How to Maximize the Longevity of your Hardwood Floors

If you have hardwood floors in your home, then you know how much beauty they add to your life. Hardwood floors also are an investment, as many home buyers are magnetically drawn to any property that boasts genuine hardwood flooring.

This type of flooring is especially durable, which is one of the reasons why so many people choose it. In fact, hardwood floors can literally last for a person’s lifetime and beyond as long as they are properly maintained.

Have you ever visited a historic home? Chances are good that it featured many gorgeous hardwood floors, some of which may have been original to the house. How is it possible for floors to last for a century or even longer?

Some of this longevity may be attributed to restoration efforts, but it’s also true that basic maintenance makes a huge difference.

Keep reading if you want your hardwood floors to be as beautiful as possible and last a lifetime. You’ll discover that a little bit of maintenance goes a long way.

Start with the Right Wood

If your home doesn’t already have hardwood flooring and you’re considering an upgrade, then the type of wood that you choose is critical to its potential longevity.

Most hardwood floors are created from deciduous trees with broad leaves. Cherry, ash, maple, and oak are some examples. However, coniferous softwood trees can also be used for hardwood flooring. Trees such as spruce, cedar, Douglas fir, and pine are considered softwoods, but they can produce boards that are as hard or harder than those that come from deciduous trees.

Before making a final decision, it’s also worth considering some tropical hardwoods that are not native to North America. Some of these are very hard, and they bring a unique texture, luster, and finish to your floors.

Remember that the harder the wood, the less likely it is to be damaged by dropping a cooking pot or another heavy object. If you have kids, pets, or just think you’re a bit accident prone, then it makes sense to go with a harder wood.

Ensure Proper Installation

While many flooring projects are within the skills of an avid DIY-er, hardwood flooring is a little different. Because so many factors can affect successful installation, it is nearly always recommended that homeowners ask a professional to do the work.

When a hardwood floor is not properly installed, it has a direct negative effect on the longevity of the material. Even though you may have a professional install your floor, you’ll still have a few decisions that may need to be made.

Genuine hardwood floors typically are nailed into place. The nails don’t show too much in the finished product, and this is a really permanent installation method. The right subfloor is required. Typically, a wooden subfloor is recommended; if you don’t already have one, this may have to be installed. Any existing flooring will have to be removed.

Your flooring contractor will ensure that conditions are just right before beginning installation. This may involve:

  • Allowing the wood to acclimate in the room for about five days before installation.
  • Ensuring that a proper subfloor is in place.
  • Showing the location of floor joists with marks on the walls.
  • Removal of baseboards.
  • Laying out the boards in the order in which they will be installed.

Because hardwood flooring installation professionals do this type of work every day, you can trust that the job will be done correctly, thereby ensuring the longevity of your hardwood floor.

Use Good Maintenance Practices

Like any quality flooring material, it pays to take care of your hardwood floors. Use habits like these to ensure that your floor lasts for as long as possible:

  • Protect high-traffic areas with door mats and area rugs.
  • Avoid getting hairspray, furniture polish, or other chemicals on hardwood floors.
  • Remove residue from the floor using a no-wax cleaner.
  • Vacuum the floor once a week.
  • Look for ways to keep rainwater from contacting hardwood floors.
  • Wipe up any spills immediately after they occur.

It is similarly recommended that homeowners look for ways to minimize the exposure of hardwood floors to sunlight. The sun’s rays cause the color of hardwood flooring to fade, diminishing the floor’s appearance and potentially affecting longevity.

Additionally, it is worth considering the negative effect of dampness and humidity on hardwood floors. If you have issues with high humidity in your home, then it is wise to address and correct these issues before your hardwood flooring is installed. Remember that any plumbing leaks may cause immediate and lasting damage, so if you ever suspect a leak, get it fixed as soon as possible.

More About Cleaning Hardwood Flooring

When you’re determined to maximize the longevity of your floors, then sticking to a regular cleaning schedule is crucial. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and cleaning before you begin.

Most manufacturers recommend daily sweeping or dry mopping with a hardwood floor mop to remove dust and debris. On a weekly basis, run a vacuum cleaner over the floor using the “hard floor” setting. With this setting, the vacuum actually raises and deactivates the brush roll, which is critical for not causing damage to the floor. It may be wise to use a vacuum model that has rubber wheels rather than plastic wheels to avoid leaving scratches.

Some manufacturers also recommend wet mopping, which may be done every week or two. Use a cleaner formulated for hardwood flooring and a hardwood floor mop. Choosing the right cleaner is important because chemicals not intended for hardwood floors may dull or damage the finish.

When mopping wet, be careful not to leave any standing water. It’s usually best for the mop to be damp rather than sopping wet. If you prefer to use a steam mop, check to ensure that it is suitable for use on hardwood floors before beginning.

What About Scratches and Marks?

Your hardwood floor will suffer from dings and nicks, no matter how careful you are. Typically, you can take care of such small imperfections using liquid scratch concealer or floor polish, filling little scratches. Floor wax can similarly be useful when it’s time for a deep cleansing and revitalization.

Have Hardwood Floors Refinished Every 10 Years

If you are vigilant about cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floor daily, it should last 10 years or longer without needing major restoration. However, it may be time for refinishing when you start to see dullness, lots of scratches, or maybe a greater number of pits and dings.

This can be a pretty big job, especially if you have hardwood flooring in several rooms. Plus, because it involves sanding, a chore requiring a great deal of finesse, many homeowners decide to have a professional do the job.

Additionally, if some of the planks in the wood flooring are too damaged to repair, it may be necessary to replace them. It’s wise to ask a professional for assistance to ensure that any replaced boards blend in well with the surrounding flooring.

Contact Atlas Floors for Installation, Repair and Refinishing

Whether you are considering installing hardwood flooring or want to make your existing wood floor look better than new, contact Atlas Floors. Call us today to find out why so many people have come to rely on us when they want to install or maintain gorgeous hardwood flooring.

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