How to Lengthen the Life of Hardwood Flooring
Like human beings, hardwood floors flourish best in temperate climates and will remain looking good for longer in temperatures of between 15 – 20c (around 60 – 67f) with medium range humidity.
But no matter how well maintained and how carefully you regulate the ambient temperature and humidity, every hardwood flooring will eventually require sanding and refinishing at some point. But that day can be delayed by some simple maintenance hints and tips to lengthen the life and service of any type of hardwood floor sanding and polishing.
Basic Maintenance Tips
>> Hallways, patio door areas and all outside doors should have a heavy duty coir mat and/or boot scraper and, for the children, a plastic ‘welly box’ can stand by to receive muddy boots and shoes before dirt is tracked across the floor.
>> When refurbishing your floor it is also a good idea to apply an additional finishing veneer onto high traffic areas such as doorways, halls and kitchens as added protection against the gritty particles that can act as a damaging abrasive on the boards.
>> Colourful rugs look great in children’s bedrooms, as well as protecting the floor boards from scrapes and scores caused by toys, pets and wear and tear. But make sure they are secured safely and don’t represent a trip or slip hazard.
>> Whenever possible, do not wear stiletto heels on the floor as they exert concentrated pressure on the boards that can be expensive to repair. Similarly it is always a good idea to pace large ornaments and plants that sit on the floor on to a doily or saucer before setting on to the floor.
>> Avoid indoor puddles and clear up any liquid spillages at once. Liquid lying on the floor over time can cause bevelling and damage. Any pets should have paw nails trimmed regularly (for their own good as well as that of the floor).
>> Prolonged unshaded sunshine on a hardwood floor will cause it to darken in patches.
>> On average, your hardwood flooring will require sweeping and light vacuuming three times weekly and a once weekly mop through with a damp, not dripping wet, mop. Squeezy microfiber mops are excellent for use on hardwood flooring.
No matter how well maintained the floor, there will come a time when the natural shine is dulled simply due to a natural build-up on the planks and the only way to restore your floor’s natural sparkle is to sand and refinish.
Sanding involved removing the old veneer, smoothing boards and applying new finishing. You can take this opportunity to repair damaged boards or boards which have draughty gaps. You can also choose a different type of finishing if you prefer. Once the floor has been fully sanded it becomes naturally porous and will absorb lacquer, varnish, wood stain or oil finishing coats equally well.
Sanding a floor can be done by the enthusiastic DIY’er who is willing to use a bit of elbow grease and can work on their hands and knees for extended periods. Otherwise you can choose a free quotation from a local floor sanding company who will be happy to assess your floor with no obligation to purchase.
If you are going down the DIY route then you will require an industrial sander. These are usually available as drum or belt sanders, which can be walked along the grain of the boards, sanding as it goes. Corners and the 12-inch perimeter strip around the edge of the room will have to be sanded by hand using a palm sander.
An average hardwood floor sanding will require at least two, possibly three, sandings. Use a finer grade of paper in the machine each time and lightly vacuum between sandings to remove residual dust between the boards. You will know the floor has received its final sanding as it will feel even and very smooth to the touch.
Apply your finishing of choice exactly as per manufacturer’s instructions and always work in a well ventilated room.