When you install hardwood floors in your home, you want them to last you for years to come. Fortunately, both solid and engineered hardwood come with a durability that can hold up for decades. Your floors can’t do all the work on their own, though. If you want the beauty of your hardwood floors to stick around, you need to clean and maintain them well. Scratches, dirt, and water damage can lead to an early end for your gorgeous flooring. That said, keeping your floors safe doesn’t have to be a time-consuming ordeal. When you know the dos and don’ts of hardwood floor ownership, you can build a routine that preserves your floors, your schedule, and your wallet. Learn how to protect your hardwood floors with the following expert tips.
Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Let’s start with one of the easiest rules of all: don’t wear shoes in the house. There are multiple reasons why hardwood floor owners should leave their footwear at the door. Shoes can track dirt, mud, and other grit through the house, which can seriously harm the finish on your floors—especially if it builds up over time. Certain types of shoes can also create dents or scratches in the floor. That’s why you should avoid heels and anything with cleats at all costs. Keep a mat or shelf near entrances so that your family and any guests can slip off their shoes before they step further into the house.
Watch Out for High-Traffic Areas
If you have a busier household, you should keep a closer eye on your hardwood floors. High-traffic areas like entryways, hallways, and living rooms are more likely to see dents and scratches over time. Once again, having a no shoes policy will help prevent some of the damage. You can play it even safer by putting down rugs, mats, or runners in these areas. A plush rug is a cozy touch to the hardwood floor in your living room. An attractive runner can also spruce up your interior hallways. While you don’t want to cover too much of that gorgeous natural wood, strategically placing a stylish rug can protect your floors without taking away from the design of the room.
Build an Expert Cleaning Routine
A crucial part of how to protect your hardwood floors revolves around your cleaning routine. Keep in mind that even a little bit of maintenance goes a long way. Taking a broom or dry mop to the room a couple times a week helps prevent dirt, grit, and dust from building up and working their way into the finish of your floors. This is also the surest way to keep pet hair, dust, and other unwanted mess to a minimum. Try not to use water on your floors, as water damage can wreak havoc on hardwood. If your floors need a little shine, you can use wood-safe cleaning products that won’t harm the finish on your floors. Be sure to only use damp mops rather than completely wet ones and wipe away any excess moisture that occurs.
Avoid Pet Troubles
Pets bring a lot of challenges to hardwood floors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t coexist. If you’re still deciding what kind of flooring to get, you should think about harder species like hickory or maple. These will hold up better against little claws running through the house. No matter what type of floor you have, though, you can still protect it from your pets with a few simple steps. Once again, rugs are your friend. Try to place mats or pet beds in your furry friends’ favorite sleeping spots to keep pet hair off the floor. Runners are also helpful in hallways, stairs, or other places where your pets zoom through the house. Additionally, do your best to keep pet nails trimmed and blunt. This will help prevent a lot of scratches and other nail damage.
Sand and Refinish (But Don’t Overdo It!)
One of the great things about wood floors is the ability to sand and refinish them. Refinishing your floors can make them look brand new, even after several years of damage and wear. That said, you need to be careful when taking on this project. Too many sanding jobs will wear down your floors and ruin their durability. If you have engineered hardwood flooring, make sure you check the thickness of the veneer before you decide to sand and refinish. One too many refinishes can destroy the veneer entirely and leave you with a ruined floor. That’s why this project should be a rare occasion. If you need a touch up between refinishes, try using scratch concealer to get rid of obvious damage.
Be Wary of Water
As we mentioned above, water damage is one of the worst things that can happen to your hardwood floor. You should always be on the lookout for pools or puddles that build up on your wood floors. Take extra care in higher risk areas like the kitchen or mudroom. You should never let any amount of liquid sit on your wood floors. Have a towel on hand to quickly wipe up spills when they occur. Additionally, keep an eye on the humidity levels in your home. Long periods of excess humidity can cause moisture to seep into your floors and damage them over time.
Pay Attention To Sunlight
Another concern for hardwood floors is exposure to sunlight. UV rays can cause your floors to fade and lose their color over time. If your wood floor is in a room that gets a lot of sun, you might want to look into window treatments that block some of the sun’s harmful rays. Even something as simple as blinds and curtains can keep the worst of the sunlight out and preserve the color of your hardwood. UV-blocking window films also work wonders. Not only will they protect your floors, but they can also reduce the amount of glare in the room and increase energy efficiency in your home. In addition to window treatments, you can also look for a UV-resistant finish to add to the floors themselves.
Protecting your floors means investing in your home. With a little love and care, you can make the beauty of your natural engineered wood flooring last for years, decades, and even generations to come.