There’s nothing like gleaming new hardwood floors. Hardwood can take a lot of abuse, but it’s also susceptible to scratches and damage from pets, furniture, and all of that holiday foot traffic. Experts often recommend that everyone remove their shoes in the house to reduce dirt and allergens indoors. But that’s not always a practical option. Here are some care tips to keep your hardwood in good shape for years to come.
If you have built a new home, your builder will give you the specific care information you need to maintain your hardwood floors. Otherwise, make sure you know what type of protective barrier was used on the wood — a penetrating wax or an water- or oil-based coating like polyurethane. Waxed surfaces should not be cleaned with water and will need to be re-coated regularly. If your floor has a polyurethane finish that has been damaged or is looking worn, have a professional sand and refinish the wood.
Keep it Clean
Grit and dirt can really wear down a hardwood floor over time and ruin the finish. So vacuuming, sweeping and dry mopping on a regular basis is the best way to maintain the look of your floors. If you use your regular vacuum, turn off the beater brush. Microfiber mops are better than brooms, which can also scratch the surface. Wipe up spills immediately, and only wash with a well-wrung, damp rag or mop and water mixed with a small amount of dish soap or other mild soap. Lots of hardwood cleaners promise to leave your floors shining, which really means they are made with products that cause build-up and can actually dull the wood over time. Buff floors with a dry cloth after washing to remove moisture.
Soften Those Feet
Place protective felt pads on the underside of your furniture’s feet, especially dining room chairs and other pieces that get pushed around. If you have small children, you might also want to designate rolling toys for certain areas, or make sure that the wheels are always clean.
Stop Dirt in its Tracks
Choose a doormat based on more than just looks. Make sure it’s sturdy enough to stand up to vigorous foot wiping, and textured enough to really clean off those treads. Place doormats at all entrances to your home, not just the front door. And this time of year, set up boot trays or extra rugs in your entryway to collect snowy footwear. If you are really worried about party guests showing up in high heels or wet boots, consider laying out a “red carpet” of runner rugs in high traffic areas of your home.