Wood floors, properly finished, are the easiest of all floor surfaces to keep clean and new looking unlike carpeted or resilient floors that show wear regardless of care. Wood floors are excellent for people with allergies as they do not harbor dirt, animal dander, and dust mites the way carpeting does.
Wood flooring should be vacuumed, swept, or dust mopped regularly to keep dirt and grit off the floor. Spills should be wiped up immediately. Floors with Swedish or waterbased finishes should be damp mopped as needed with either Woodwise or Glitsa clean floor cleaner.
Wood and water do not mix. No matter what finish your wood floor has, NOFMA recommends, never pouring water on the floor. While a damp mop may be used on surface finishes in good condition, excessive amounts of water seep between the boards and into small scratches causing deterioration of finishes. A damp mop should only be damp to the touch. It should be thoroughly wrung and not dripping. Wax-coated finishes should NEVER be cleaned or maintained with water, not even a damp mop. Water can cause a wax finish to be dull or leave water spots.
Preventative maintenance is a term more common to industrial floor care than to residential or office floor care, but its importance cannot be over-emphasized. Good preventative maintenance lengthens the intervals between the major renovation operations such as re-coating, re-waxing and refinishing. Here are some basic rules that apply to all types of floor finishes.
- Keep grit off the floor. Use dirt-trapping, walk-off mats at all exterior doors to help prevent dirt, grit and sand from getting inside the building. Throw- rugs or small sections of carpet just inside the entrances are also recommended. Dirt and grit are any flooring's worst enemy, and that includes carpets and vinyls as well as hardwoods. Keep door mats clean.
- In kitchens, use area rugs at high spill locations and at work stations-stove, sink, refrigerator. Cotton is generally the best fabric since it is easily washed. Mats with a smooth backing, i.e. rubber or vinyl, may trap water beneath.
- Finishes and certain chemicals in wood oxidize and are affected by ultra violet light sources. This may cause the wood and finish to change color and develop a patina or aged appearance. To avoid uneven appearance, move area rugs occasionally and drape or shade large windows.
- Put fabric glides on the legs of your furniture; they allow furniture to be moved easily without scuffing the floor. Clean the glides regularly. Grit can become embedded in glides; clean the glides over to prevent scratching. Some furniture may require barrel type roller casters as ball type casters may cause damage. Grey, non-marking rubber casters are the best. Avoid casters made of hard materials like metals or hard plastics.
- Vacuum regularly, as often as you vacuum carpets: a brush attachment works beautifully. Sweep or use a dust mop daily or as needed, but do not use a household dust treatment as this may cause your floor to become slick, dull the finish, or interfere with re-coating.
- Wipe up food and other spills promptly with a dry cloth or paper towel. Use a slightly moistened cloth for sticky spills if necessary. Then wipe the floor dry with another cloth or paper towel.
- Keep heels on shoes in good repair, especially high heels. Heels that have their protective cap missing or worn away exposing the steel support rod will dent any floor surface, even concrete.
- By observing these simple suggestions you'll go a long way toward keeping your hardwood floors beautiful and making their care easier.
As your floor begins to dull or show wear, you may have another coat of finish applied without having to re-sand your floor. This will allow you to protect your floor and prolong the life of the finish. Generally floors need to be re-coated every 3 – 5 years depending on the amount of care the floor is given. For deep scratches, more severe wear, or to change the color of your floor, a complete sanding is required.