Hardwood floors have their advantages and disadvantages. For one, hardwood floors add elegance and style to any room or home. Secondly, hardwood floors are built to last. However, you will still need to do regular maintenance on your hard wood floors to ensure their longevity and to maintain their appearance.
Oak is among the most common hard woods used for flooring. Because of modern polyurethane sealants and finishes, hardwood is easier than ever to maintain, with regular cleaning.
- Do regular sweeping and mopping. Dust and debris are among the biggest concerns you have with hardwood floors. Accumulated dust and debris can easily scratch the finish of your hardwood floors, especially in high-traffic areas. Make it a point to sweep your hardwood floors on a daily basis. You can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. You can also sweep using a soft broom and dust pan.
- Use rugs and carpets. For best results, add rugs or carpeting to high-traffic areas. This include areas in your living room in front of the sofas, for instance. If your kitchen has oak hardwood floors, you will also need to place small rugs or mats in front of the sink and stove, which are high-traffic areas, and prone to moisture and oil.
- Take off your shoes. If you think taking off your street shoes when entering the home is only a cultural practice, think again. It actually helps a lot in several ways. First, it's healthy-leaving your shoes outdoors will minimize the germs entering your household. Secondly, it minimizes dust and debris, which can be tracked onto your hardwood floor, causing scratches.
- Do deep cleaning once in a while. After some time, you will notice your hardwood floor losing its shine and luster. This is a sign that it needs deeper cleaning. Clear out furniture and any carpeting. Do a thorough sweeping or vacuuming, to remove any dust or debris. Make a mixture of oil-based cleaner and water, such as Murphy's Oil Soap or Scott's Wood Wash. Test the mixture first on an inconspicuous area, to see if your hardwood floor reacts negatively to the solution. If it works well, then you can already apply it to your entire floor using a damp mop. After application, wipe your floor dry with a thick, dry cloth.
- Apply sealant. To preserve your floor's surface, and to prevent moisture damage, you will need to seal it with a polyurethane sealant. You can use products like Swiffer WetJet or Basic Coatings' Squeaky Floor Care to clean hardwood floors that are protected with sealant. Hardwood floors with polyurethane sealant are usually shinier and smoother than plain hardwood. However, if your hardwood floor is covered with oil-based polishes or wax, you will need a solvent-based cleaner to clean these.
- Avoid spills and scratches. If your flooring is made primarily with hardwood, you should avoid spills. If you get spills on your flooring, wipe these up immediately. Also, apply rubber or felt adhesive feet on your furniture, to prevent scratching.
- Avoid acrylic-based products. Lastly, you might be tempted to use regular waxes on your hardwood. Avoid these, especially acrylic-based products that are meant for tiles. These might give you a shine in the short term, but will cause dulling of your hardwood's color eventually.