How to Keep Your Hardwood Floor Looking Great
Dealing with Stains
As any pet owner will know, puppies and kittens do leave ‘calling cards’ where they shouldn’t! When they do this on your hardwood floor and it goes unnoticed for a while it will leave a dark stain (as well as a rather pungent aroma). Other enemies to your hardwood flooring are ink and crayon stains, coffee, tea and fruit juice spillages. Of course if you see a stain happening in front of you, then it’s relatively easy to deal with. You can simply whip out the floor cleaner and get right into removing it. But the stains we are talking about here are those sneaky stains left by Rover and Tiddles in those dark corners or under the sofa!
If the stain is on the veneer only and has not penetrated into the wood, all you have to do is take care of it right away by using a very fine rubbing pad and then buff it up with a soft dry cloth. If however the stain has seeped through into the boards then you will need a pH neutral floor cleaner. PH neutral cleaners will not leave a residual topcoat of film on your floor and can be found in washing up liquids and other associated products.
While persistent flooring squeaks are annoying, they are actually not difficult to remove. 99% of squeaks are caused when the floor joist, subfloor and hardwood flooring have shifted and that annoying little squeak you hear is the nails moving in the holes. Floors can also move naturally due to age or climate. For a permanent squeak solution the floor should be re-nailed.
Never underestimate the sanding process as it makes a major difference to the finished result. The better the sanding, the better the floor. Sanding can be undertaken by hand (very long job), or by a drum sander (quicker but can leave roller marks) or by the latest hi-tech sanding machines handled by professional floor sanding experts (infinitely preferable!).
Sanding will remove the current veneer on your floor to leave the boards with an all-round smoothness. It is important to the finished process that the floor is uniformly sanded, as over or under-sanding on parts of the floor leads to an imperfect finish.
When sanding is completed you can inspect the floor for protruding nails, gaps between the boards, loose boards etc. Now is the time to attend to these pesky problems before beginning the finishing process.
Wood stain should only ever be applied to a sanded floor. Never, ever apply stain on top of an existing stain or varnish; therein lies the path to ugly lumps and uneven finishes, and you will wish you had never started the process in the first place.
So let’s say the floor is freshly sanded and now ready for its coat of wood stain. There are many types of stain you can use, depending on the effect you want to achieve. Select from clear stain, white pigmented stain, dye stains, gel stains and lacquers. Stain must be applied evenly across the floor in order to avoid bubbling and blemishes. Certain stains can even be mixed to give a unique colour to your floor.
A regular and thorough cleaning will help your floor retain its good looks for longer. Use a soft brush to remove dust or a light vacuum cleaner if you prefer. Mopping your hardwood floor need not be done daily; once every 7 – 10 days is usually enough if you are brushing regularly.
When using the mop be sure to wring it out thoroughly to avoid making the floor sopping wet as this will, through time, warp the wood and may also cause discolouration.
Treat your floor to a polish by tying a dry duster over a mop head (again dry) and gently buffing the boards.