Cleaning your hardwood floor is simple, and ongoing maintenance will help protect your floor from unnecessary wear and tear and help keep it looking its best.
You've spent a small fortune on your hardwood floor, don't ruin it with a supermarket cleaner or an old wives tale remedy that you found on YouTube.
Your hardwood floor will need a tailored maintenance plan depending on the type of finish it has, but more on that in moment, first let's look at the general cleaning rules for all hardwood floors.
GENERAL RULES FOR CLEANING HARDWOOD FLOORS
• Sweep and vacuum the floor regularly to keep it clean and free of dust and other abrasive materials. • Do not use any harsh household cleaners or any abrasive materials or scouring agents on the floor.
Instead, for a more thorough clean of the hardwood floor, use a wood floor cleaning product suitable for the type of finish on your flooring. • Put felt protector pads on all furniture feet and accessories placed directly on the floor surface. • Place area rugs or doormats at entryways to help prevent dirt and other abrasive or staining materials from being tracked from outdoors.
Choose mats that enable airflow and avoid using rubber-backed or similarly dense matting materials that may trap moisture.
• Place protective mats at high-use work areas such as sinks, cookers and workstations. • Protect the floor from any exposure to liquids, water and other forms of moisture.
Clean up any spilled drink, food or other liquids immediately.
Clean hardwood floors using a well wrung out mop.
Avoid walking on the floor when wet. • Avoid sharp or pointed objects coming into contact with the floor surface.
Do not walk on the floor with high heeled shoes, trainers, or other type of footwear which may cause damage to the finish or cause indentations to the surface. • Use heavy duty moving mats when moving furniture, appliances or other heavy objects across the floor to avoid scratches or scuffs the surface.
• Hardwood flooring reacts to changes in the environment so it is important to ensure that environmental conditions are maintained with a temperature of 18°-24°C (65°-75°F) and humidity at 35 - 55% at all times. Excessive humidity, moisture, heat, or dry conditions can result in cupping or splitting of boards, gapping between boards and/or other problems resulting from exposure to improper environmental conditions, and are not covered by the product warranty. • Wood flooring installed over a radiant heating system should never exceed 27°C (81°F) at floor surface. In addition, dramatic temperature changes should be avoided and temperature adjustments should be gradual, in maximum 5°C increments a day it is important that a dedicated thermostat is installed at floor surface level to allow the temperature to be accurately controlled. • Hardwood flooring will undergo a natural change in colour over time. The degree of colour change varies by species, it is recommended that you do not place area rugs and large furniture items on a new wood floor for at least two months following installation to ensure a uniform change. Following which, periodic re-arrangement of furniture and area rugs will help ensure natural even change.
There are two main types of finishes that you can apply to a hardwood floor and that is a lacquer or a hard wax oil.
A lacquer works by creating a protective film coating over the surface of the board which guards it from damage.
Lacquers are usually available in three different sheen levels: Matt, semi-sheen and gloss.
This allows you to choose a sheen level that suits your interior look, keep in mind that the glossier you go the more surface scratches and scuffs will show up.
In order to remove deep scratches you will need to sand and revarnish the entire floor.
You cannot patch in one or two boards as you will be able to see where the repair work has taken place.
The likelihood is that after a few years (approx. 7-10) of having your floor it will need a refinish to keep it looking it's best.
Lacquered floors also tend to be more hygienic and cope well with household spills.
A hard wax oil protects the floor by penetrating the pores of the wood which results in a more natural feeling product.
Hard wax oils usually matt down quite quickly once they are installed.
The advantage of a hard wax oiled finish is that you can do spot repairs on the floor without having to refinish the entire floor.
After a couple years of use, the finish may look tired and dull, this means that it's time for a maintenance coat.
So long as you don't want to change the colour of your floor, you can just keep applying maintenance oil to your floor.
No sanding is required and the maintenance oil will refresh the finish and mask any surface scratches. If you are doing a full renovation, it would be worth having a final coat of oil applied after the builders have left and the property is empty for a couple of days to allow it to dry.
This additional coat of protection revitalises the floor so that it looks brand new when you move in.
If you find that the maintenance coat isn't getting rid of enough of the scratches (they may be too deep) then you can sand and re-oil the floor. This usually take approx. 1mm off your wear layer.
For regular cleaning of hardwood flooring, try this product, the liquid soap contains vegetable oils which helps to maintain and enrich the finish.
For the maintenance coat to refresh the floor, this can be done annually or whenever you feel the floor finish needs a refresh, I recommend this product.
If you really get stuck and need to clean the floor asap but don't have the correct cleaner to hand, mix 1 part fairy liquid (dish cleaner liquid) to 5 parts water and clean the floor with well wrung out mop.
That is probably the most important point to remember - always damp clean your hardwood floors, don't use too much water as this can damage both the floors construction and the finish.