What To Avoid Using On Wood Floors

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What To Avoid Using On Wood Floors

What To Avoid Using On Wood Floors

That hardwood flooring in your home or commercial space is a significant investment. These kinds of floors are quite pricey – but given the value they bring to the indoor space, they are worth every penny. From the strength of the structure that enables it to withstand high lives of traffic, withstanding the loads that it comes under on a daily basis, that natural charm that it adds to the ambience – which cannot be replicated with other types of flooring, all through to the warmth underfoot and ease of maintenance – it all factors into why these floors are popular. However, despite their durability, there are certain products and processes that can cause extensive damage to the wood when used for the floor cleaning and maintenance. These include:

  • Vinegar

During the floor cleaning, you’re technically working on the protective finish that has been applied on the surface. The acidic nature of the vinegar causes it to break down those lacquer coats that have been applied. Doing this regularly leads to the floor becoming dull over time – taking away that aesthetic effect that you had worked hard to establish by having the floor finished in the first place. 

  • Ammonia-based solutions

Ammonia is one of those “power cleaners” used when dealing with stubborn stains around the household. However, it should not be used for the floor cleaning, even when diluted. For starters, it discolours and deteriorates the finish – which drastically reduces the lifespan of the treatment products that have been applied – meaning that the floor sanding and refinishing will need to be carried out much sooner than anticipated. That’s not all. If it gets to the actual wood underneath, as that protective coat weakens, it ends up dissolving the lignin in the wood.

Extra note: These effects of ammonia on the wood floor are also why it is imperative to deal with any urine stains as soon as possible. These spots that are formed by pets relieving themselves on the floor will lead to the weakening of the finish and structural integrity of the installation itself, due to the high ammonia content in the urine. You should ensure that the floor cleaning products to be used when dealing with the wood stains are safe for the floor. 

  • Wax

Sure, before the 1970s, wax was the typical protection provided for hardwood flooring. However, over time polyurethane or urethane/acrylic topcoats have taken over. They provide the desired protection from wear and tear – and floors that have been treated with these kinds of finishes should never be waxed. These will prevent future bonding that will be required when recoating the finish. What about directly waxing the bare wood? This is also a no, since wax ends up staining or discolouring the natural floor planks. 

So, when can you wax your hardwood floor? The first step is getting a formulation that has been developed for use on wood floors. Vinyl or linoleum waxes are not suitable for wood floors. Such alternative formulations come with potent chemicals that will actually be a threat to the wood floor. Secondly, wax should only be applied on wood floors that have been treated with compatible finishes – so definitely NOT those with polyurethane or other varnish-type treatments. For the distressed or reclaimed wood floors, these should also be properly finished before applying the floor wax – and this should only be if the finished used are compatible with the wax. Getting a professional consult from a local wood flooring installer/refinisher, or the manufacturer of the particular wax you’re interested in will enable you to decide if it’s suitable for your particular floor. 

  • Wood furniture wipes

Not all wood is equal, and this also applies to wood treatment products. The wipes and cleaners that are used around the household surfaces and even furniture are not automatically suitable for suable the floor cleaning. This is especially with regards to how the chemicals will react with the finishes that the particular floor has been treated with. You don’t want a case of your installation being ruined. Stick to floor cleaning products that have been developed for use on hardwood installations – and those that are compatible with the specific finishes that have been applied. 

Dipping a mop in water or cleaning solution, then going ahead to use it while dripping wet on the floor, is not the way to go. Water is one of the leading causes of damage to wood floors, with the structure absorbing the excess amount of moisture, and exposing it to risks of water damage. Here, you should wring out the mop and use it while it is just damp. There are also floor cleaning equipment that have been designed to reduce the amount of liquids required during the floor cleaning process, such as microfibre mops. Here, the stronger pull of the fibres of the unit to the dirt particles enables it to lift even the microscopic material, locking it within the fibre structure. This makes it effective even for dust mopping. You can also go a step further and incorporate spray mops into your floor cleaning arsenal. Here, in addition to having the microfibre mop heads, the spray mops also have a cartridge on the unit that holds the cleaning liquid. You operate it by pressing a trigger on the mop, which causes a little liquid to be misted out onto the surface. This approach keeps you from drenching the floor in cleaning solution, while providing a more economically efficient way of handling the floor care. 

  • Steam cleaning

Excess water is bad for our wood floor – heated water even more so. Here, the damage will be more instantaneous, from warping to cracking of the wood structure. That hot water getting to the wood floor boards will ruin the wood tissue, and force you to incur hefty costs to have the affected boards replaced. Stick to gentle floor cleaning methods, using products that have been developed for wood floors. Approaches like steam cleaning are best left to carpet and upholstery care. 

What To Avoid Using On Wood Floors

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