Hardwood floors used to be considered a luxury item, only affordable for the select few. Nowadays it has become a standard flooring option, adding warmth, sophistication and individuality to your home. Let’s start with the fact that hardwood flooring is classic. Its timeless beauty makes it a popular choice for nearly any home decor. It comes in a variety of colors, patterns and textures from smooth mirror finishes to a rustic barn wood hand carved look. Each finish and color, display a unique customized look, that expresses your individual tastes and styles. Planks of hardwood may differ in size of length, up to seven or eight feet long or widths from 3 inches to nine or more. The quality, the surface wear layer, the type of surface protection or construction type, “Engineered versus Solid” will certainly affect both the life of this flooring and the price you pay. Hardwood flooring can fit almost any budget. That is why it is best to purchase thru a reputable, knowledgeable dealer.
However, hardwood requires constant maintenance. Here are five elements to concentrate on, and tips to help you enjoy your beautiful hardwood floors for years to come.
Since wood is a porous material that’s vulnerable to liquids, immediately wipe up any spills to prevent stains. It is not recommended to install hardwood floors in bathrooms as the steam and constant puddles from showers will ruin them. Excess water will harm your hardwood flooring. Never pour cleaner or other liquids directly onto the floor surface. Rather, spray the product on a mop or a towel. We highly recommend Bona as the hardwood floor cleaning product of choice. You can even purchase it direct from us at your next cleaning. Bona has a “GREENGUARD GOLD certification” which confirms it’s safe for use in your home and around your family. Simply damp the mop slightly (don’t soak it!) and go with the grain of the wood when washing, never against. Also, you want to use mats near sink, dishwasher and other water-intensive areas to prevent wood deterioration.
Although dirt seems innocuous enough, it can wreak havoc on your hardwood floors! Sweep or vacuum regularly to get rid of dirt and dust particle buildup that can scratch the wood. In fact, regular vacuuming or sweeping with a soft-bristled broom is often enough to get your floors clean. No need to make a habit of using a “heavy duty” cleaning product. Again, damp mopping may be your best method of daily maintenance.
If hardwood floors can be scratched by dirt particles, imagine what a table leg or even your pet’s nails can do! We recommend that before purchasing your hardwood, make sure to ask about its Janka Hardness Scale rating. Certain species of hardwood are less scratch resistant than others. You need this information in order to make an informed decision about the species of wood you are selecting and its durability. Also ask about the manufactures wear layer to know how thick it is and how often you can refinish it. Today most are finished with some form of acrylic finish, aluminum oxide or oil. Terms like ceramic bead are used to highlight wearability. Always use felt pads under any furniture, especially the pieces that are often moved, like chairs. Do not place or use rolling chairs on hardwood. When moving heavier furniture, place a mat under an object and slide it over the floor. To that end, don’t forget to trim your pet’s nails and leave those stilettos at the door.
Since hardwood flooring is a natural material, it’s also vulnerable to UV rays and excessive heat. Most wood surfaces fade over time, this is a normal process, but in hardwood flooring it can cause undesirable color contrasts. Protect your floors from direct sunlight by using window coverings, window tinting, or place rugs over the areas that are over-exposed. Another option is to rotate the furniture and carpets periodically to prevent uneven wood discoloration.
No matter how well you take care of your hardwood floors, there will be wear-and-tear, especially in the so-called high-traffic areas – entrances and exits, in front of vanities, kitchen sinks, stoves, couches, dining tables etc. To minimize the damage, place rugs and floor mats in the areas that see the most foot traffic. They will collect abrasive substances and protect your floors from premature aging. Pay special attention to your front entrance – that’s where most of the dirt and moisture comes from. The happiest owners of hardwood flooring understand that every scratch adds to the beauty of their flooring. Again a long doormat leading up to the door is a great way to invite people to wipe their shoes before coming in without seeming rude or unwelcoming.
If hardwood floors are not an option for you, consider the many alternative materials out there instead. Technology in flooring has come a long way, and to be perfectly frank, often we don’t know if it is “ real wood” or “faux”! Today you can choose a wood look-alike or faux wood floors from laminates, luxury vinyl planks and even real looking porcelain faux wood. All come in various widths and lengths. These faux woods are more scratch resistant while looking exceptionally realistic.