By the House Tipster Staff
Hardwood floors can be a lifelong addition to any home if they're maintained correctly. Don’t throw all your hard earned money down the drain – protect your investment! It’s easier than you think, but it does take some effort and increased vigilance.
This comprehensive article offers easy-to-follow advice on how to protect your hardwood floors so they’ll continue to look beautiful year after year. Now, without further ado, here are 12 easy ways to protect your hardwood floors.
Start at the Door
A great way to make sure friends and family don’t track dirt and mud into your house, destroying your beautiful hardwood floors, is to ensure a clean and clear pathway into your house. This all starts at your front door. Be sure to sweep any debris from the area, and don’t let undesired stains take hold.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with an outdoor rug. Have your guests wipe their feet on it before they step on your hardwoods, and remember to shake the rug out regularly, otherwise, they’ll be tracking the debris right back into the house.
Rugs Are Your Friend
Rugs are going to be your best friend when it comes to protecting your hardwood floors. Obviously, you’re going to want some sort of welcome mat where people can clean their dirty shoes, but this goes for inside as well. Area rugs are perfect for extending the life of you hardwood floors, and they work best in high traffic areas like your living room.
This is also important in entryways and high traffic hallways, as these areas will be the first to show signs of wear and tear if not protected. Also, area rugs are a great way to show off your sense of style, so they don’t have to take away from the beauty of your hardwood floors.
Try Furniture Pads
Ideally, it would be nice to put most of your heavy furniture on your rugs, effectively killing two birds with one stone. However, sometimes the spacing doesn’t work, or your rugs aren’t large enough, and when this happens you will need a Plan B: furniture pads.
Try using furniture pads throughout your living areas, this way the weight of people sitting for extended periods of time doesn’t damage your beloved hardwood floors.
While sweeping is going to put less stress on your hardwood floors, there is going to come a time when they will need to be vacuumed and it’s important that you do this correctly. Make sure you’re using the right attachment, as the attachment you use to vacuum carpets and other areas may be too rough for your delicate hardwoods.
Your vacuum should come with a hardwood attachment – use it. It is specially designed to be gentle so it doesn’t scratch them up, while safely picking that unwanted dirt and dust.
Perhaps more important than vacuuming is remembering to sweep regularly to avoid that unwanted build up in the first place, it's a great way to take care of your hardwood floors. Sweeping is going to be much easier on your hardwood floors, so you can pretty much dust as often as need be.
While it may not look like much, letting debris sit on your hardwood floors can end up denting and nicking them, as it’s likely the debris will be stepped on, sending the undesired material deeper in your floors. If you stay on top of sweeping, you’ll never have to worry about damaging your hardwood floors, and worse yet, shortening their life.
Don’t Let Spills Settle
Never, I repeat never, let spills settle on your hardwood floor. And I’m not just talking about the acidic coffee or red wine you accidentally dropped after having a little too much, you’re going to want to get water off your hardwood floors as quickly as possible too.
This may be one of the more obvious, but it’s still one of the most important of the easy ways to protect your hardwood floors.
Don’t be tempted to mop your hardwood floors, as this will do much more harm than good. Most homeowners have no clue that their regular mopping is seriously damaging their hardwood floors. Mopping will allow liquids to penetrate your hardwood floors, seeping down deep into the core and causing the wood to bloat and warp.
If you feel like your floors are just too filthy, and you absolutely must deep clean them, opt for a slightly damp lukewarm rag and spot clean them. This will allow for more control, and you can wipe up the excess moisture almost immediately, limiting the chances of doing long-term damage to those sweet looking hardwood floors.
Select Cleaners Carefully
Always be aware of what type of cleaning agents you’re using on your delicate hardwood floors. Some supposedly safe cleaners on the market actually contain chemicals that are extremely dangerous to your hardwood floors, and with repeated use, they can strip your floors of their essence. These chemicals can dull their shine, and on some extreme occasions, eat into the wood itself.
It’s best to do some research beforehand, as choosing the correct cleaner will save you a headache down the road. Try to avoid ammonia and vinegar based cleaners, as their high levels of acidity will slowly eat into the woodwork. Excessively oily soaps can cause unwanted buildup, diluting the shine of your floors. Be sure to check with your manufacturer to figure out what works best with your flooring.
Start a Schedule
The best way to ensure all this cleaning gets done and you maintain pristine hardwood floors is to start a cleaning schedule (and stick to it). If you don’t remember when the work needs to be done, or who is supposed to do it, how do you ever expect anything to get done?
With regular maintenance, your hardwood floors can maintain their luster and shine for an incredibly long time. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but perhaps the easiest is a chore wheel, assuming you have at least a few people in the home. Do whatever you have to do, make it fun, just make sure the work gets done and you’ll seriously prolong their life – it’s one of the easiest ways to protect your hardwood floors.
For more tips on cleaning hardwood floors, click that link for more hardwood tips from the House Tipster staff.
Take Off Your Shoes
One of the more obvious ways to protect your hardwood floors is to implement a no shoes in the house policy. Come home from work or school – take off your shoes! Taking those filthy shoes out of the equation makes sure you aren’t tracking dirt all over the house, leaving behind debris in places that don’t often get checked.
It may take a little getting used to, but once you get into a routine I’ll bet you would never dream of clomping around on your hardwood floors in your dirty shoes. Try installing a welcome mat in your foyer or whatever small area leads up to your flooring.
Renew the Finish
Just because you’ve installed and sealed your hardwood floors doesn’t mean your job is over, in order to have your floors remain in terrific condition, you’re going to have to occasionally renew the finish. If you feel like your floors are starting to fade and wilt, brighten them up with a sanding and polyurethane finish.
This can be done every few years, or on a need basis. If you set up a regular maintenance schedule and remember to renew your finish, you may never have to refinish your hardwood floors again, which is money saved. Be sure to check in with a flooring pro before you go ahead with your work though, as they can help make the job that much easier.
Watch for Scratches
This may be a tough one if you have a bunch of pets, but watching for scratches is one of the easy ways to protect your hardwood floors. If you happen to be a pet owner, make sure your cats and dogs have their nails clipped regularly, otherwise serious surface scratches are going to be inevitable. This will also help protect your furniture, so it’s a win-win.
Installing those furniture pads should help with this as well, and they’re highly recommended for your hardwood floors. Felt pads work best for this, as they’re widely available and relatively inexpensive. Lastly, remember to actually lift and not drag your furniture when moving it, as dragging a heavy couch can really dent up your hardwood floors.
Installing hardwood floors is a serious investment, and you’re going to want to take measures to ensure that you get the most out of them.
The best offense is a good defense, and these easy ways to protect your hardwood floors will prove that over time. Now if this all seems like more work than it's worth, here's our opposition piece, for those who don't want hardwood floors.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com