Simple ways to keep your wood floors pristine

Keeping your wood floors clean and well-maintained is surprisingly easy. Here's how:

Simple ways to keep your wood floors pristine

Get to know your floors

  • All wood floors are stained for colour immediately after they're sanded, then coated with a sealer. From there, they'll be finished with either wax, polyurethane, varnish or shellac.
  • To identify the finish, rub your finger across the surface of the floor. If you've left a smudge, the floor has a wax finish.
  • Or, close your eyes and run your hand across a floorboard. If you can feel the grain of the wood, the floor's been waxed or treated with a penetrating oil.
  • A floor finished with polyurethane (whether alkyd or waterbased), shellac or varnish feels smooth and will "lift" if you place a small amount of paint remover on it.
  • To further isolate the finish, check the colour. Shellac reddens as it ages. Varnish develops a rich patina. Polyurethane yellows slightly with age.

Get rid of the grit

Sand and grit, ground underfoot and scuffed on the wood finish by ordinary use, can damage the finish. Here are some options for preventive maintenance:

  • Every few days use a broom to sweep high-traffic areas, including corners, where dirt, grime and grit collect.
  • Vacuum with a bare-floor brush attachment and avoid using  an upright vacuum or a canister vacuum, which can damage your floor. Concentrate on high traffic areas.
  • Never use water to clean a wood floor, which can cause warping and even rot. Instead, wrap the head of a sponge mop with a damp, soft cloth. Go over a small area of floor at a time, wiping dry with a second cloth before you move on.

Well-maintained wooden floors are a beautiful sight to behold, and keeping them clean isn't very difficult. Focus on high traffic areas and take extra care when cleaning. That way, your floors will look their best and could even last much longer.

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