Wood floors, properly finished, are the easiest of all floor surfaces to keep clean and new looking, unlike carpeted or resilient floors that show wear regardless of care. Wood floors can be kept looking like new, year after year, with minimum care.
Since the overwhelming majority of wood floors are composed of solid hardwood, this care guide applies specifically to this type of flooring.
What is minimum care? A good rule of thumb is to vacuum and/or dust mop weekly. A damp mop can be used for spills, and when necessary general cleanup on floors which have non-waxed polyurethane or a similar surface finish. When traffic areas of surface finishes begin to show significant wear, screening, scuff sanding the finish surface and re-coating an entire floor is the least involved choice for maintenance. If a floor is waxed, occasional buffing helps renew the shine and remove scuff marks that may appear in the wax coating. If the shine cannot be renewed in heavily used lanes, occasionally re-waxing these areas may be necessary. Intervals for completely re-waxing a floor may extend to a year or longer when attention has been paid to proper care.
WOOD & WATER DO NOT MIX
No matter what finish your wood floor has, NOFMA recommends, never pouring water on the floor. While a damp mop may be used on polyurethane and other surface finishes in good condition, excessive amounts of water seep between the boards and into small scratches causing deterioration of finishes. A damp mop should only be damp to the touch. It should be thoroughly wrung and not dripping. Wax-coated finishes should NEVER be cleaned or maintained with water, not even a damp mop. Water can cause a wax finish to be dull or leave water spots.
Read the label. The recommendations made here are not intended to endorse specific products or brands but to serve as general guidelines in the selection and use of floor maintenance materials. Always follow label directions for finishes maintenance products, and corresponding products except for directions which call for using water on wood. And always use only products specifically designed for wood floors and the finish applied to your wood floor.
- Preventative maintenance is a term more common to industrial floor care than to residential or office floor care, but its importance cannot be over-emphasized. Good preventative maintenance lengthens the intervals between the major renovation operations such as re-coating, re-waxing and refinishing. Here are some basic rules that apply to all types of floor finishes.
- Keep grit off the floor. Use dirt-trapping, walk-off mats at all exterior doors to help prevent dirt, grit and sand from getting inside the building. Throw- rugs or small sections of carpet just inside the entrances are also recommended. Dirt and grit are any flooring's worst enemy, and that includes carpets and vinyls as well as hardwoods. Keep door mats clean.
- In kitchens, use area rugs at high spill locations and at work stations-stove, sink, refrigerator. Cotton is generally the best fabric since it is easily washed. Mats with a smooth backing, i.e. rubber or vinyl, may trap water beneath.
- Finishes and certain chemicals in wood oxidize and are affected by ultra violet light sources. This may cause the wood and finish to change color and develop a patina or aged appearance. To avoid uneven appearance, move area rugs occasionally and drape or shade large windows.
- Put fabric glides on the legs of your furniture; they allow furniture to be moved easily without scuffing the floor. Clean the glides regularly. Grit can become embedded in glides; clean the glides over to prevent scratching. Some furniture may require barrel type roller casters as ball type casters may cause damage. Grey, non-marking rubber casters are the best. Avoid casters made of hard materials like metals or hard plastics.
- Vacuum regularly, as often as you vacuum carpets: a brush attachment works beautifully. Sweep or use a dust mop daily or as needed, but do not use a household dust treatment as this may cause your floor to become slick, dull the finish, or interfere with re-coating.
- Wipe up food and other spills promptly with a dry cloth or paper towel. Use a slightly moistened cloth for sticky spills if necessary. Then wipe the floor dry with another cloth or paper towel.
- Keep heels on shoes in good repair, especially high heels. Heels that have their protective cap missing or worn away exposing the steel support rod will dent any floor surface, even concrete.
- By observing these simple suggestions you'll go a long way toward keeping your hardwood floors beautiful and making their care easier.