Why can’t I ever seem to keep my hardwood looking fresh? Do you have any advice on hardwoods? — Shauna
Shauna, I’d be glad to give you a primer on your hardwoods! It’s interesting that even though everyone desires hardwood floors, there isn’t a high level of understanding about its care. You’re not alone in your thoughts about hardwood, but the good news is that it’s not too difficult to keep them looking fresh year after year!
The first and most important aspect is to understand what kind of hardwood you have.
In the past, to freshen hardwood required sanding down and refinishing. But now, there are ways to refresh your floors that are a lot less invasive and less expensive.
Typically, hardwood floors are divided into three camps. On one side, there’s an engineered, pre-finished floor. On the other side, a floor that, on site, is finished in place and thirdly there are waxed floors. Depending on the style, your maintenance will differ.
With pre-finished hardwoods, you can dust mop, sweep and vacuuming regularly. Doing so on a weekly basis keeps it clean and free of dirt and grime.
After a while, you can use a surface finish to restore shine. When it comes to surface finishes, be careful. Test the product in a small area to understand what effects the product has on your floor. Not all products do the same thing and some can even hurt more than they can help. Bona has been a great product for us, but it doesn’t mean it’s great for everyone and every floor.
However, it’s important to note: DON’T WAX a surface-finished floor. Doing so could damage the finish of your floors. Similarly, don’t use tile or vinyl floor care products; they likely will do more damage than good.
The old toxic Swedish Finishes are hardly used anymore. The new water based finishes offer excellent protection and longevity. They are also very easy for a professional to recoat every few years without sanding down. They can even touch up the traffic areas and it’s easy for a professional to blend it in without needing to do 100% of the surface. In terms of maintenance, dust mop and damp mop the same as you would a prefinished floor. Again, our hardwood guy recommends Bona cleaner found in most grocery stores. Just spray it on and mop with damp mop.
Waxed hardwood floors are not as common here in the northwest as they are in the south. Beware that once you wax a floor you will have to continue to wax it on a regular basis in order to maintain the warm, rich appearance that you get from a waxed floor. Our floor guy used to live in the south and he would go into the plantation estates once every few weeks to do professional waxing and the live-in maids would polish it and care for it in the meantime. It requires a lot of maintenance to maintain that freshly waxed look.
Be Aware Of
There are, however, some additional notes that can keep the floor in a pristine condition.
For starters, it’s generally not a good idea to use a wet mop to clean your floors. You can use a damp mop, but leaving extra water on your hardwoods could lead to damaged floors.
More generally, you can keep floors fresh by putting rugs on the most heavily trafficked areas, usually around entrances to rooms. It’s also a good idea to avoid walking on hardwood floors with cleats or high-heeled shoes.
Hopefully, Shauna, these tips can work as a good start for keeping your floor in shape. If you have more questions or need help with your floors, let us know!
Have a question for Careothers? Email him at AskCareothers@tendhome.com.