How To Protect Wood Floors

By Joseph Scaduto | floor protection advice

Apr 02
How To Protect Wood Floors
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Whether your home was built with hardwood floors or upgraded with them, learning how to use protective floor coverings is vital to a long and beautiful life. Maintaining these floors doesn’t have to be challenging and can be done effortlessly if a proper upkeep routine is established. That said, it is not easy either, commitment is critical, which is why making a house schedule is highly recommended. 

As Floorshields, we would like to share our top wood floor maintenance tips. But first, we need to give you a reason for why flooring maintenance is so important and what damaging factors you are trying to prevent.

Why is maintaining wood floors important?

How to protect wood floors is not only about maintenance so that you can continue to see those same advantages, but it can help with future costs and inconveniences for necessary repairs. There are various reasons why people get wooden flooring. For example, health, in order to reduce allergens in the home. The other example would be aesthetics, whether it’s acoustics or interior decoration. There are many benefits to having them, but knowing how to maintain wood floors is important. 

Depending on the size of the home and the style and installation options you choose, the average cost of replacing a wood floor is between $2,500 and $6,000. 

If you already have wood floors, instead of having to replace them only a few years down the road, it’s much easier and cost-effective to follow the best common wood floor sustainability tips. Plus, it makes sure you are able to enjoy the beauty of hardwood floors in your house every day.

What is most damaging to wood floors?

There are different reasons why a wood floor damages and include both solid hardwoods to engineered wood flooring. If you firmly understand them, maintaining wooden floors becomes much easier.

Moisture

Moisture is your floors’ biggest foe. Although humidity is important for maintaining the proper level in your home, most people have a problem with too much instead of not enough. 

A slight mess can quickly permeate through the wood and cause harm, as can leaking water, high humidity, or incorrect cleaning techniques. This is probably the number one thing you need to protect from when it comes to the finish of your floor.

Dirt & Grit

Excess dirt and other contaminants on your hardwood floors can cause serious damage over time. It’s just dirt, you say. No. Dirt is very abrasive and easily scratches and scuffs away at the perfect finish on the floor. If the floor has been damaged and the finish has been worn away, then the same damage can happen to the flooring itself. Dirt can even hide in unexpected places like under carpets and under tables, especially when you have pets around. In addition to vacuuming, having a mop for those hard-to-reach areas is best.

Food Crumbs

Food crumbs can lead to much more damage. As a result, food crumbs often lead to mold and mildew. Regularly sweeping and making efforts to keep litterers in your home under control (aka your family members) can help combat this. Also, those crumbs are gritty, and we know what happens with that, they can cause scratches to the floor. Immediately you finish a meal, it is best to mop the food crumbs away. Also, always remember to check below the furniture for food crumbs.

Sun

Whereas closing the curtain may not be an option to protect your wood floors, over-exposure to the UV rays can be harmful, particularly over many years. The type of damage based on UV rays requires a refinishing process.

Salt

Salt can be damaging to your wood floors, especially in snowy areas. The salt that is used to de-ice your porches and driveways can do serious harm to the floors. You can mop the floors with neutral pH products. The use of this salt can lead to scratches even if it’s used to protect from snow.

How to protect wood floors: main tips for maintenance

You probably think maintaining wood floors is difficult and uncomfortable after reading the above. You were not looking for extra work! Well, the good news, it is not rocket science to maintain hardwood flooring. You don’t have to be an everyday Elon Musk to keep your floors out of harm’s way and stay on top of things. You just need to get a few things right set up a proper maintenance routine. 

And frankly, what kind of flooring, over time, does not require at least some care? You can also find that it’s easier to maintain hardwood floors than stuff like linoleum or carpet. 

Our maintenance tips will make sure that keeping your floors fresh is as simple as possible.

Frequent cleaning

How to protect wood floors

It is necessary to keep it clean, just as with any other form of flooring, to make it last. One of the most important wood floor maintenance tips you can use to prolong the longevity of your floors is daily cleaning. 

At the end of each day, a quick sweep will make sure that additional dirt, dust, grime, or food crumbs are cleaned up and will not cause more damage. And microfiber dust mops are highly recommended for this practice. They are easy to use, inexpensive, and very efficient at picking up microscopic dust particles. Higher-quality devices often run much better and typically bring less wear and tear on your floor. 

