Up and down the country, homeowners are increasingly abandoning carpets in favour of something that looks and feels very different: a floor made entirely from planks of wood. Such floors not only look the part – but they don’t require anywhere near as much maintenance as their carpeted cousins. If you’re the owner of an especially hairy dog, you won’t need to spend anywhere near as much time cleaning up stray hairs as you might with a thick, shaggy carpet.
Owners of hardwood floors, however, will need to ensure that they perform occasional maintenance in order to keep things looking as good as possible. This maintenance comes in several different levels of severity – you’ll want to perform light maintenance regularly and heavy maintenance rarely. Let’s take a closer look at how to proceed.
Over the course of a day, a hardwood floor can accumulate a great deal of dust and other detritus. Fortunately, getting rid of this a matter of simply getting out a mop or brush and sweeping it to one side. You’ll want to ensure that the floor is dry when you do this – getting the floor wet will endanger the wood, ruin the finish and cause rot to develop. Wet mops and steam-cleaners are definitely out.
For this reason, it’s also important to address any acute stressors as they occur. If you spill your tea on your hardwood floor, then you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and get it up immediately. Allowing liquids to soak into the floor will assuredly cause them damage – so mop it up!
Of course, no matter how thoroughly you sweep your floor, there will always be a few particles of dust and grime that don’t get picked up. Each day, this ‘base layer’ of caked-on dirt can accumulate, until eventually your floor looks visibly duller.
You’ll want to get rid of this using a dedicated floor cleaner. Get one that’s especially designed for wooden surfaces – those built for acrylics can cause wood to become dull and a little slippery. Apply the cleaner to the floor directly and the dirt will lift up; then remove it with your mop.
Wooden floors come with a layer of wax that protects them against harm and allows them to look their best. Over time, however, this layer can be eroded. It’s best, therefore, to occasionally give it a refresh with a bottle of wax. Pour a little bit onto your cloth and rub it gently into the wood. Unlike other sorts of finish, which sit on the top of the wood, wax will soak into the surface – providing every fibre with a decent level of protection.
Since flooring will be subject to a great deal more punishment than other sorts of furniture, you might be tempted to apply this coat generously. This is inadvisable, however. Instead you’ll want to use a small amount of wax and buff the floor until it shines. In some areas, more wax will be necessary to counteract the abrasion of foot traffic. In others – like under furniture and in other low-traffic areas, you’ll want to go a little bit easier – or perhaps even skip the waxing altogether.
After a certain amount of time it’s inevitable that a hardwood floor will pick up a few nicks and scratches. While these will probably be minor, after a while they’ll build to the point that the overall look of the floor begins to suffer. In order to correct for this, it’s worth getting some fine sandpaper out and giving the floor a light scrubbing. Be sure that you do this as evenly as possible; you’re not looking to create peaks and valleys in the surface of the floor. Once this is done, you can then apply a new coat of wax, and the floor should look as good as new!
General hardwood floor-maintenance tips
Caring for your hardwood floor isn’t just something that should be done after the damage has been inflicted – there are also a few things you might do to prevent it from occurring:
Avoid high-heels. They’ll focus your entire body weight into a tiny little area, and cause damage to the floor. Even if you only weigh eight stone, focusing that weight into a point will cause damage.
Use a humidifier. Controlling the moisture levels in your interior will go a long way toward protecting your flooring against problems.