How to Clean, Maintain and Protect Your Hardwood Floors

Love your cleaning hardwood floors but tiptoe around how to properly clean them? You're not alone. Many people with hardwood floors may ask the same question like "How do I clean and maintain my hardwood floors?"

What's the Type of Your Hardwood Floor - Finished or Unfinished?

Maintaining your hardwood floors can be risky business if you don't know what you're doing. There are two types of hardwood floors: finished and unfinished. The only time you're really gonna encounter unfinished floor is if you have a home that's older that's built maybe prior to 1950s, other than that the hardwood floors in your home should be finished.

The majority of hardwood is finished with a smooth shiny polyurethane coating, there are other hardwood floors that are finished with like an oil-based coating, but either way you're still gonna clean them the exact same way.

If you do happen to have unfinished hardwood floors in your home, the only thing you can really do is sweep and vacuum the trash up and then maybe put a little bit of wax on them. You can't spray chemicals, you can't get water on them, because unfinished wood just absorbs those chemicals and water like a sponge, leaving you with patches of water stains all over your floor's.

If for whatever reason you're unsure what type of hardwood floors you do have, just take a little teaspoon of water go to the corner of the room, pour it on the floor. If the water just sits on top they're finished; If the hardwood floors absorb it really fast, they're unfinished.

Clean and Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

If properly maintained, hardwood flooring will last for decades. Hardwoods need to be kept clean and free of the dust and debris that can scratch and dull the surface. 

High-traffic areas should be swept as often as possible. Heavily trafficked areas should be cleaned every week or two using a damp mop. Wet the mop and wring out most of the water so it is just damp. Avoid leaving any standing water to the floor, because this can damage the wood, and this is especially true for pre-finished hardwood floors. Unless the surface was sealed with polyurethane after installation, the water will seep between the boards.

If your floors are well sealed, you can add a wood cleaning product diluted to the manufacture's instruction when mopping. Avoid using harsh detergents. They'll dull the surface.

You can find a wide variety of wood care products both in store and online. There are products that allow you to simply spray and mop. For an even quicker clean, there are disposable wet pads, which are perfect for touch-up cleaning, but be sure to select the wet pads specifically formulated for cleaning hardwoods.

There are also floor polishes that help restore the shine and offer protection against wear. These products will also help fill small scratches and are available in low and high gloss finishes. To revitalize worn floors, use a floor wax, these not only provide a deep clean, but they leave a satin finish that protects and beautifies hardwoods.

Regardless of which product you choose, always apply them with the grain of the wood. If your product requires a mop application, rinse the mop often and wring it dry. Although many products will dry pretty quickly, you can speed the process by turning on a ceiling fan or the floor can be dried using a soft microfiber cloth.

Protect Your Hardwood Floors

So you just purchased your new hardwood floors. Now we need to protect that investment. Protecting floors well is simple but not easy. Here are some basic tips and tricks to have your floor well protected for the duration of your job!

The first thing is to add a new area rug. Nothing can pull a room together better than a well-placed rug. Area rugs are great at protecting your hardwood floors from wear and tear. Not only it is great for everyday wear and tear, but it also brings an extra dimension to your room place. In an area rug underneath the legs of your furniture will prevent scratches. How you place the rug all depends on the size and layout of your room.

If an area rug does not fit into your home's decor, you can also add something like heave duty felt pads, cup-shape silicone floor protectors, nail-on felt pads, or soft knit furniture/ chair socks, etc. And if you don't have any ideas, you can refer to my other post about How to Choose the Best Floor Protectors to Prevent Your Floor?

These floor protectors should be put on all of your furniture, especially the furniture that moves. Dining room chairs, bar stools, ottomans, and even larger items like sofas or entertainment centers that may occasionally move. Hardwood floors will scratch and will dent; these floor protectors will help prevent that.

The third thing is to place a door mat at each entrance to your home, so that everyone can wipe their feet as they come in. Using mats will keep dirt off your floors. Ideally, floor mats will also catch rocks and other small debris that could scratch the wood. 

The fourth thing is to wipe the floor as quickly as possible when something spills on your hardwood floor. Then clean and dry the area to prevent stains.

Fix Scratches in Your Hardwood Floors

No matter how often you clean your hardwood floor, scratches are inevitable especially if you have pets. No mater how carefully you protect your hardwood floor from furniture scratches, there are still accident scratches happen. There are liquid scratch concealers that when dry form a permanent seal that won't come off during cleaning. And here are also some DIY ways for your reference to fix a scratch in a hardwood floor.

Hardwood floors are beautiful and durable flooring options in your home, but they are not invincible to scratching, and when that happens it can bring about serious anxiety in a homeowner. While some scratches might add character to a home, others can be serous eyesores in need of some TLC.

Fix A Small Shallow Scratch

For a small shallow scratch, you'll likely need a stain pen or a can of stain in a color as close to the existing floor as possible. Use the stain pen to add a small amount of stain to the scratch to blend it in with the surrounding floor, so it doesn't catch your eye.

For a lighter colored floor, you may wanna apply the stain to a rag or cloth first and then gently wipe it into the scratch, so it doesn't become too dark and make the scratch stand out even further.

You'd better test your chosen stain pen on a piece of scrap wood before applying it to make sure it's as close to the color of your wood floor as possible.

Fix A Slightly Larger or Deeper Scratch

For a slightly larger or deeper scratch, another option is to apply a melted wax in a closely matched color to the scratch. There are variety of wax kits available or you could even use a crayon to fill it in.

Using a heat gun or blow dryer, heat the wax until it is slightly melted, and then apply it to the scratch on the floor, filling it to just above the scratch. Then using a clean rag, bugg the scratch and surrounding area to blend it in.

Fix A Large Scratch or Chip in the Flooring

For a large scratch or chip in the flooring, you'll likely need a stainable wood filler, a stain pen or stain matching your floor, some painter's tape, some wipe on poly, a small painter's tool or putty knife, and a sanding sponge or sandpaper.

Apply some painter's tape around the area you're fixing, and then add the wood filler into the hole or scratch, attempting to keep it as smooth as possible. Once dry, lightly sand the area and attempt to feather the edges with the surrounding floor.

Next, apply the stain to the patched area using either a foam brush or a rag. It's never a bad idea to test the look of the stain on the wood filler in an inconspicuous area or on a piece of scrap just to make sure it matches the floor when finished.

Once the stain is dried, if your floor has a luster to it, apply a small amount of wipe on poly to the area to help blend in the fixed area with the existing floor.

Conclusion

We hope these tips will help you maintain your hardwood floors for many years.