Hardwood floors are an excellent investment for any home, promoting resale value and interior warmth. However, if the floors are not properly cared for, this investment can actually lower the value of your home.
Hardwood floors are not hard to maintain, and compared with carpet and other surfaces that are more difficult to clean or require replacement, hardwood floors can be considered relatively low maintenance. But proper care is essential to keep the floors in good shape, and to give them a nice shine.
Cleaning your hardwood floor
As with all flooring, hardwood floors must be cleaned, but they must be cleaned correctly.
The correct way to clean urethane-stained floors is to mop them with a damp mop. Using vacuum and bristle brooms daily will help keep the floor clean. But when it comes time to really clean the floor, use a damp mop.
Allowing dirt and grime to collect on the floor, and walking on this grime over a period of time can damage the finish.
Using a small amount of water shouldn’t hurt the finished wood, but don’t pour out water and mop it like you would with kitchen tile. A damp mop or dust rag is all that should be needed, and it should be light enough in water that it will dry in minutes.
Be sure to understand what type of finish your floor has, and what the suggested cleaning methods are. Using soaps and oils can void manufacturer warranties on many floors.
Protecting your hardwood floors
Another way to protect hardwood floors is to use throw rugs or walk-off mats in areas of high traffic.
For example, in the entry way where people come in through the house, the traffic is likely to be greater in an isolated spot, and thus the floors will wear unevenly in this spot. This would make a great place for an area rug.
Watch your floors over time, and consider putting some sort of rug or other type of protection on areas that receive more wear. It is especially important to use rugs on wood floors in kitchens in front of sinks and stoves.
Remember that your furniture can damage your floors
Floor protectors on the bottom of furniture is highly recommended. You will want to pay special attention to rolling chairs with rubber wheels like those often found in offices. These chairs have a tendency to leave rubber trails on the wood floors. If you have such a chair, consider putting a rug underneath it.
Taking care of Urethane and Wax finished floors
There are two primary finishes on hardwood floors: urethane finishes and wax. You should never wax a urethane finished floor. If your urethane floor is extremely worn, you may need to refinish it which will involve sanding and applying sealer. However, if you clean the floor regularly, using only soaps recommended by the manufacturer, and you protect problem areas, you should avoid needing to refinish the floor for many years.
Wax floors require occasional waxing. It really isn’t a lot different than cleaning and waxing your car. You will need to clean the floors first, and buff areas that are worn with high traffic. Occasionally, you will need to buff on additional wax in the worn areas. With wax finished, just as with urethane finishes, you should know the manufacturers recommended care procedures.
With proper maintenance, your hardwood floors should last for the lifetime of your house, and look shiny and new for many years.
However, maybe you have moved into a new house where the floors need a little TLC, or the floors in your house are looking a little tired. Don’t worry, you can always bring them back to life and make them look as good as new.
How To Go About Refinishing Hardwood Floors
Some people will tell you that sanding is the best thing to do while refinishing hardwood floors. However, that is not so.
The fact is that your hardwood floor has a particular character that it has developed through decades, and sanding destroys most of it. Some of the wood is also removed, and the floor becomes thinner as a result. And all the dust that sanding creates will prevent you from applying a new finish smoothly.
So is there another way of refinishing hardwood floors? Yes, there is. And a better one at that. This alternative is inexpensive too, apart from being much easier to handle. The floor’s protection is renewed, its character is preserved, and you retain all the wood. Now what could be better?
Start refinishing hardwood floors by making necessary repairs. Add new wood if required. Try to match the grade, species, and the age of the new flooring to the existing one. If you feel it’s needed, sand the repair area lightly. Vacuum the room before you go on to the next step.
The Process Of Chemically Refinishing A Hardwood Floor
Use a mild Trisodium Phosphate solution or plain water to wash the old floor, taking good care not to wet any part of the new wood. Leave the floor to dry for a day. Next, use a wax remover on the old portions, and leave it for another couple of days.
Here’s a list of all the things you need in refinishing hardwood floors. Visit a paint shop to find them:
- Lacquer thinner
- Denatured alcohol
- Corrosion resistant screw-top container
- Quality oil finish that matches the current colour or is very similar to it
- Chemical resistant refinishing pads
- Floor polishing stick
- Chemical resistant pan
- Floor polishing machine with steel wool pads to fit it
Step 1 – Make a half-and-half mixture of the lacquer thinner and denatured alcohol in the large can, pour some of it into a glass dish.
Step 2 – start working the floor in parts, staining the new wood to blend them in with the old floor.
Step 3 – Leave the floor like that for two or three days.
Step 4 – The last step in refinishing hardwood floors is sealing the floor. Polyurethane is the most popular choice of sealant. Applying three coats is the best way to go.
By following these steps, you can bring life back to tired looking hardwood floors without creating a huge amount of dust.