mist it if you must, wiping it up quickly with a dry mop or rag, but do this very sporadically. Instead, clean your hardwood floors daily with a soft-bristled broom and dustpan. Vacuum once a week with a vacuum that has a hard flooring feature.
2. Clean Liquids Quickly!
Spills and leaks happen. It’s a fact of homeownership. If a small spill occurs on the surface of a floorboard, of course clean it quickly, but there’s no need to panic. It’s when the spill gets in between floorboards that it becomes a problem.
Floors that are installed before they’re sealed will have a smaller chance of water damage if a spill occurs, because the sealant has filled the seams. However, more and more people are opting for pre-finished wood flooring, and this does not have filled seams. Keep this in mind if you choose to build!
3. Mind Your Paws!
We all love our pets, but our hardwood floors don’t. Dogs tend to be the major culprit of deep, extensive notches in hardwood as their claws tend to be bigger, but cats cause damage too.
There are wood species that can stand up well against claw marks, such as Species like Brazilian walnut, maple, and bamboo (which is technically a grass), so if you have a furry friend be sure to check out these types. Utilize mats and rugs where your pets tend to gather (more on mats and rugs later) and be sure to have your pets’ nails clipped regularly, as this is the best way to reduce the damage.
Remember too that cuts and gashes in the floor can also be caused by sharp, pointy objects such as high heeled shoes and furniture legs.
4. Keep it Clean!
Abrasive materials that become embedded in your wooden floorboards can act as sandpaper over time, eroding and scuffing your floors. While sanding your hardwood can revitalize it, you don’t want it to be a regular occurrence, so where do these abrasive materials come from? Often, they come from the bottoms of our shoes! Consider implementing and/or enforcing a “no shoes in the house” policy to keep outside debris and unwanted particles outside of your home and away from your hardwood surfaces.
5. Mats, Rugs, and Runners – Oh My!
It may seem like endorsing rugs defeats the purpose of having hardwood floors, but it does not. You can still enjoy the rich, rustic look and feel of your hardwood while having a few rugs laid out. Where does your home get the most foot traffic? This is where you should consider laying something down, as these areas take on the most foot traffic. Entryways, mudrooms, interior hallways, under your kitchen sink, areas of your living room, under furniture…these are great spots to place non-slip mats, rugs, and runners to ensure the longevity and beauty of your hardwood floors for years to come.