The work is done, the crews have moved out, and you are ready to start living on your beautiful new investment - your hardwood floors. They're clean, flawless, and perfect. Now what?
Hardwood floors have a long reputation of being difficult to care for with waxing, polishing, and on and on. But, with the new finish products and cleaning techniques available today, caring for hardwood floors is easier than ever. It takes a little patience developing your own schedule, but here are some general guidelines.
Always clean up spills immediately using a damp cloth and dry immediately. This will help prevent damage to the finish and flooring itself.
On a daily basis, a quick run around with a microfiber mop in the high traffic areas is the best way to prevent surface damage and scratching. Depending on how busy your household is, you will figure out how often you need to do this. Active households will need to do this daily, but for less active homes, maybe a couple times a week is enough. You can use a broom and dustpan, but we like the microfiber mops because the static helps get the dirt off the floor and out of the cracks. For best results, avoid lifting the mop off the floor while you're cleaning. This will keep the dirt trapped on the pad.
Stylish, fun, and practical, area rugs that are strategically placed in heavier used areas will help preserve your floor. We recommend placing area rugs in entries, kitchens, under the eating table, etc. These will help catch the dirt and debris that gets brought in and reduce that from being tracked around your home. A note of caution - check with your contractor about how soon you can place area rugs once your project is complete to prevent damage to the finish. To prevent fade marks, as all floors fade with time, move your rugs an inch or two on a regular basis with your cleaning. That will reduce the hard line.
On a weekly basis - again, maybe more, maybe less depending on your household, you will want to use a vacuum on your floor to get those areas that are harder to reach like corners and the dirt between the cracks. First, make sure the wheels on your vacuum are safe for hardwood floors. Some wheels will damage your finish. I like to use a vacuum I can carry around just to be on the safe side. You can also use the robotic vacuums, but make sure they are safe and set for use on hardwood floors. If you are using a vacuum that has a beater bar, make sure the beater bar is turned off. You aren't looking to beat the floor clean but to vacuum up any dirt and debri in the cracks and harder to reach places. Aggressive cleaning will damage your floor, so be gentle.
I hate the term wet mopping when it comes to wood floors, but that's what they call it. So, let's clarify: this does not mean getting out the mop bucket and slopping water all over the floor and scrubbing away. Wood is alive and it will expand and shrink with moisture followed by drying and it can happen with one mopping, so don't do it. When it comes to hardwood flooring, wet mopping means lightly spraying a high quality cleaner (we recommend Bona) on your floor and then mopping it dry with a clean, dry microfiber dust mop. The dirt is on the surface of the floor, so be gentle and give you and your floor a break.
Every few years do a maintenance coat:
Eventually, your floor will begin to look dull and lifeless, or just doesn't quite seem to look clean after you've done your regular cleaning. About every three to five years, a recoat should be performed. During this process, the flooring professional will come in and buff your floor, removing the top layer of finish and apply a new coat of finish. This process does not fix scratches, dents or dings that go beyond the surface. Staying vigilant with this will save you going through the process of sanding your floor down to bare wood again to keep it looking fresh. This process costs about 1/3 of the price of refinishing, is virtually dustless, and typically takes a few hours. Keeping that top coat fresh not only makes your floor look great, it will extend the life of your floor for decades.
Every few decades:
If you have maintained your floor with regular cleaning and maintenance coats, your floor could last decades! Eventually though, it will be time to sand the floor back to raw wood. How do you know when to do this?
There are scratches and dents that go beyond the surface and into the wood.
The floor has been damaged by moisture.
Fading has occurred to a significant degree.
Board replacement is required.
You want to extend the hardwood flooring into other areas.
It's time for a new color.
Top 3 myths about caring for your hardwood floor:
It's safe to use vinegar or ammonia on my floor. Vinegar and ammonia are both acidic and will wear away the finish over time leaving your floors dull and discolored. Instead, use a light mist of a quality hardwood floor cleaner recommended by your flooring professional.
Steam cleaning is a great way to get a deep sterile cleaning. Again, water and wood do not mix, and steam mops take the water and make it worse by adding extreme heat. Steam cleaning will cause your floor to peel, crack, discolor and may cause cupping and gapping after just one use.
Oil cleaners will moisturize my floor and keep it looking shiny and new. You should avoid products with water or oil. Examples would include, and are not limited to: Orange Glow, Old English, Murphy's Oil Soap, Mop & Glow, and many of the rejuvenation products marketed as safe for your wood. You are not cleaning the wood, you are cleaning the polyurethane finish that is protecting the wood. Oils will leave a buildup that cannot be removed and will dull and discolor your floors. With repeated use, these products can actually cause enough build up that the floor cannot be recoated but will have to be refinished by sanding it down to the bare wood to get this gummy mess off your floor.
So, there you have it. With regular maintenance and care, your new floor can last decades, making hardwood floors a great investment that is easy to care for. If you have any questions, please give Creations Hardwoods of Colorado Springs a call at 719-360-2658 and we'll be happy to discuss all your flooring needs.