Household Tips

Household Tips: Hardwood Floor Care - Protecting The Investment

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Caring for hardwood flooring is important but not difficult. By avoiding a few pitfalls, the beauty of the flooring and investment made in it can be protected.

Caring for hardwood floors can be done relatively easily. Suppliers offer long guarantees, often fifty years, on quality hardwood materials used for flooring but those normally only protect against defects in the wood itself. Hardwoods are often used for their long-lasting qualities but it is small detrimental effects over time that cause most of the problems and these are normally classed as "wear and tear" and understandably do not carry any warranty.

[B]Common Causes Of Damage To Hardwood Floors[/B]

Scuffs, scrapes and marks on hardwood floors are most likely to occur where there is the heaviest traffic. Stiletto heels or similar high or heavy heels will do relatively high amounts of damage very quickly to wooden floors. Moving furniture or portable equipment directly across the hardwood floor is another common cause of damage.

Water does not mix well with wood, despite the wood containing a small amount of its own natural moisture. As well as spillages, using excessive amounts of liquid in wood floor cleaners can be a cause of damage. Prolonged sunlight on floors and uneven amounts of the same will inevitably discolor a hardwood floor in the same way that it will affect many furnishings.

[B]Preventative Measures Against Common and Less Obvious Damage[/B]

The main cause of damage to a hardwood floor that is subject to normal use without spillages or similar events is actually ingrained dust and dirt that gets into scratches or dents in the floor surface. Grit walked into the room from outside is the most common issue and is particularly damaging.

One source of adding water to a floor that is often overlooked until it is too late is through placing plants on the floor or standing them in bowls or dishes on the floor. While water may drain through the pot, a dish is no protection because condensation can accumulate under the dish and mark the hardwood floor.

Prevention being much better than cure, especially where hardwood floors are involved and cure is not always a possibility, should include:

- Using mats and rugs around doorways or in areas of heavy traffic.
- Any stains or spills clearly should be wiped up immediately. Hot drinks will not normally damage a quality floor but as time wears on there is an increased likelihood of the hot liquid melting the wax that most hardwood floors are coated with.
- Lifting rather than dragging furniture or equipment, and adding and regularly replacing pads on the feet or legs of chairs and tables is an inexpensive and effective method.
- Furniture and mats may have their place in protecting the floor from sunlight, but a much more effective method is to use louvred blinds on the windows. This allows most light into the room while not letting the most damaging ultraviolet light directly onto the floor.
- Even with these measures in place, cleaning the hardwood floor regularly and frequently is required. A little care has to be exercised even when cleaning.

[B]Cleaning Hardwood Floors[/B]

Hardwood floor cleaner should be of the type recommended by the relevant floor manufacturer and should be applied regularly. Cleaning the hardwood floor inappropriately can cause problems, even with conventional methods unless some care is exercised. Brooms can be used on well-sealed floors, but the bristles acting on grit, especially where it accumulates as it is brushed, might again cause problems over time.

Soft brushes or dust mops should be used on hardwood. Vacuum cleaners, which again should be lifted across the floor, can be used. Most vacuum cleaners carry a "floor" setting specifically for the purpose of lifting dust of the floor rather than scraping it into the surface. Mops can and should be used after the brushing and vacuuming, but without too much water and the floor surface should not be left moist for any length of time to prevent any build-up of mildew even at a minute level. Attention to just these small details helps keep the floor looking its best for many years.

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