Hardwood floors are beautiful to look at, durable and they complement almost any décor. They come in a wide variety such as oak, maple, mahogany and cherry. Hardwood can last for several years, even decades, and should not be confused with softwood such as cedar and pine.
Softwood is also tough and durable; however, it is sustainably grown, thus more environmentally friendly. Below are some tips to use to preserve hardwood floors and keep them looking like new.
Prevention is Best
When caring for hardwood floor, prevention is always best. Even though hardwood floors are tough and durable, they require some preventative measures to keep them looking their best. Use door mats at entry ways to trap dirt, debris and water.
Use rugs and runners in high-traffic areas such as playrooms, walkways and pet areas.
Bear in mind that pets, shoe heels, rearrangement of furniture, and even small debris can leave scratches on wood surfaces. Avoid installing hardwood in areas where water is often used, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Regular maintenance once a week with a vacuum or soft mop made of microfibre will get rid of dust, dirt, hair and other debris. Minimise water marks by quickly wiping up spills and leaks, and opt for non-spill containers for children. Remove simple stains with a mop that is damp to the touch, not saturated with water.
This simple routine is enough to keep floors in tip top shape, regardless of wood type. Heavy stains, on the other hand, require wood cleaners or a solution of vinegar and water.
How to Remove Scratches and Tough Stains
There is a wide range of manufactured products on the market geared at cleaning hardwood. They generally perform similar functions so it really comes down to brand loyalty. Wax-coated wood should be cleaned by applying a thin coat of compound that removes stubborn stains while adding a fresh layer of wax.
Floors coated in polyurethane should be cleaned with vinegar and water. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction carefully to get optimal results and protect any warranty. These products are useful for removing tough spots and grime (oil based) as well as scuffs and marks. Be sparing when applying any cleaners to the floor.
Use a fine-grade sand paper to remove scratches that have penetrated below the surface. Simply clean the area and buff with sand paper, in the direction of the natural grain. Once done, apply wax to the area to fill in the scratch and blend well.
Once the wax hardens, buff with a soft mop or cloth. Deeper scratches do not respond to sanding alone, and will require a wood filler or putty to fill in scratches. Use a putty knife to apply the product and let it set before buffing with fine-grade sandpaper. Finish with a thin coat of lacquer, such as shellac or any product of your choice.
Hardwood floors add a touch of timeless elegance to any home. If you follow these simple tips you will care for your hardwood floors like a pro, and enjoy your investment for decades to come.