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How to Care for Natural Wood Floors

March 11th, 2015

modern living room with wood floorHow to Care for Natural Wood Floors

As we mentioned in our prior post on wood flooring vs. laminate, natural wood is durable, beautiful, and can last a lifetime with regular care.

If you just had the flooring put in, you should have received care instructions from the manufacturer.  Those should be followed.

If you purchased a home with existing wood flooring, you may want to consider hiring an expert to tell you the type of wood, type of finish, and any recommendations for care.

The finish of the wood flooring is just as important to know because you would never use paste wax on a polyurethane finish, but you would an unfinished hardwood floor.  If you do have a wax finish floor, you will want to get it buffed periodically to restore the shine.  And you will have to strip the wax and reapply it periodically.

From Pioneer Thinking:

The same care and maintenance techniques are used for all finishes in good condition, but when it comes to removing stains or restoring the finish, methods differ. If you don’t know what kind of finish your floor has, ask your contractor or Realtor, or try these simple tests:

Surface Finishes: (pre-finished floors, polyurethane, water-based urethane and catalyzed)
Nearly all floors installed today have surface finishes, mostly polyurethane. They are often glossy and may look like a layer of clear plastic on top of the wood. A small amount of paint remover in an inconspicuous area of the floor will cause the surface finish to bubble (unless it is a water-based urethane, in which case there will be no reaction). Surface finishes shield floors from harm by forming a protective layer on top of the wood.

Penetrating Seals: (acrylics, oils and waxes)
Oils and waxes usually have a satin or matte finish. If you can feel the wood grain when you run your hand across the surface, it’s most likely a penetrating seal. Paint remover will have no effect on a penetrating seal, but wax stripper or ammonia will soften and whiten the surface. Oils and waxes penetrate the surface of the floor protecting the wood from within.

If you get a stain in a wax finish floor, you’ll want to use fine steel wool to remove the stain.  Work from the outside in.  You will then need to reapply wax and buff the finish.  Also, be aware that the sun shining on the wood floor may discolor it.  If you’re concerned, look into window treatments like sheers that will cut down on the UV rays.

Sweep your floors with a soft broom regularly, and keep the dirt, dust, grit and sand off.  If any gets tracked in, sweep it up right away before it can scratch or dull the surface of the wood flooring.

Use rugs in high traffic areas such as hallways and entrances to catch the dirt, grit, and sand. Put pads on the bottoms of furniture like couches, tables, and chairs.  When you move furniture, always lift up and then move rather then pushing across the floor.  This prevents deep scratches.

Keep fluids off of the floor. If something spills, blot it up right away with a dry towel.

There are some who recommend not using oil soap on wood flooring because it builds up and dulls the surface of the floor, and can make refinishing difficult. They recommend using a pH cleaner specifically formulated for wood floors.

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