It is important to think about deeper cleaning every so often while picking up the daily dust on your floors. It should only be appropriate to clean your floors using products specifically made for hardwood floors every week or so unless there are any unexpected messes. Products designed for this type of floor help in this daily and deep cleaning routine.

You have to get the proper products

We mentioned that it is crucial that the right products clean your hardwood floors to help them shine and not harm them. Also, you may have come across some methods of cleaning wooden floors that damage them. For instance:

  • Applying diluted vinegar will darken the previously shiny floor. 
  • Most soaps and cleaners leave a residual film that can cause damage to the surface on which they are used. 
  • Steam cleaning involves high temperatures and water that can cause long-term damage.

So, what do you do instead? Well, this is what you need to do.

  • Get the appropriate cleaning products
  • Have a good routine for keeping your floors clean

If you are looking for wood care products, seek out those that: 

  • Will not damage hardwood floors. 
  • Do not leave a mark. 
  • Targeted for use around both children and pets.
  • Neutral pH wood cleaner

Preventing water damage

It was mentioned earlier how moisture can be damaging to wood floors. Part of maintaining wood floors is ensuring that there is no water damage or excessive moisture in the home. If there is an area that looks hazy or blurry, this is likely from water damage that has compromised the finish of the item. 

Common places where this occurs are near the kitchen sink and back door where the trash usually is put. This can easily be washed off with an assortment of soft, cotton towels (always get new ones to replace worn-out pieces). However, you want to prevent re-exposure by covering the area, so getting an area rug or mats may help.

If there is a large quantity of water on the floor as a result of spilling, then it needs to be removed quickly. Ideally, a wet/dry vacuum can be used for vacuuming a large amount of water. After which,  you can use absorbent towels for the excess fluid. Wet floors can cause mold and mildew, which sometimes necessitate replacing flooring.

A moisture testing meter can help you determine if your wood floors are at risk of damage from moisture. You also might want to think about investing in a dehumidifier to prevent this.

Prevent furniture damage

To move furniture into and out of a space without scratching surfaces, use plywood to avoid scratches. To protect the hardwood flooring, the furniture legs should be mounted on protective pads before they are put down. Furthermore, make sure that the protective pads are regularly checked to ensure they are still in position and working as they should. Generally, you might want to make sure that furniture legs have felt pads. The best felt pads are round unless it’s unusual furniture in which case you’ll have to get appropriate felt pads. As aesthetically pleasing a piece of furniture might be, preventing scratches should be your top priority. If you must have the avantgarde Warholian piece of furniture, place an apropos rug beneath it. Not all felt pads are created equal, especially felt glides which work best on hard, smooth surfaces. So you want to think through that. What you like and what works may differ. Maintaining a home based on science as much as it is art, right?

Reducing Traffic Wear

One of the toughest aspects of preserving wood floors is avoiding dust from settling in high traffic areas. Area rugs or mats may be positioned in front of doors, or runners in hallways. This will help minimize noise and reduce abrasion on the hardwood flooring. 

Residents and visitors are welcome to remove their shoes when coming into your home. Offering a place to put shoes that also acts as a changing area for socks and slippers provides a simple way to implement a “no shoes” policy in the house. If shoes must be worn indoors, then wearing the kind of shoes that don’t put excess poking pressure into the hardwood floors is appropriate. You can’t be wearing high heel shoes on your hardwood floor. Matter of fact, avoid high heels on any hardwood floor, whether it’s yours or not. Non-marking shoes have a non-marking surface for the floor’s finish, high heels don’t. Shoes should be gentle to your hardwood floors. Any type of shoes that would create scratches on the finish should be avoided in the house. Placing area rugs where there is heavy traffic can lead to scratches over time.

Don’t forget your pets either. Keeping a clean and well-manicured paw may avoid a common occurrence of unnecessary scratches and scuffs. Deploying a carpet in almost every heavy traffic area comes in handy and is part of keeping your floors safe.

