Most households have no idea how to maintain their hardwood floor correctly. You will walk into their kitchen and under their sink they will have 5 various “hardwood floor” cleaners in there. Those 5 cleaners could be scuffing your surface, building up junk on your finish or even discoloring the finish. It is very important to be using the right products & machines to make your hardwood floor last for as long as it can. Below is a complete guide about everything maintenance for hardwood floors.
What Causes Hardwood Floor Finishes to Break Down
The finish on hardwood flooring is a very durable substance that is around 2 mils thick (depending on how many finish coats you have on your floor). Every time you walk on the floor a very minuscule amount of finish comes off. The amount of finish coming off with each step can be amplified with dust or dirt on your floor, even worse – small rocks. Each little piece of foreign objects on a floor act as “sand paper” essentially and rubs the finish harshly.
How to Prevent Dirt and Rocks From Coming on Your Floor
The first step in floor care is preventing your floor from getting dirt or rocks on your finish. As we learned above that is the #1 reason why floors prematurely get worn down or look “bad”.
Mats – You want to have mats outside each door that will be mats to “catch” dirt in. We have found that scraper mats to be the best, or something similar. We think scraper mats are the best because they actually agitate your shoe prior to walking in the house thus getting rocks and dirt off your shoe. A scraper mat is one like this: Bed Bath & Beyond scraper mat.
No Shoes – The mats are second choice but will work for every family. A more extreme view would be to allow no shoes worn in the house. This would probably cut down on 90% of your dirt entering the house. Your socks for the most part will not transfer much dirt and no rocks into the house. This would prolong your finish many years alone without any of the steps listed below.
Routine Cleaning Wood Floors – Properly!
Now that we have the dust, dirt and rocks under control it will make cleaning much easier. The first step in cleaning is getting the right products that will not damage the finish. Below is the list of products to have:
- A-Max Cleaner
- Microfiber Mop With Handle
- Swiffer Dry Mop
The first step is to swiffer the whole floor. You want to swiffer so that you can get all the major dirt and dust off the floor. If you do not do this step first your microfiber will get clogged up so fast you will be shaking your head. The swiffer dry mop is a great way to pick up the rough amount of stuff on the floor in a fast manner.
The second step is to use squeaky floor cleaner by basic coatings with a microfiber mop. The reason I recommend squeaky is that is is a alcohol based product and virtually leaves no streaks if you use it correctly. This is also the product the professionals use to clean your floor with a scrubber. It is safe and effective.
!!!!Important!!!! – The third step is how you clean with a microfiber mop correctly. Most people do not know the trick to having a fully streak free floor. You need to run the mop with the grain of the wood. This means if the planks are going left or right follow them or if they are going north and south follow them that way. By going with the grain while cleaning any possible streaks left by from the microfiber mop will be hidden by the grain of the boards.
Yearly Deep Clean – Floor Scrubber
By doing all the above on your floor even everyday will not get everything out of your floor. The wood itself will have micro pockets where dirt will fall into and impossible to get out. The only way to get these out is to do a deep cleaning of your hardwood. The Dirt Dragon by Basic Coatings is a machine that is self contained and leaves no residue behind. It sprays water with solution on your floor and then scrubs with the solution on the hardwood floor finish. The scrubbers do absolutely no damage to your finish. The scrubbing action mixed with a pH 11.5 product and even the toughest dirt will come out of the deepest wood pores. You can learn more about the deep cleaning process here: Deep cleaning for Hardwood Floors. By doing a deep clean each year you are prolonging your floor by getting all possible dirt and debris off your floor. As mentioned above the major cause for premature finish issues is dirt and pebbles.
How to Prevent scratching with Chairs and Tables
Chairs and tables can really kill a finish, to be honest anything with “legs” is not great for floors. The good news is there is a way to prevent anything from happening. You will want to take off any factory pads installed on the feet of the legs. This means anything plastic or round on the bottom of the legs. You will then want to purchase felt pads. Put those felt pads on every foot of every piece of furniture. The main cause for issues in floors is that the plastic pieces installed at the factory will actually change the sheen of your floor due to the extreme heat they produce when sliding the chair or table around. On chairs you will want to replace these pads every 4-8 months as suggest by the NWFA.
Wood Floor Products to Not to Use
In the first paragraph we said if you opened the kitchen cabinet you would find products you should not use. Those products really do damage your floor. They are not meant for real hardwood finishes like bona, sunfinish or basic. The finishes you want to keep away from are the following:
- orange glow
- murphy’s oil
- steam mops
Orange glow is an acrylic which will build up on your floor and then start to flake off after time. The murphy’s oil continue to build up on your floor and just gather dust/dirt. Vinegar is a harsh cleaner, it will etch your finish after a while and take any sheen you had away.
Steam mops are awful for hardwood floors, the reason for this is that steam is not water. Steam is a smaller particle that can actually be injected through the finish and into the wood. Once the steam is cooled it becomes water and is unable to clean UNDER the finish, this over time will actually rot your wood.
Cleaning is the most essential thing to keeping your hardwood floor lasting for a long time. Most water based finishes last around 5-7 years – water-based UV lasts around 12. If properly maintained they can even last longer. Use the steps above to make your floor last as long as possible. Remember dirt & pebbles are your enemy. If you had to only do a few things mentioned above – mats – weekly cleaning and a yearly clean will help tremendously. Call A-max Hardwood if you have any hardwood cleaning questions, we can guide you through them!