10 Tips To Make Dark Hardwood Flooring More Practical and easier to maintain
Dark hardwood floors are all the rage these days. They are modern, bold and dramatic. But, yes, dark hardwood floors show dirt and scratches more, so here are some tips to help you maintain your beautiful dark hardwood.
Also, while dark hardwood floors may be a bit more challenging to maintain, they also camouflage a whole lot of other issues including pet stains and gaps between boards. And, they also seem to show less damage and yellowing from the sun.
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10 tips to make dark hardwood flooring easier to clean and maintain
1. Use the right type and brand of polyurethane
It’s so important to use a high grade polyurethane. This will ultimately determine how your floors look and how long they last. The labor for sanding and refinishing will be the same, but make sure you the poly is durable, even if that means spending a bit more. You can read more about the best brands of polyurethane in this article. For oil based polyurethane, I’d recommend Duraseal and for water borne poly, I’d recommend Bona Traffic HD. You can read more about oil vs water borne polyurethane here.
2. Choose a low sheen
The shinier the floor, the more light reflects and the more everything will show – dirt, scratches, dents. Besides, satin finish is much more in style. Semi gloss is dated and it will be much harder to maintain (i.e. you will be cleaning more often and the floors will lose their luster sooner). So go with a satin (or even a matte) finish both for style and practicality.
Related article: Which type of sheen is most popular for hardwood floors?
3. Consider going a shade lighter on your floors
Dust is light, so the darker you go, the more the dust shows. Conversely, when you go lighter, it shows less. So, you may want to consider going a shade or two lighter.
4. Take your shoes off…
Yes, shoes wear down floors quickly, so the #1 tip I can give you is to take your shoes off. Shoes do more damage than pets believe it or not. That’s because dirt and small pebbles get caught in them. I’d actually recommend wearing socks or slippers of some sort. When you go barefoot, it’s often less comfortable, but also, you can leave foot prints on the floor (due to the oils in your feet).
I have to say that my favorite purchase over the last 3 years have been my black and gray Uggs slippers. They are so comfortable and keep my feet warm and cozy in the winter. But any Uggs slippers (or other slippers will do). They are great for hardwood floors.
For you guests, you may want to encourage them to take off their shoes as well. Yes, I know this one is easier said than done. But, remember if you have people remove their shoes on a regular basis, your floors will last much longer (perhaps an extra 2-3+ years?). So, here are some tips:
- First, make it easy for your guests to remove their shoes. Make sure you have a place for people to sit in the entryway so that they can comfortably remove their shoes. Often a comfortable and inviting bench or ottoman will do the trick.
- Second, make sure there’s a place for your guests to place their shoes. This could be a piece of furniture, or a plastic tray. (Hint: if you already have shoes there, it will make it more obvious for your guests to remove their shoes).
- Third, if you can, provide a comfortable foot solutions for your guests such as slippers.
5. Use Felt pads
Make sure that you have felt pads underneath all pieces of furniture, especially chairs. These tend to be moved back and forth the most, especially the chairs around the main table you use for dining.
Felt pads fall off…so make sure you check your chairs often and have extras.
6. Use the right vacuum – one designed specifically for hardwood floors
Most people don’t realize that you need a DIFFERENT vacuum for hardwood floors than you use for you carpet. Otherwise, you can scratch up your floors. You can read more about it here: What’s the best vacuum for hardwood floors?
To cut to the chase, I’d recommend this Bissell vacuum specifically made for hardwood floors. And, it’s very reasonably priced.
7. Toss the broom and buy a quality microfiber mop
First, you should never be using a broom on hardwood flooring. Brooms can easily scratch your floors. Instead, you should be using a microfiber mop or swiffer. These are soft, so they won’t damage your floors, and they are super effective at picking up dust (vs a broom sometimes disburses the dust).
If you don’t have one of these microfiber “mops” already, it’s most efficient to start with a starter kit which has the microfiber mop, the cleaning pad and hardwood cleaner all in one. Please note that name “mop” here is a bit misleading. It’s not like a regular mop (and you should avoid regular mops as they can ruin your hardwood floors as most people use too much water with them.
8. Use a good quality hardwood cleaner…and avoid cleaners with wax
I’d recommend Bona hardwood cleaner. It is the best. It’s the one decorators and hardwood flooring manufacturers recommend. It’s also a green product and safe for kids and pets.
While you can buy Bona in many big box stores, I’ve found the price to be lower on Amazon, and it’s certainly more convenient.
Avoid all products with waxes or oils…or ones that tell you they will add a sheen to their floor. These will temporarily make your floors look better, but they will degrade the polyurethane so that you need to sand and refinish the floors sooner.
9. Buy area rugs
Area rugs will add style and flair to your room. They will be soft on your and protect your hardwood floors. They are also great for pets as they are softer than hardwood floors. If you’re looking for some stylish and affordable area rugs you can buy online, check out these articles (most can be ordered on Amazon).
- Best gray area rugs for under $200
- Where to buy affordable and stylish navy area rugs (and size and shape guide)
- 29 Beautiful and affordable purple area rugs
10. Avoid rolling chairs
Oh yes, these can be deadly for hardwood floors. The rolling (with your weight on top of the chair) is isn’t good. And, often small pieces of dirt get caught in the wheels and they can really get in and grind your finish off.
Bonus tip if you have dogs:
If you’ve recently had your floors refinished (or if you plan to), you should understand that it usually takes around 30 days for the floors to fully cure. During that time, the floors are more vulnerable. The first 2 weeks are critical, and if you have a dog, you should try to keep your dog off the floors for 2 weeks…or else try doggie socks.
Conclusion – How to easily clean and maintain dark hardwood
So those are my top 10 tips to clean and maintain dark hardwood floors. If you love dark hardwood flooring, I’d recommend you go for it and use these tips so that they are easier to take care.
- Dark vs light hardwood flooring – what are the pros and cons?
- What are the best brands of polyurethane?
- What stain colors are most popular?
- How to prevent scratches in your hardwood floors
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Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
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How to keep dark hardwood floors clean | 10 practical maintenance tips