Hardwood Floor Care On The Front Lines
Most people follow clothing cleaning recommendations. You wouldn’t throw a suit that’s dry clean only in the washing machine. That suit costs much less than a new hardwood floor, right? So why not follow the proper maintenance procedures you received for cleaning your new hardwood floors; you know, the ones that were professionally installed and/or sanded and finished?
As we head once again into the back-to-school routine, here are some useful maintenance tips from your wood flooring experts. I’ve included a few of our favorite customer dilemmas, from kids’ art and science projects gone awry to magical solutions that create more problems than they clean up.
Tip #1: Always hire a professional!
“Sharpie VS. Magic Eraser: Neither Wins On Wood”
This battle between two powerful products was one that the homeowner ultimately lost. We’ve got four kids of our own and have heard it so often, it’s become a verb: Sharpied. I know just how permanent permanent markers can be. Tiny Rocco hands have left their mark in our home’s history as well. Let me assure you, wincing reader: it is possible to remove permanent marker!
Tip: Do not rely on the advice of housekeepers.
While housekeepers may be good at cleaning, they are not chemists and they don’t understand the nature of finished wood floors. And whatever you do, don’t use cleaners that use the word “magic;” because those cleaners damage the finish and the floor ends up looking not-so-magical.
“I Want To Get Wood Floors. I’m Just Waiting Until My Dog Dies.”
Pet claw marks can cause indentations in the finish and sometimes, depending on size and exuberance, scratch through the finish to raw wood. The before image shows indentations and scratches from large dogs that the homeowner then tried to cover up with polish. The after image, after she called us to refinish the floor looks much better. She has committed to NEVER buying and applying polish or oil soaps without the help of a professional
While small indentations can sometimes be coated again with finish, scratches to raw wood must be sanded out. Walk off mat, rugs and furniture, floor protectors, and appropriate hardwood floor cleaners can sometimes reduce the damage in high traffic areas.
Tip: If scratches are contained to a small area, try using a wood pen or very fine steel wool, from a craft store, in an inconspicuous spot to see if you can blend the surface finish or match the stain for a temporary solution.
There are ways to prevent some of the potential damage like claw covers or ultramatte sheens of finish or finishes that offer different maintenance approaches, and these alternatives are best explored with a professional.
Tip: Pets aren’t the only dangers to your floor’s finish. Even felt floor protector pads can catch small rocks and debris that can scratch finish. Try to regularly vacuum those felt pads on the bottoms of your chairs and other furnishings!
Pets also leave their mark with ammonia stains from their urine penetrating and discoloring wood floors and most of those stains cannot be removed with sanding because they’ve occurred over a period of time. If you’re trying to restore a floor’s glory after your four-legged friend tarnished it, our expert recommendation is to hire Artistic Floors by Design to sand and then stain the floor a dark color. The darker the color, the less noticeable the stain. If you want to keep a lighter floor, replace boards.
Tip: Kilz helps remove all smells so when you do remove your carpet down to the subfloor, apply at least three coats of Kilz, allowing each to dry between coats, before any wood flooring is installed, especially if your pet is still alive and well.
“Yes, Your Finish Is Durable But We Still Don’t Recommend Rollerblading Inside Your Home.”
Again, these are words I actually have uttered. We have a lovely client in Heritage Hills with six kids. Her floor, by some miracle, still looks amazing even after having been rollerbladed on. It’s hickory, which is super hard and dense, but every time I’ve showed a prospective client how nice the floor still looks, she tells them her kids rollerblade across it. It’s my duty to protest this possibility for the potential havoc it could wreak, but I smile a little on the inside because her floors still look fabulous.
The reason the floors are still in impeccable shape, routine cleaning which includes: clean hardwood floors with a vacuum (beater bar OFF), damp mop with damp cloth or dust mopping with dry Swiffer, wet mop with approved cleaner and microfiber mop (NEVER use vinegar and water its acidic).
Tip: If you are considering species of wood, ask an expert about the wood’s hardness, find out about two-component, commercial grade finishes, and use a certified professional because a finish is only as good as the process used for application.
“How Did My Wood Floors Turn Gray?”
Simple. Wood is porous and once you wear all of the existing finish off of the floor, dirt gets embedded in the grain.
It can be sanded out and prevented with regular maintenance coats, which extend the life of your floor and are highly recommended by Artistic Floors by Design if your floor can no longer be sanded, if your floor has texture (hand scraped, wire brushed, or reclaimed with saw/mill marks), and to maintain a consistent sheen of finish across the floor.
Tip: Maintenance coats are much more cost effective (less money and time) than sanding a floor.
You get the oil changed in your car and your fancy clothes dry cleaned. Consider the importance of regularly caring for and maintaining your floor to prolong its life. Feel free to reach out to our nationally certified sales professional for help.