6 tips for caring for wood floors

A wood floor adds sheer beauty and warmth to your home and is quite durable. With the right care you won't need to re-sand or re-finish often. Here are six tips for maintaining your wood floors.

6 tips for caring for wood floors

1. Vacuum your floor every week

  • You probably do this already, but it always bears repeating. The reason: underfoot, the fine grit in dust is just like sandpaper and will slowly but surely wear through your wood floor's finish. So a good vacuuming protects the finish as well as keeps up its appearance.
  • Use an attachment with a brush or a felt surface that runs along the floor. Attachments with rotating brushes or a beater bar can scratch the finish. Disengage the beater bar on an upright.
  • If you don't feel like hauling out the vacuum, a dust mop or one of the newer microfibre sweepers will work just as well.

2. Use an extra-long “walk-off” doormat

  • Doormats, inside and out, earn their keep and then some. While vacuuming and spot-cleaning are great, keeping the dirt out in the first place is even better.
  • Get a one-metre-long to two-metres-long "walk-off" mat for the front door.
  • The longer the mat leading up to the door, the more people will rub dirt and moisture off their shoes as they walk in, even if they don't stop to wipe them.

3. Protect high-traffic zones with area rugs

  • Walking across an area several times a day eventually wears down a wood floor's finish. Nice-looking throw rugs are the easiest way to reduce the wear.
  • Make sure your rugs don't have a backing. Vinyl or rubber backing traps humidity, which can ruin your floor's finish and stain or damage the wood.

4. Keep out the rain

  • Water can not only ruin the finish on a hardwood floor but can penetrate deep into the wood and stain it.
  • Close windows when you're expecting rain. Put trays under potted plants and, of course, immediately wipe up any water you see.

5. Remove residue with no-wax wood floor cleaner

  • Keep it in the hall closet or another convenient location so that you can get to it quickly to clean up small problems before they become big ones.
  • Wipe up spills and dirt immediately; then use the cleaner to remove the residue. Dirt can damage the finish or get ground in. Liquids can damage the finish or stain the floor.

6. Choosing the right cleaner

  • A lot of cleaners that seem innocent enough may be disastrous if you use them on your wood floor.
  • First, you must determine what kind of finish is on your floor. For polyurethane finishes, never use ammonia-based cleaners, detergents, bleach, polishes, oil soap, abrasive cleansers or vinegar and other acidic products. Some, like ammonia, can etch the finish.
  • Others, like wax used on a varnished or shellacked floor, get in the way of products meant to clean or rejuvenate the finish.
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