Your Hardwood Floor & You
It is recognised that a good hardwood floor adds value as well as beauty to any home. But it is amazing how many people don’t maintain their floors properly, sometimes ending up having to re-finish or replace boards because they have warped or become damaged due to general lack of care. If you splash out on a state-of-the-art kitchen you know it will look beautiful and enhances the value of your home, but you don’t expect the kitchen to clean itself (although that would be fabulous!). So if you don’t expect your kitchen equipment to last without some sort of routine maintenance, why should your wooden floors be any different?
In fact your hardwood floor sanding needs a lot less maintenance than a kitchen does to keep it looking good. All your floor needs is a little weekly TLC in the form of a soft brush or a quick going over with a duster on a dry mop. In addition to this small requirement your floor will need a monthly mopping with a slightly damp (never a dripping wet) mop. You can add a dash of good old-fashioned white vinegar in your bucket of water if you don’t want to fork out for a special cleaner, as vinegar works just as well.
How to clean
Whatever type of floor cleaner you favour, never use anything with ammonia on a wooden floor. Don’t be tempted to spray furniture polish on the floor looking for that perfect shine either, as this will cause an unwanted waxy coating that’s difficult to remove as well as being extremely dangerous to walk on. If you do want to dry dust your floor then use a micro-fibre cloth rather than a yellow duster, which tends to leave minute cloth particles between the boards.
Be sure never to leave puddles of water on the floor, as this will lead to warping (where one edge of the board becomes raised slightly from the floor), or shrinkage that leaves gaps between the boards. These gaps, although small and difficult to see with the naked eye, can be the cause of draughts and annoying creaks and squeaks especially during colder weather.
Little and often
The best way to maintain your floor is adopt an approach of ‘little and often’. Get yourself into a weekly routine of maintenance and ensure a long and happy life for your floor. This will help you to keep the workload down to a minimum, yet still keeps your floor looking beautiful.
If your floor really is too far gone to be resurrected by elbow grease, vinegar and sheer willpower then you may want to think about having the floor re-finished. Re-finishing means is that the topcoat or veneer of the floor is sanded away and a new finishing applied. If you have no idea how your floor was originally finished then this is a good exercise in proper floor maintenance.
You can hire a sander and have a go at re-finishing yourself, but if you prefer you can have a professional in to sand and re-finish your floor for less than you might think. When the floor is sanded it will have a slightly blanched look and be very smooth and even to the touch. Now is the time to apply your finishing of choice. If you are having a professional re-finish then talk it over with your advisor before deciding what type of finish is right for your home. Finishings are available in wax, lacquer, wood stain, varnish and oil.
When your floor has received its makeover and has been returned its original condition, keep up that maintenance and your floor will continue to grace your home for many years to come.