Make Your Wood Floors Last Longer
The beauty and richness that wood floors bring to the interior space is without question. That natural look and feel, coupled with the warmth and timeless charm, enhance the décor of the premises. After all, wood floors never really go out of style, and the wide range of wood species available as well as finishing products, allow you to have the setup that meets your own individual décor preferences. However, like other natural resources, wood also has its own fair share of enemies. When left unchecked, they can quickly cause the deterioration of the installation – which is not how you want things to go, especially after spending so much money on getting your ideal hardwood floor. The floor cleaning and maintenance measures carried out will determine how long your installation lasts. The first step in protecting your wood floors is understanding what they are up against.
Threats To Wood Floors
- Humidity changes
Wood is affected by the moisture gradient with its surrounding. When humidity is high, the wood tissue absorbs moisture, causing the structure to expand. When humidity is low, moisture evaporates from the wood, causing it to contract. These gradual shifts are usually minimal, but extreme swings can result in cupping or crowning. Note that these changes are affected by how the wood itself was installed – which is why there is a huge emphasis on ensuring that the floorboards have acclimated well to that end-use environment before they are nailed into place. Controlling humidity levels in the indoor space, including working with a dehumidifier or humidifier as the situation calls for it, will help in containing the fluctuations.
This is tied to the above moisture problem, where the hygroscopic wood absorbs the excess moisture. This can lead to warping, cracking or buckling, depending on the level of spills involved – with extreme ones like flooding incidents causing extreme structural damage to the wood. You can’t prevent 100% of spills from occurring. There will occasionally be an accident or two. Focus here shifts to clearing it up as soon as it is noticed. Dealing with the excess moisture before it damages the wood will go a long way in preserving its structural integrity.
- Dirt and grime
Just because dirt is not a threat to trees out in the wild does not mean that it is harmless to those floors in the indoor space. The threat is not exactly from the dirt, but rather from the action of the particles being grinded against the floor under foot traffic or furniture legs. This causes the surface to become dull – as you can easily see with the traffic lanes that develop on the frequently walked on areas. This threat is dealt with through the regular floor cleaning. Additional measures like getting people to take off their shoes before walking into the house can go a long way in protecting the installation.
Those rays bathing the interior space can cause the wood to get bleached out or darken, depending on the rection of the particular wood species to the solar radiation, and the kind of finish coats that have been applied. This is why you see water-based lacquers gaining more usage compared to the oil based alternatives, since the latter tend to form a yellow tint over time. Drawing the curtains during those particularly hot times of the day and strategically placing rugs in the indoor space can help in minimising the effect the sun has on your wood floor.
– Sweep the floor daily. Removing the dust and loose debris that accumulates on the surface of the wood floor all day will keep them from getting ground down and abrading the surface. That way, the finish coats that have been applied will also be able to retain their aesthetic appeal for longer. Daily sweeping should be mandatory for the high traffic areas, as well as around cabinets and in the kitchen.
– Mop the floor weekly. The busier the home, the higher the frequency of the mopping that is required. You should use a microfibre mop for the floor cleaning, and remember to wring out the solutions that the mop is just slightly damp. This is to avoid water damage. Floor cleaning tools like the spray mop have been designed to enable you to control the amount of cleaning fluids that are used during the process. Here, you simply mist out a little of the clear on the go, which is key in avoiding cases of drenching the floor in excessive liquid.
– Stick to designated wood floor cleaners. With the sensitivity of the wood tissue to the pH of the floor cleaning product used, you want to work with products that will enable you to get rid of the dirt and grime, without putting the structural integrity of the installation at risk. Conventional soaps will leave behind residue on the surface that becomes a dirt magnet, while harsh cleaners like vinegar or ammonia-based solutions will attack the finish coats and ruin the beauty of the floor.
– Get mats for the high traffic areas, including the entrance into the house, lounge areas, and under the dinner table. Here the role of the mats here is to trap the bulk of the soiling that is at the bottom of people’s shoes, locking it within the fibres. Definitely, you should ensure that the mats are regularly given a thorough wash. Also get pads to put under pet drinking and feeding bowls to protect the floor underneath.
– Invest in routine professional floor cleaning services. The frequency here would depend on how fast soiling builds up on the floor, and cases where you may be dealing with particularly trouble stains such as urine stains that pets leave behind on the floor, or beverage stains that stayed for too long such that they seem to have bonded with the surface itself. A professional floor cleaning company has the tools and skilled personnel needed to tackle the tough dirt and stain problems, revitalising your floor and restoring its charm and appeal. Moreover, these companies also typically offer cleaning services for the rest of the household, from carpet care, upholstery cleaning, and even working on the windows, patio and decks. Some also include appliance cleaning, such as for the case of ovens. Getting a combination of services from the same company will help you develop a top-to-bottom clean of your household, enhancing the ambience and protecting the health of your loved ones.