How To Maintain Wood Flooring
Wooden floors are beautiful, elegant and timeless and, with proper care, should last for decades. The natural strength and warmth of wood have been used for centuries and to this day, it remains the material of choice for flooring. Whether you’ve had a new solid or engineered wood floor installed, stripped back an old floor or used reclaimed boards, ongoing maintenance is key to making sure they last a lifetime.
So, what’s the best way to look after your wood floor and keep it looking good? It’s not difficult and doesn’t require a great amount of work, just a consistent approach. Taking care of your floor will be easy if you follow the advice below.
Cleaning your wooden floor
Wood floors are easier to keep clean than carpet because they can easily be swept and wiped, meaning stains don’t form easily. However, that doesn’t mean you can neglect it, as regular cleaning will ensure your floor lasts longer.
Dust daily with a microfibre mop
Microfibre safely traps dust, dirt, pet hair and other allergens with static electricity, meaning it is taken up from the floor rather than just moved around. Microfibre mops are also safer to use than brooms as hard bristles can scratch your floor. Daily dusting is important to remove hard particles which can easily damage your floor if walked on and worn in.
Vacuum every week with a bristle attachment
Dust the floor before you begin as the hard particles described above can scratch the service if gone over with a heavy vacuum cleaner. Make sure you have a soft bristle brush attachment fitted as you can easily damage the floor if you vacuum vigorously without one. Whether you have an upright vacuum cleaner or a cylinder model, be careful that you don’t damage the floor with its wheels.
Mop with a little water and hardwood floor cleaner once a month
Dilute a little hardwood floor cleaner in water and clean with a damp mop or floor cloth. The floor will be dry within 30-60 seconds if you’ve used the correct amount of water. Remember that wood floors are very sensitive to water so be sure to avoid getting it too wet.
Extra cleaning tips
Wipe up spillages as soon as possible. If liquid is left lying on the surface of the board it can penetrate the wood and cause staining or even rotting.
Remove shoes. Grit, stones, high heels and heavy soles can easily cause damage to a wood floor.
Don’t steam clean. Though this is a great cleaning method for carpet and other floor types, it can degrade your floor finish and damage the wood beneath.
Maintaining and repairing a wood floor
The best way to maintain your floor depends on whether it is oiled or varnished, but there are some generic rules to cover first that apply to wood floors with any type of finish.
Regular cleaning using the methods described above is the best way to maintain any type of wood floor. The more you clean – including cleaning up spills and splashes immediately - the less serious maintenance you will have to do.
Use furniture pads or felts
Scratches are one of the easiest problems to cause for your wood floor, and also the hardest to solve. Whilst some scratches are inevitable, many are preventable. Put furniture pads or felts under the legs of chairs, tables or other furniture, and beneath wheels or castors under sofas and armchairs.
Use curtains or blinds to protect your floors from UV rays and heat
Direct sunlight can discolour your wood floor, making it look faded and patchy. Closing curtains and blinds will protect the wood (and your other furniture) from excessive heat. Over many years, some fading is inevitable so rearrange furniture and rugs every now and then to ensure that the wood’s appearance ages as evenly as possible.
Trim nails and claws on pets
Pet’s claws can easily scratch the surface of your floor, so keep them trimmed to prevent this. Pets can also easily track dirt and debris onto your floor that can stain and damage so keep an eye on their paws to make sure they are clean.
Oiled floor maintenance and repair
General maintenance for an oiled floor should be undertaken once or twice a year. Apply a small amount of maintenance oil with, if possible, a spray, and gently rub in the oil with a soft cloth to form a fine protective layer. This will help to feed and protect the wood, but be careful to avoid applying excess oil. Leave to dry for around five hours before walking on the floor.
Minor scuffs and stains
Clean the area thoroughly with a dedicated wood floor cleaner that is suitable for your finish, and then apply a thin layer of oil to the area, removing any excess with a microfibre cloth so that the finish looks even. This will help to refresh and replenish the marked area and can be done quickly and easily. Always follow the instructions on the product and make sure you leave the floor for the required time to dry before walking on it.
Scratches and major stains
To repair large stains and obvious scratches, clean the affected area with dedicated wood floor cleaner. When dry, lightly sand the area with 120 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches or stains. Clean the area of any dust and apply a thin coat of floor oil to the area, removing any excess with a cloth.
Should I re-finish?
If you keep on top of maintenance, an oiled wood floor should never need to be entirely re-finished, and will only need to be cleaned, lightly sanded and re-oiled now and again on areas of wear.
Varnished floor maintenance and repair
Varnished floors will dull over time so general maintenance to keep them shiny should be performed a couple of times a year by using specialist polishes. These will add lustre and give extra protection to the surface of the floor.
Minor scuffs and stains
To remove minor scuffs and stains, clean affected areas with a suitable dedicated wood floor cleaner. Only minimal amounts of water should be used on a varnished floor, and avoid using an all-purpose cleaner as this can dull the finish.
Scratches and major stains
Repairing a varnished floor is a bit trickier than repairing an oiled floor as it can be hard to blend repairs with the floor around it, but individual scratches can be treated with a reconditioning product. Preventing damage is easier than fixing it, so make sure you clean and maintain the floor by following the steps described above.
Should I re-finish?
If necessary, following many years of use, a special cleaning product may be used to remove any excess reconditioning varnish, or else the floor may be sanded back and re-varnished. In domestic situations, such sanding is usually only be performed every 15-20 years if at all.
Regular cleaning and maintenance is the key to protecting your floor from stains, scratches and damage, so skimping on effort in the short term could cost you money in the long term. If you follow the steps above and follow the ‘little and often’ approach to caring for your floor, you will get plenty of wear and pleasure from it for years to come.