A hardwood floor is an investment and one that you want to look after to ensure that it lasts and maintains its splendour for many years to come. In order to ensure that you prolong the life and appearance of your pre-finished hardwood floor it is important to be well informed when it comes to cleaning it. Many people believe that the fancy, expensive cleaners that they are sold are the solution and usually that the more expensive they are the better they are. In fact some cleaners should be avoided at all costs and great care taken when you are cleaning. Before you decide on a cleaning method for your hardwood floor it is important to ensure what type of floor you have as for different finishes different methods should be observed.
Firstly, what is a pre-finished floor?
If you were to just the lay the bare wood without any treatment the wood would scratch, dent and become grey fairly quickly with the amount of exposure that a floor sees. In order to offer the best protection, prefinished floors are finished in the factory rather than in situ – the process used in the factory is to “bake” the finish on meaning that the surface is much more hardwearing and durable than if it is treated once laid. There is a specific method that should be used when cleaning a pre-finished hardwood floor to ensure that you don’t cause any damage and that you get a good finish.
Keep exposure to outside elements to a minimum
Hard wood doesn’t like water therefore you want to avoid your floor soaking up moisture or moisture getting down between the cracks. Where you have entrance points into a property from outside it is advisable to put down mats – walking in water, mud and grit from outside will not be good for your hardwood floor whether it is pre-finished or not. Dirt that falls between the cracks and scratches the edges are one of the biggest dangers to your floor – even worse if the dirt happens to be wet as the combination of the two as this will lead to further damage. Any moisture that gets in between the cracks will make the edges of the board curl up.
Day to day maintenance
When cleaning day to day you can use a soft broom or a light vacuum cleaner to get rid of any loose debris or dust. For many people, a quick sweep or vacuum every day or every day will keep a room that doesn’t see much footfall looking good. In areas where the floor is walked on regularly you may find that you need to do more than a quick sweep.
Cleaning up dirt and spillages
If you spill something on a hardwood floor you need to clean it up immediately. Liquid is the last thing you want running into the cracks between the boards. Exposure to moisture will cause the boards to swell and the edges to curl. If the water gets right underneath and is left there you may get the appearance of mildew. At the first sign of a spillage grab a dry cloth and mop it up. If you want to get out a dirty mark the best thing to do is grab a damp cloth, clean up the dirt and then buff with a dry cloth. In fact once a week, or once a fortnight you can clean the whole floor with a damp cloth and then ensure you buff it off after with a dry cloth. If your cloth is more wet than damp you risk water getting into the floor.
Should you use specific floor cleaners?
Be very careful when you choose a floor cleaner. If you feel you need more than a clean and buff and want to use a professional floor cleaner you have choices. The best solution is a water based floor cleaner – only use this on a hardwood floor that has been finished with more than 3 layers of treatment. Any less and you risk damaging the floor. Oil cleaners leave a residue over time and will make the floor look dirty and grimy so if you are going to use a wax or oil cleaner make sure you do your research or ask a professional first.
What if the floor gets scratched?
If your hardwood floor gets scratched then there is treatment you can use to fill in the scratches but we always recommend calling the professionals who have the experience and knowledge to ensure that your floor is given the best attention.
Wikihow, Retrieved Sept 2016, How to clean hardwood floors.
The Wood Database, Retrieved Sept 2016, Wood and Moisture