Hardwood Floor Care & Maintenance
With today’s advances in wood flooring stains and finishes, cleaning your wood floors has never been easier. Regular maintenance requires little more than sweeping with a soft bristle broom, and vacuuming with a soft floor attachment if your wood floor includes a beveled edge that could collect debris. You also should clean your floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional.
There are other steps you can take to minimize maintenance and maintain the beauty of your wood floors as well.
- Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.
- Use throw rugs both inside and outside doorways to help prevent grit, dirt and other debris from being tracked onto your wood floors. This will prevent scratching.
- Do not wet-mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.
- Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.
- Do not over-wax a wood floor. If a wax floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other light traffic areas by applying wax in these spots every other waxing session.
- Put soft plastic or fabric-faced glides under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching.
- Avoid walking on your wood floors with cleats, sports shoes and high heels. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
- When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to prevent scratches.
- For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug in front of the kitchen sink.
- Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to minimize gaps or cracks.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are polyurethane or other surface finishes maintained?
Surface finishes like polyurethane require only simple care. Just dustmop, sweep, or vacuum regularly. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations if known. When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish. The frequency of recoating depends on the amount of traffic. Never wax a surface-finished floor, and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.
How are wax or penetrating-stain finishes maintained?
Dustmop or vacuum regularly, and use a buffer to maintain the shine. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations if known. If buffing no longer restores shine, you may need to rewax. If so, apply a cleaner and liquid wax specifically for wood floors. Apply the wax evenly, allow the floor to dry, and buff to the desired luster. Depending on traffic, a properly maintained wood floor should need waxing once or twice a year. Be careful not to over-wax a wood floor. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.
How do I prevent my hardwood from becoming discolored?
Wood is a photosensitive product of nature. Over time, depending on the species, the color may change by either darkening or lightening. Proper species selection and finish is critical for long term aesthetics.
During the first year, move or rotate area rugs to help darken floors evenly throughout your home. Over time, lighter unexposed areas will blend in with darker areas and a consistent color will be achieved within the entire room.
How can I clean a discolored or soiled wax finish?
If the wax finish is discolored or has dirt build-up, use a combination liquid cleaner/wax made specifically for wood flooring. Make sure it is solvent rather than water-based. Spread the liquid cleaner/wax with a cloth or fine steel wool and rub gently to remove grime and old wax. Wipe the floor clean, let it dry for about 20 minutes, and then buff.
Can cleaning products for vinyl or tile floors be used on wood floors as well?
No. Never use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. And never use self-polishing acrylic waxes on wood floors. These waxes cause wood to become slippery and dull. In this case, the floor must be sanded and refinished.
Can a wood floor be damp-mopped?
Never damp mop a waxed floor. When cleaning a surface-finished floor, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. You may generally use a dampened (near dry) mop to maintain a wood floor; however excessive moisture will cause damage. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood, and leave a discoloring residue. If water spills on a wood floor, immediately wipe it up with a clean cloth.
How can I prevent scratches on wood flooring?
Placemats and throw rugs at doorways to help protect wood floors from grit, dirt, and sand. Place felt pads under furniture legs and vacuum/dust your wood floor regularly.
How can I repair scratches or stains on wood flooring?
First aid for wood floors depends on the type of surface. In the following chart, solutions in the middle column are for floors finished with wax or
penetrating stains. Solutions in the right-hand column are for floors finished with polyurethane or other surface finishes.
Note: When removing stains from any wood floor, always begin at the outer edge of the stain and work toward the middle. Always use the wood flooring manufacturer’s cleaning, repair and finish products when known.
|Problem||Solution: Wax or Penetrating Stain||Solution: Surface Finish|
|Scratches||Wax the affected area.||Repair with a touch-up kit for urethane finishes, available from any wood flooring retailer.|
|Dried milk or food stains||Gently rub with a damp cloth, then rub dry and wax.||Use a cleaner developed specifically for urethane finishes. For stubborn spots, scrub using the urethane cleaner and a scrub pad made for urethane floors.|
|Water stains or white spots||Rub the spot with #000 steel wool and wax. If this fails, lightly sand with fine sandpaper and clean the area using #00 steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner. Allow the floor to dry, then stain, wax, and hand buff.||Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.|
|Heel scuffs||Rub in a small amount of wax with fine steel wool and hand buff to a shine.||Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.|
|Mold or mildew||Rub with a wood cleaner.||Use a cleaner developed for urethane finishes. If the mold or mildew lies underneath the surface finish, sand and refinish the area.|
|Chewing gum, crayon, or candle wax||Apply a plastic bag filled with ice until the deposit is brittle enough to crumble off. (Solvent-based wax can also be applied to loosen the deposit.) Remove crayon or candle wax by placing an ink blotter on the wax and applying a hot pressing iron to the top of the blotter.||Apply a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the deposit until it is brittle enough to crumble off. Clean the area with a product made for urethane finishes.|
|Oil and grease stains||First rub area with kitchen soap having a high lye content or saturate cotton with hydrogen peroxide and place over the stain. Then saturate a second layer of cotton with ammonia and place over the first. Repeat until stain is removed. Let the area dry and then hand buff.||Follow instructions for dried milk or food stains.|
|Dark spots and ink stains||Try the water spots treatment. If the spot remains, apply a household bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak for an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth, wipe dry and smooth with fine sandpaper. Stain, wax and hand buff.||Follow direction for dried milk or food stains.|
|Wax buildup||Strip the old wax away with odorless mineral spirits or a wood floor product made for stripping wax. Use cloth and fine steel wool to remove all residue. After the floor is dry, wax and buff.||Not applicable.|
|High Heel Shoe Dents||1/4 inch spike heels will cause dents that require professional repair.||1/4 inch spike heels will cause dents that require professional repair.|