How to Maintain Wood Flooring. Wood flooring is one of the most popular options on the market for both new construction and remodels. It looks elegant when installed, and is one of the most durable types of flooring available. In fact, a properly maintained wood floor will look good decades from now. A key part of that statement is that the floor must be properly maintained. Exactly how that floor should be maintained depends on what type of wood flooring you have.
Regardless of what type of wood flooring you have, there are certain universal standards. You should avoid dragging anything across your floors; always pick the furniture up to move it. Even if a dragged item doesn’t scratch the finish (it usually will) it can actually press grooves and gouges into the wood itself. No matter what kind of wood you have it is hard to sand out deep grooves. For more detail, it will depend on your floor.
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Laminate flooring is designed to mimic wood floors. This is a great option if you want the beauty of hardwood floors, but need something that is waterproof. Laminates are also substantially less expensive, but they are not quite as durable long-term as true wood floors. Since they are waterproof, your laminate floors can be cleaned with any standard mopping solution. Avoid bleach as it can strip away the shine of your finish, but your options are pretty open. As far as long-term maintenance, there isn’t much to do. The laminate will eventually wear and fade, and the only option at that point is to replace the flooring.
Engineered hardwoods are a less expensive option for many than solid hardwood floors, but their high durability and ease of install make them a great option. Engineered hardwood is a relatively thin layer of surface hardwood bonded to a composite substructure. These planks look like tongue and groove or click lock hardwood until you cut them. In the cross-section, you can see the multiple layers.
Engineered hardwood is less resilient than solid hardwood floors, and not as water-resistant as laminate floors, so they require some special handling. Use a wood floor cleaner for regular mopping. Engineered hardwoods respond to waxes and other finishes similarly to hardwoods, so you may use them sparingly. Just know that build-up may occur, and many of the more intense removal options available with hardwood are not safe for engineered floors.
Fully Finished Hardwoods
Prefinished hardwoods may come as tongue and groove boards, click lock, and sometimes even in standard fit and nail planks. These are an extremely convenient way to get a finished hardwood floor in a short amount of time. Because they are solid wood, they can be stripped at a later date to allow you to refinish damaged flooring, change stain colors, swap matte for gloss, or any other changes you might desire.
Prefinished hardwoods are a little less durable than a sanded and sealed hardwood floor, so if you are worried about heavy traffic, consider an unfinished floor and give it a heavier layer of lacquer or varnish to seal it. Either way, make sure to only use cleaners that are intended for wood floors. Waxing prefinished floors can give them a durable and attractive finish and can be stripped since the floors are solid.
Oil Finished Floors
One of the oldest ways to finish a hardwood floor is with an oil finish. Oil finishes look amazing but are harder to maintain. You can’t really mop an oil-finished floor with anything but water. Soap of any kind can break down the finish. This is fine for day-to-day wear, but many spills can soak right through the oil and stain the wood permanently. Oil finishes can be waxed to increase the stain resistance, but many soaps will still break down the finish, so use only wood cleaners engineered for waxed surfaces.
No matter what kind of wood flooring you have, care is relatively simple. Avoid cleaners that aren’t formulated for your floor’s finish, avoid dragging things across the floor, keep it swept. If you do these basic tasks, your wood floor will look good for years to come!