Caring For Your Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Flooring Care Tips
You’ve invested a lot of time (and money!) in your new floors, and keeping them looking great is important. Proper ongoing maintenance is the best way to prolong the life of your hardwood flooring, and we’ve got the best care tips for you.
When properly maintained, wood floors can last for hundreds of years. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished numerous times during their service lives, and can even be stained to give them a completely new look. Decorative items like medallions and borders can easily be added to existing wood floors to provide an updated look as well. Best of all, over time, wood floors can adapt to any décor and style changes without having to be replaced.
Your individual maintenance schedule will vary depending on how much use and wear and tear your floors get, and your lifestyle.
Hardwood Cleaning Tips
- Regularly sweep, dust mop, or vacuum using the bare floor setting to remove dust and dirt.
- Immediately clean up spills with a dry or slightly damp cloth to prevent substances from seeping into your floors.
- Don’t use wet mops or steam mops, as they will damage the finish and the wood over long periods of time.
- It’s best to use a cleaner that’s specifically made for your floors finish. If you’re unsure what cleaner to use, a flooring professional can provide or recommend one to you after your floors are installed or refinished.
- If your floors begin to look dull, they can be renewed by recoating. This involves applying a new coat of wood floor finish.
Recommended Care & Maintenance Schedule
Sweep or dust mop. If you have kids and pets, you may need to do this more often, but be sure to do it at least daily.
Vacuum using the bare floor setting.
Clean with a recommended wood flooring cleaner. Use this as an opportunity to inspect your floors for any signs of damage that may need repairing.
Every 2-5 Years
Apply a maintenance coat of finish to the floor.
Every Few Decades
Sand and refinish, making repairs as necessary.
What Not to Use on Hardwood Flo0rs
- Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors.
- Do not use self-polishing acrylic waxes, which add a film to the floor surface. These products can cause flooring to become slippery, scuff, and appear dull quickly, unless otherwise recommended by the finish or flooring manufacturer.
- Avoid cleaning products that claim to restore, rejuvenate, add shine, polish, or renovate the wood floor, unless otherwise recommended by the finish or flooring manufacturer.
- Do not use household wet dusting products to clean wood flooring, unless otherwise recommended by the finish or flooring manufacturer.
- Do not wet mop a wood floor. Standing water will result in cracks, splits, cupping, warping, degradation of the finish, and leave a discoloring residue.
- Never use wax on non-waxed surface finishes.
- Do not use petroleum-based cleaners on waterborne finishes.
- Don’t use wood floor cleaning products designed for film finishes on natural oiled finishes.
- Don’t use oil soaps on urethane or film-forming finishes, unless otherwise recommended by the finish or flooring manufacturer.
- Do not use vinegar on wood floor finishes. The vinegar is acidic and will degrade the floor finish.
- Do not use steam cleaners on wood floors. Water in a vapor form will penetrate the wood fibers and cause irreversible damage to the wood flooring and the finish.
General Hardwood Flooring Maintenance
- Wipe all spills immediately.
- Only use vacuum cleaners that have a setting for hard-surfaces. Turn off the beater bars/brush on the vacuum cleaner when present.
- Use breathable throw rugs both inside and outside the doorways to help prevent grit, salt, chemicals, sand, moisture and other debris from being tracked onto wood floors. This will minimize scratching and premature wear.
- For wood flooring in the kitchen, place a breathable area rug in front of the kitchen sink and stove.
- Rugs should be shaken out, cleaned and thoroughly dried when they get wet.
- Be aware that area rugs cover the wood floor, protecting it from UV/sun exposure, which results in color differences in the wood floor.
- Put fabric-faced glides under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching. Periodically check these floor protectors for embedded soil and replace as necessary.
- Avoid walking on your wood floors with cleats, sports shoes, and high heels.
- Keep pet claws trimmed and in good repair.
- When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to protect the wood flooring.
- When moving appliances (refrigerators, stoves, etc.), use safety glides. On newly finished floors, wait a minimum of three days before replacing appliances.
- Use an appropriate humidifier throughout the winter/dry months and/or dehumidifier in the summer months to keep wood movement and shrinkage to a minimum. It is important to maintain a consistent environment throughout the year to minimize floor movement.
What Products to Use
Our hardwood flooring care tips will depend on what type of floors you have.
Factory Finished Floors
For factory-finished wood floors, consumers should follow the directions of the flooring manufacturer as to which cleaning products to use. This is extremely important because not following those directions may void the manufacturer’s warranty of the floor.
Site Finished Floors
For site-finished wood floors, follow the finish manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. When the wood or finish manufacturer is unknown, use a wood floor cleaning product available from a local wood flooring professional.
Using non-recommended product to clean the floor may ruin the intended appearance of the finish, and it may also cause problems when it is time for the floor to be recoated.
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. Excessive use of wood floor cleaners can damage the wood floor. Only use as recommended by the manufacturer. Do not use household dust treatments. Never use wax on non-waxed surface finishes. Do not use petroleum-based cleaners on waterborne finishes, and additionally, do not use vinegar on wood floor finishes. Vinegar is acidic and will degrade the floor finish.
On a wax finish,do not over-wax the wood floor. If the 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.
On a waxed floor, to remove water spots,use a fine steel wool, a soft cloth or synthetic pad and a small amount of mineral spirits. Rub gently in a circular motion until the spot is gone. Then rewax the area and buff. On waxed and oiled floors, never use water-based cleaners. Only use specific maintenance products from the finish manufacturer.
On oil-finished floors, use only what the manufacturer recommends to clean floors.
The oil finish may periodically need to be reapplied by a professional. There are many different types of oil finishes and each has a specific maintenance program.
Use a dry microfiber mop will safely and effectively remove loose debris from the surface. Many natural oil manufacturers recommend a specific maintenance routine of using oils and soaps on a regular basis. Failure to follow specific maintenance procedures will result in a finish that will not perform as it’s intended to.