Wood floors are some of the most versatile floor coverings in homes, apartments, and condos. Available in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and styles, a hardwood floor fits nearly any decor from rustic western log homes to elegant villas full of antiques and priceless treasures. Wood floors flow nicely from kitchens to living rooms to bedrooms and are pretty with or without area rugs. Hardwood floors are expensive and challenging to install, but they bring lasting charm and warmth to a home if they are protected and cared for properly.
To protect your wood floors, install small rugs or doormats before each outside entrance to trap dirt and debris brought in by shoes or pets. In fact, it helps to have a rug outside the door as well, for double protection. Shake out these rugs often, so the dirt won’t build up. All furniture sitting on the hardwood floor should have felt pads installed under the legs and should be checked occasionally for wear or for dirt and debris.
Never drag furniture across the floor; instead, if the furniture can’t be completely lifted up, clean the floor thoroughly, and then use sliding furniture pads underneath to slide it smoothly. Sweep the wood floors often with a fine bristle broom, and dust mop frequently; dirt and grit are abrasive on your wood floor’s shiny, polyurethane finish.
Area rugs add to the coziness and charm of hardwood floors, and they can be very helpful in the protection of high traffic areas. Vacuum the rugs often so dirt won’t work its way down, acting like sandpaper on the floor under the rug. Wood floors can be vacuumed as well, just make sure to use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner without beater bars.
Using water on wood floors is a subject of debate, but experts agree that standing water is the floor’s worst enemy. Never allow water to stand on your hardwood floor: wipe spills immediately and then dry the area thoroughly. If sweeping and vacuuming just doesn’t seem to be enough for you, use a damp mop, but see that it is merely damp, and not wet.
After sweeping thoroughly, slightly dampen the mop and run it lightly over your floors. If the finish is in good condition, this won’t hurt the wood, but if the finish has been compromised, it is better to avoid water altogether.
In efforts to protect their hardwood floors, many homeowners insist that both family members and visitors remove their shoes at the door. High heels and heavy winter boots can dent or damage the floor, and even people with the best intentions of wiping their feet clean, will find tiny amounts of grit on the bottoms of their shoes. If you feel uncomfortable with this rule, keep a shelf or basket of socks and slippers available for your guests to wear.
If a hardwood floor is dented, scratched, or damaged, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for repairs or treatment. Some wood floors may require occasional buffing or waxing, and again, check with the manufacturer for your wood floor to find out the correct method to use. Every floor is different and the proper care means a long life.
In caring for your wood floors, simply remember to sweep often, use a dust mop, wipe spills immediately, and install pads under all your furniture. Following these simple tips will ensure a lasting, beautiful hardwood floor for years to come.