5 common mistakes homeowners make that inadvertently harm their wood flooring
Hardwood flooring can last a lifetime, but they also do require some maintenance to help keep them clean and in good shape. Over time, hardwood floors can scratch and wear down. The good news is that they can be sanded and refinished so they look good as new.
The ironic thing is that many homeowners are inadvertently doing things that make their floors worse…so that they need to refinish the floors sooner. And, they have no idea that by stopping these activities, their floors will cleaner, look better and last longer.
So, I’ve gathered 5 tips to help make your floors last longer. These are 7 things you need to STOP doing.
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5 Things you need to STOP doing so that your hardwood floors last longer
1. Don’t use wax on your floors or cleaning products that promise to restore the sheen in your floors
I know, you see these “miracle” products all the time – the ones that tell you that they will restore your floor, add shine, give your floors a facelift or add life to you floors, or add shine. Do NOT fall for these products!
You see the way these products add a sheen to your floors is to add a thin layer of wax. They are made with waxes and oils. And, yes, these will make your floor look nicer. HOWEVER, most people don’t realize that these products actually damage your floors. They degrade and wear down the polyurethane faster…so…you need to refinish your floors sooner.
When you use these products, you will need to keep using them – repeatedly. And, the more you use them, the faster your floors will wear down. Furthermore, once you’ve used any of these products just once, you will not be able to screen and recoat your floors.
A screen and recoat (sometimes called buffing) is when you do a “light sanding” and add an additional coat of polyurethane. It’s a great wood floor maintenance strategy and you can read more about it here: What is a screen and recoat for wood floors?). But, if you’ve ever used wax on your floor, even a so called cleaning product that has wax residue in it, you will not be able to buff your floors because the polyurethane will not adhere properly.
So, what should you use to clean your floor?
Just use a regular hardwood flooring cleaner. Nothing fancy, just a cleaning product designed for wood floors. My favorite hardwood flooring cleaner is Bona.
You will find that Bona is the top recommended product by hardwood flooring manufacturers, professional flooring stores and decorators. You can buy it easily on Amazon (I’ve found it’s less expensive on Amazon vs the local Big Box stores). Bona is great cleaning product and it’s environmentally friendly. It’s safe for pets and kids.
2. Don’t use a carpet vacuum on your wood floors…use a vacuum designed for hardwood
Most people don’t realize that you need a different vacuum on hardwood floors than you do for carpet. Most vacuums designed for carpet will actually damage your hardwood flooring (you can read more here: What is the best vacuum for hardwood floors?).
My top recommendation for a hardwood floor is this Bissell vacuum. It’s specifically designed for hardwood and it’s also very reasonably priced (and no you do not need to spend an arm and a leg on your vacuum).
3. Don’t wear your shoes in the house
Yes, shoes can do a lot of damage to your floor (even more damage than pets). The biggest issue with shoes is that little pebbles and dirt can in them and these scratch your floors. And, of course when it’s raining or snowing, the water (and sometimes salt) can do even more damage.
It is unbelievable to see how much longer hardwood floors last in homes where people take their shoes off. Often, this may add an extra 3+ years before the floors need to be refinished. And, of course there’s another benefit – your floors and home are cleaner. This may be especially important to you if you have young kids.
Instead of wearing shoes, consider nice soft and comfy slippers. You may even want to consider buying some extra pairs for your guests. Of course, socks work too, but they can be a bit more slippery. Slippers seem to add a bit of traction in addition to support and warmth for 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.
Encourage your family (and guests) to take off their shoes as soon as they enter the house, and make it easy for them. It’s ideal if you have a place for shoes for easy storage and a visual cue for guests. And, make sure there is a comfortable area for all to remove their shoes and boots.
Also, if you need an attractive, but affordable sitting/storage bench, consider this one from Amazon.
4. Don’t use rolling chairs on hardwood floors
5. Don’t forget to add felt pads underneath chairs
Chairs can also damage the floors, especially those around the main kitchen table, kitchen island and in family rooms, as those are used more often. So get some felt pads…and get some extras (as they can fall off) and check them frequently. You can also add them to couches and other items, but it’s the chairs that cause the most damage as they are moved the most often.
Bonus Tip 1: Add entry mats and area rugs at door ways
For the front and back doors, be sure to have an area rug inside and an entry mat outside. This will help reduce water (and snow/salt) getting on your hardwood floors. Encourage your kids to wipe your feet. And, of course these items will help reduce water and dirt from your pets’ paws.
Bonus Tip 2: Use an anti-fatigue mat by kitchen sink
If you have hardwood in your kitchen, I’d strongly recommend that you get an anti-fatigue mat. This will prevent water from getting on the floors and it importantly, it will make things easier on your feet and back so you’re less tired. You may also want to consider having one by the stove, too.
Bonus tip 3: Always keep your home at normal temperature/humidity levels all year round, even when you are away.
If you don’t, you may have issues with the floors swelling, buckling or contracting. (You may have other issues in the home as well if it’s too hot, too cold or too moist e.g. mold, mildew, cracks in walls, frozen pipes, etc.)
So, I hope these simple tips will help you enjoy and preserve your hardwood floors longer.
Related hardwood flooring articles:
- How to prevent and reduce scratches in hardwood floors
- What is a screen and recoat and how can it help you with your hardwood?
- Recommended cleaning products and accessories for your floors
- 2018 hardwood flooring trends
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
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