The 7 Biggest Dangers to Your Wood Floor
An engineered or solid wood floor is an investment that you can expect to last for decades if properly taken care of. Wood floors provide natural and elegant beauty in any room and are very hard-wearing and long-lasting with proper maintenance. However, if you don’t give your wood floor some regular TLC it can become damaged, which will be costly and inconvenient to repair.
Preventing problems in the first place is the best way to safeguard your floor and make sure it lasts for many years to come. Here are the 7 biggest dangers to look out for.
No Protection in Areas of Heavy Foot Traffic
Of course, your floor is going to be walked on, but some areas will get more wear and tear than others, for example, next to the front door and in the hall. When you walk on a wood floor in outdoor shoes, dirt and debris can be tracked inside and get embedded in the wood. Over time, the abrasiveness of even tiny bits of debris can lead to a breakdown of the finish and scratches. Putting a welcome mat at front and back entrances and insisting on a ‘no shoe’ policy will help prevent this problem.
Following on from the above, another way to make sure dirt and debris don’t ruin your floor is through day-to-day cleaning. You should mop your floor once a week or so, but day-to-day dust and grime should be swept up daily if possible (if using a hoover, make sure you use one with a brush attachment to avoid scratches and scrapes). As well as protecting your floor, regular sweeping or hovering allows you to keep an eye out for potential problems such as water damage or fading.
Moisture is one of the major culprits for damaging your wood floor by causing warping and discolouration. This is particularly true in the kitchen and bathroom, where you would expect to find water, but you also need to be alert to it in other areas of the house too. Walking over the floor in wet shoes or allowing wet pets to do so can cause moisture to gather. Items such as dog bowls or plant pots should have a mat or rug beneath them to guard against accidental water spillage. If liquid is spilt, it must be immediately and thoroughly cleaned up so it doesn’t seep beneath the boards.
Mopping is the best method of cleaning your wood floor and getting rid of the dirt and debris that can cause scratches, as described above. However, careless mopping of your floor could cause more harm than good. When mopping your floor, make sure you aren’t using too much water, as it can seep under the boards and cause them to warp, as well as potentially damage the subfloor or lead to the growth of mould. Your mop should be damp, rather than wet and any excess water should be immediately cleaned up.
Another major mistake is using a cleaning product that isn’t suitable for the finish on your wood floor, which could damage the surface. Check with your supplier or fitter what type of detergent you should use, and when trying a new product, test it on a small and inconspicuous part of the floor first.
Not Using Furniture Pads
Furniture poses a risk to your wood floor as it can easily slide across the shiny surface and cause marks, scuffs and scratches. Whilst you have probably thought about heavier items of furniture, such as sofas on wheeled castors of wooden legs, even smaller items, such as occasional tables, can pose a risk, especially if you move them around. Every piece of furniture that directly touches your wood floor should have soft protective pads fixed to the bottom.
Other things that pose the risk of scratching your floor include high-heeled shoes, pet claws and children’s toys. Children may not understand how delicate the floor is and should be encouraged to play on mats or in carpeted areas of your home elsewhere.
A bright, sunny room with an elegant wood floor is undoubtedly a beautiful space, but allowing too much harsh sun on your floor can cause and discolouration. During the summer, when the sun is at its brightest, close curtains or blinds in the middle of the day to protect the floor. Sunlight can also cause fading, which means that areas without furniture or rugs will become lighter than covered areas, causing your floor to look patchy and unsightly. Regularly moving items around will allow the floor to age in a balanced and even way.
Avoiding Proper Maintenance
General maintenance of your wood floor should be undertaken once or twice a year, by applying a small amount of oil over the whole surface of the floor and allowing it to dry for a few hours before walking on it. However, even if you take the utmost care of your wood floor, minor surface damage is inevitable. Small scratches can be easily buffed or sanded out, and then re-finished with a single coat of whichever oil, wax or varnish was originally used. If you continually let minor surface damage go, it will get worse and worse until the entire floor needs sanding back and refinishing, which can be an expensive and inconvenient process.
If you spend money on an elegant engineered or solid wood floor, you’re making an investment that you want to last a long time, but not keeping an eye on the dangers posed by day-to-day living can put it at risk. Preserving the look of your wood floor improves the appearance of your home, and can even add to its value. By properly cleaning your floor, avoiding moisture, protecting it from furniture and pets, and keeping an eye on areas where it is getting dirty or fading, you can ensure it stays in great shapes and continues to look beautiful.
A little care on a regular basis goes a very long way and will protect your floor for many years to come.