It starts like this on social media: “What can I use to clean my wood floors?”
Thirty totally random comments later, you’re still not sure if there is any help for your wood floor. I mean, just because you CAN use something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Right?
Oil soap? What even is that? Vinegar and water? How much to how much? Isn’t vinegar acidic?
What cleaning products get rid of dirt and grime on wood floors, especially high traffic areas? Do I need to get down on my hands and knees? Is there a cleaning solution on the market that gets rid of scuff marks? Is a microfiber mop really better than a wet mop? How do I get my floor to dry if I’m using a steam mop? (DO NOT use a steam mop.) Will I find good or bad floor cleaning products at my local Lowe’s or Home Depot? What about Bona hardwood floor cleaner? We’ve even been asked for our recommendations for a good laminate floor cleaner. (Note to self: we don’t touch laminate. Sorry, laminate people. Good luck to you, though.)
No one wants to damage the floor, especially right after it’s been installed and/or refinished. Here are three ways to keep clean hardwood floors.
FIRST, LISTEN TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL WOOD FLOOR CONTRACTOR.
This might surprise you but not all contractors are professionals. By professional, I mean a contractor that is certified through the National Wood Flooring Association. There is no licensing for the hardwood flooring industry in the state of Colorado, but this doesn’t mean that there are no professionals in your area. It just means you will have to do some research (www.woodfloors.org) to find one. A professional does not just do technical work and is never heard from again.
A professional, by Merriam-Webster’s definition, is one that engages in a pursuit or activity professionally, conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession, exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace. Another definition (and one in which we often find ourselves) is participating for livelihood in a field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs (DIY).
We are not the least expensive contractor in the Denver area. But just because you CAN hire the cheapest contractor doesn’t mean you SHOULD. We operate Artistic Floors by Design as professionals and have been recognized as industry experts by the National Wood Flooring Association. When we make recommendations for the cleaning and care of your wood floor, we do so because we want it to look good for years. Your floor is an artifact of our professional reputation. Comparing products matters, but processes matter, too. We follow technical standards for installation and refinishing so that color and finish is more durable and long-lasting. Just because a contractor applies a water based polyurethane, doesn’t mean it’s the longest lasting product on the market. The sanding sequence, finish application process, and addition of hardening components matter for finish adhesion and durability’s sake, too. (Believe it or not, there are super nerdy scientists who get paid to analyze finish adhesion and durability. They’re actually not that nerdy. Some are pretty cool. And the testing is crazy legit.)
If you’re not sure what cleaner your wood floor contractor recommends, contact our nationally certified Wood Floor Sales Advisor. We’ll help you with what NOT to use and also advise you about appropriate cleaners. Believe me, in nearly 30 years working in this industry, 13 of them owning our own wood floor business, we have heard it all, from Magic Erase to Method Dish Soap. (By the way, these two products will destroy your finish.)
SECOND, DON’T JUST LISTEN. DO. FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE PROGRAM.
Just like there is a difference between a contractor and a professional, there is also a difference between cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning removes dirt. Maintenance keeps your floor looking great for years and years. Proper maintenance involves a professional returning to care for your floor and extend the life of the floor. If you are getting an estimate for either installation or refinishing wood floors, ask the contractor what their maintenance program involves. Tip: If a contractor doesn’t have a maintenance program, they are not a professional. Ask them what their warranty covers. Tip: If a contractor doesn’t have a warranty, they are not a professional. Ask them what’s in their contract. Tip: If a contractor doesn’t use a contract, they are not a professional. (OK, those last three tips were sort of sarcastic. But not really, considering how often we see floor installations and finishes fail.)
Depending on the type of finish on your floor, maintenance will differ. Not sure? Contact our nationally certified Wood Floor Sales Advisor. Tip: If the sheen of your finish is inconsistent, you likely need a maintenance coat. How will you know? Contact our nationally certified Wood Floor Sales Advisor
THIRD, DEEP CLEANING IS DIFFERENT FROM SANDING WOOD FLOORS.
If your wood floors need deep cleaning, contact our nationally certified Wood Floor Sales Advisor. We do not deep clean wood floors but we know a professional who does. He comes highly recommended and we do not make referrals lightly.
“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.
LAST, BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT LABELS.
Just because a store or a person is selling you a product does not mean it is good for you to use on your wood floors. Even if it screams in big letters, SAFE FOR USE ON WOOD FLOORS. (In fact, sometimes the bigger the letters, the worse it is for your wood floor.)
We offer Denver’s only Nationally Certified, Award-Winning Wood Floor Advanced Master Craftsman. Our technicians have more than three decades’ experience and continue their education regularly to maintain professional status. We commit to our client experience every day: treat each home as if it were our own with no surprises because art is not just for walls.
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.