(BPT) - Solid hardwood floors are beautiful and timeless, adding value to any property. However, there's a misconception that real hardwood floors are difficult to maintain. The truth is that they can last for decades, as long you follow a few simple steps on a regular schedule.
In fact, the time that goes into maintaining hardwood floors isn't much more extensive than any other flooring material. The key is to practice regular care and cleaning for your hardwood to keep grit and dirt from scratching the wood.
'Hardwood floors are special, and if properly taken care of, you can have a living, organic, premium floor that lasts for generations,' said Jen Meska, director of Merchandising for LL Flooring (formerly Lumber Liquidators). 'But to keep them in top shape, it's essential to have a regular cleaning schedule and be extra-mindful of any conditions in your home that could damage your floors.'
Tools, tips, and tricks
Meska says to start with the fundamental tools for caring for hardwood flooring: a dust mop for everyday cleaning, a vacuum for weekly cleaning, and a microfiber mop that can get damp (not wet!) for monthly, deep cleaning.
To keep day-to-day dirt and grit off your floors, aim to sweep or vacuum weekly. When using a vacuum for regular cleanings, opt for a soft floor attachment or hardwood setting that disengages the beater bar (this is the bar that rotates when cleaning carpet.) By disengaging it on hardwood and avoiding a vacuum or attachment with hard bristles, you can avoid any scuffing or scratching of your floors.
If you have heavy furniture placed directly on your hardwood, be sure to use felt pads on the feet to avoid scratches, and replace them regularly. This also includes furniture that is moved frequently, such as dining room chairs.
Strive to do a deep clean monthly to ensure you pick up the dirt and grime that inevitably forms over time. A great hardwood flooring care set is LL Flooring's Bellawood Floor Care Maintenance Kit, which comes with a bottle of floor cleaner, a mop head and handle, washable wet mop microfiber pad, dry mop pad and a variety pack of felt pads.
This set is GREENGUARD Gold Certified, which means it's third-party tested for low chemical emissions and therefore safe to use at home. It's also urethane-safe and won't leave a dull-streaky residue on your floors, so they'll look refreshed when you're done cleaning.
What to avoid
Relative to most other flooring materials, solid hardwood is sensitive to moisture, whether that be due to wet shoes or just changes in humidity. Therefore, it's important to keep any amount of standing water off the planks.
That means ditch the traditional mop and bucket, which can leave behind water that could cause your floors to swell, crack or splinter.
Another critical thing to avoid is harsh cleaning solutions which include ingredients like chlorine bleach, ammonia, pine oil or undiluted vinegar. These can dull your floors by affecting the protective finish, causing lasting damage.
By following these simple steps, your hardwood floor should stay in good shape for many years to come.
'The best thing about hardwood flooring is that it's a sustainable, living, organic material that takes on its own unique character throughout its lifetime,' said Meska. 'Each plank is unique and tells its own story, and with the proper care, they can serve as the design foundation of your home for generations.'