Both solid hardwood and engineered wood have a reputation for toughness and durability, and if properly cared for, this type of flooring can last a lifetime. However, if not properly cared for, hardwood flooring can become worn out and damaged quickly, its initial color can fade, and it can present with warps, bends, scratches, stains, and even cracks.
How many times have you, as a hardwood flooring professional, heard clients complaining that their hardwood floors did not rise to their expectations in terms of durability? And how many times did improper care lead to this result? Whether it’s a DIY project that a client takes on, or if they hire someone who lacks the necessary expertise working with hardwood floors, failure to properly care for wood flooring can result in both short-term and long-term damage.
So, what kind of advice should you offer to your clients, to help them extend the lifespan of their hardwood floors, and keep them in top shape at all times? These are some of the most important things to keep in mind when caring for hardwood flooring.
1. Vacuum the floors properly
Keeping hardwood floors clean and tidy is a no-brainer, but you have to be careful not to cause damage to the floors while trying to clean them. Vacuuming is important to keeping hardwood clear and in great condition, but it has to be done properly, otherwise you can end up scratching the planks, and you certainly don’t want that. Use the right attachment when using a vacuum on hardwood floors, and use a high-quality machine. Using the carpet setup for the vacuum can be too aggressive on hardwood floors, so try to avoid it. Also, you don’t want to vacuum too often, and you want to use a soft broom to sweep the dust first so that it doesn’t end up scratching the floors.
2. Never use a wet mop
When it comes to hardwood flooring, moisture is your worst enemy. High humidity and moisture levels can significantly damage hardwood floors, leading to warping, denting, and even rotting in the long run. That’s why choosing the right type of wood for the space is essential, as is using a subfloor that protects the wooden planks from moisture, and acclimating the wood before installation. But a lot of clients make the following mistake: cleaning hardwood floors with a wet mop. This can cause serious damage to the floors, so instead, use a damp cloth to gently clean any areas that need it, and make sure to ventilate the room afterwards to let the floors dry completely.
3. Clean up spills and stains
To keep hardwood floors in mint condition for many years, it’s important to be careful and clean up any spills, stains, or scratches as soon as they happen. If you spill some coffee or even water on hardwood floors, clean it up immediately with a damp cloth or special rag and let it dry. Otherwise, it could leave a stain that will be very difficult to remove later on. Spot clean as needed by using a damp cloth and cleaning products that cater specifically to hardwood – otherwise you might just make it worse.
4. Protect the floors from damage
If the hardwood floors are installed in a high-traffic area, such as a living room or an office, it can be harder to keep them perfectly clean at all times. Advise your clients with pets to trim their nails regularly to avoid scratches, and set up fluffy rugs or carpets in children’s playrooms. It’s also a good idea to leave shoes at the door, especially high heels, to avoid scratching the hardwood. Finally, make sure to use furniture protectors to prevent damage caused by moving furniture around on hardwood flooring.
5. Use carpets and rugs strategically
The best way to protect hardwood floors from scratches, spills, or any kind of damage is to use carpets and rugs. It might seem counterintuitive, because clients want to show off their beautiful hardwood floors, but rugs and carpets can be used strategically and placed in high-traffic areas or under heavy furniture. Sunlight can also lead to yellowing of the hardwood over time, so it’s a good idea to also install shades or curtains in certain rooms, to protect hardwood floors and keep them looking great for many years to come.
6. Use the right cleaning and care products
We can’t stress this enough, but using the proper cleaning and care products is critical to keeping hardwood floors in great shape. It’s important to advise your clients to never use household items like ammonia, vinegar, pine oil, or bleach on hardwood floors. This can lead to serious damage and can destroy the protective finish of the hardwood. One should also never use poly or wax products on hardwood floors. Instead, advise clients to only use high-quality cleaning and maintenance products that are specifically designed for hardwood floors.
7. Sand and recoat the floors on a regular basis
Even with proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can start to show signs of damage over the years, so it’s important to regularly spruce them up and get them back in top shape. Every five years, you should gently sand the hardwood floors and recoat them with a high-quality finish. But we don’t advise anyone to do this on their own, unless they have experience and are a trained professional. Oversanding can do more damage than good, and choosing the right finishing product can significantly impact the durability of the hardwood.
8. Enlist professional help
Last but not least, clients should know that they should never try to install, fix, or replace hardwood flooring on their own, unless they have the required experience and know-how. Even then, enlisting the help of a professional is the safest bet, as they have the skills and tools to get the job done right. Installing or replacing hardwood flooring is a complex process that can make or break the durability and lifespan of the floors, so it’s something that should always be done by a professional. Let clients know that they can reach you whenever they’re in doubt about their hardwood floors; they don’t have to try to fix things on their own, as that can do more harm than good in the long run.