With all the recent focus on cleaning, washing hands, and eliminating germs we thought it an appropriate time to talk about something else in your home that needs cleaning- your floors. But before we get into the details on how to clean your floors like a pro, we should distinguish that there’s a difference between cleaning and maintenance and your wood floors will need both!
Cleaning your floors is something that can be done in some format daily, weekly, or monthly. Cleaning may happen daily when you sweep up dirt in high traffic areas or when you run a vacuum over your floors. This form of cleaning is important as dirt left on floors can lead to scratches on the surface and reduce the life of the flooring. When we talk about cleaning floors in terms of getting them wet or mopping, there are few things you should know. Cleaning should be done with a cleaner (usually in concentrate) that’s made by the manufacturer of the finish that is applied to your flooring. Your flooring contractor can share with you the brand of finish applied so you can be sure you are purchasing the recommended cleaner for your floor type. Typically, the finish manufacturers also make mop kits to get you started. Those include the mop (with a trigger handle and spray bottle attachment for the cleaning solution) as well as the cleaner and a mop pad. We recommend cleaning your floors every couple of weeks and immediately spot cleaning spills, especially acidic items like milk, ice cream, wine, and mustard. Also, ensure that you are rinsing the mop or cleaning pad thoroughly as you clean because moping with a dirty pad can cause scratches to the finish. When you are done, the mop/pad should not be cleaned in the washing machine but instead, thoroughly rinsed with water and allowed to air dry.
Maintenance is something that will be done less often than cleaning but however, it is an important step in extending the life of your floor. In many cases, with proper maintenance, your floor might not require resanding or refinishing if it has received the correct care from the start. The most important thing to look for in terms of maintenance is consistency in the sheen of the finish. Traffic areas will either get shinier or duller when the finish is wearing down. That’s when the floor needs maintenance! If you have a film-forming finish (film-forming finishes are water-based polyurethane, for example—it forms a film between the wood and your foot) and you start to notice a difference in sheen throughout the traffic areas, you will want to call a professional for a maintenance coat (or screen and coat). Do not attempt to polish your floor yourself. There are polished and glow products sold in stores to the general public, but please, consider one of our themes in this line of work: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” With a professional maintenance coat, your furniture must be completely moved out so that nothing covers the wood floors and then we abrade the top coat of finish and apply another coat so the sheen is consistent throughout. If you polish your floors, a professional maintenance coat will not adhere to that polish. It will need to be completely resanded and that can significantly increase the cost and labor required to restore the flooring. Professional maintenance (or sometimes called recoating) should be done every 5-10 years depending on the traffic in your home.
If you have a penetrating oil finish, you are in luck! While maintenance is more frequent (every 3-6 years) with a penetrating oil vs a film-forming finish, the maintenance is less of an impact on your lifestyle. When you start to notice a sheen difference, call a professional (preferably the company that applied the oil because they know the brand/manufacturer used) and they will add oil in traffic areas to maintain the consistency of the sheen throughout. This solution is great (and easy) since you don’t have to move furniture/rugs and some treatments can be applied through mopping the flooring.
If you think it is time to maintain your flooring or would like a professional opinion on how your floors are wearing or aging please call us for more information; we would be happy to share our expertise!