The National Wood Flooring Association, or NWFA, states that a person weighing just 125 pounds can put up to four tons of pressure onto the flooring when wearing high heels! It’s basic high school physics. This is because of the weight of the person being placed on a very small area, the bottom of the heel.

Use Mats & Rugs

The use of mats and rugs around your home is not just a matter of decor, but it should be done effectively in order to help the flooring and not make matters worse. They should protect it. This is because mats and rugs can retain moisture.

Mats that have a rubber backing accumulate moisture underneath their surface that can damage the floor underneath. What’s even more frustrating is that this moisture has nowhere to go. Improperly maintained mats and rugs will cause damage. The rug or mat you select should be lightweight and breathable, thus avoiding the buildup of moisture.

Rugs and mats can also be safe harbors for dirt and grit. The frequent motions or walking on a rug will push the dirt under the rug onto the finished surface, creating scuff marks. Regularly washing your rugs and mats is necessary to prevent damage to your floors. 

Rugs and mats can minimize water penetration in a bathroom and kitchen, and help avoid spoilage in front of an exterior door. They can also be put in high traffic areas to avoid wear damage to the finish.

They can also be placed under your furniture as one of the ways to keep the floors clean and safe. Just make sure that the furniture is not moved frequently.

Make sure you mop underneath the rugs and mats, not just the top.

Maintaining the right indoor relative humidity

According to the Mayo Clinic, humidity levels in homes typically falls within the range of 30 to 50%. Wood floors are engineered to tolerate this level of humidity, and so if humidity is on the high end or low end, you may need to act immediately. Running a humidifier in a room increases the shelf life and durability of the wood flooring. Splits form when pieces of the plank dwindle in size, which allows dirt and even bacteria to creep in. These uninvited visitors return to their normal size when the planks return to their regular size. Additionally, they allow mold and mildew to grow. 

If the humidity level in the home exceeds 50% for an extended period, investing in a dehumidifier is a great way to prevent wood floors from damaging. Moisture should be removed from the home to prevent cupping of the wood furniture. This kind of damage may become irreparable and will need proper repair.

It might be good practice to keep a hygrometer in several areas of your house so you can habitually check levels of humidity. Having this kind of day would help you to decide whether you need a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep an optimized level of humidity relative to your wood floors.

Prevent Sun Damage

It takes many years for your wood floor to show a visible change in color due to UV exposure. Most people notice the discoloration only after the material covering it for a long time has been moved, and it becomes noticeable. The change in color is the result of a chemical reaction called “photochemical oxidation” and ultimately affects the colors of the wood floors. 

There are several ways you can prevent this discoloration. These are three tips for wood floor care when UV exposure occurs:

  • Install and/or alter window treatments. 
  • Apply protective films to windows that block ultraviolet rays. 
  • Pay attention to the carpeted floor’s UV blocking properties.

Your walls, ceilings, and floor aren’t the only places that get affected by UV rays. Over time, even your furniture fabric can become discolored. Suppressing UV damage can help you maintain the beauty of your house.

The regular recoating of wood floors

Regularly maintaining wood floors probably won’t prevent all wear and tear from occurring. The dirt and grime can build up and add up over time, and the texture of the wood can start to look worn and dull. Re-touching them can bring them back from the brink of death with renewed vibrancy and luster. Start the sanding process before the finish on the wood wears and becomes damaged. 

Refinishing wood floors when necessary

Proper maintenance of wood floors prevents the need for re-coloring. Refinishing is the process of applying a new coat of finish on the floors, and repairing and/or replacing deteriorated wood where needed. Some types of damage occur unexpectedly, such as a water main breaking in the house. If the wood floor is damaged or worn, refinishing it may prevent it from having to be replaced as a whole. A maintenance process should be done prior to the damage. Refinishing is one of the best ways to protect these types of floors. Refinishing helps you getting you new floors.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to protect your wood floors, then applying these tips means you are well on your way to maintaining a beautiful house. Remember these basics, they are the best ways to make sure your house wood floors are looking great even years later. You don’t have to get new wood floors is not always the necessary recourse.

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About the Author

Joseph is a professional floor installer that has been in the resinous and epoxy industry for many years. Joe was certified to install epoxy floors by xtreme polishing systems in Florida and runs infinity epoxy floors in long island.

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