Hardwood is a classic, beautiful option for your home’s flooring. When it is in good condition, hardwood lends instant value to your home, and is easier in many ways to maintain than carpeting. However, hardwood is ultimately a delicate material that can be damaged over time with excessive foot traffic. Here’s how to care for your floors, as well as some ideas for remodeling them.
Watch Your Shoes
Avoid tracking in dirt, sand, salt, and other debris on the bottoms of your shoes. Grit can scratch up your floors as soon as it crosses the threshold. Similarly, high heels or spiked shoes (such as cleats) are a big no-no. Because the heel is a small point with a person’s body weight acting as pressure, they can easily dent floors. Put down a welcome mat inside to encourage people to wipe their shoes thoroughly upon entering, and consider enforcing a “shoes-off” rule.
Pad Your Furniture
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to save your hardwood is by sticking some kind of pad over your furniture’s legs. These are available as tap-on, stick-on, and slip-on versions, and optimal materials are felt or rubber. Place them on couch and chair legs, especially if the piece is moved around often.
Know How to Clean It
While you understandably want to tackle germs with heavy-hitting cleaners like vinegar or ammonia, these products are abrasive to your floor’s finish. Additionally, you want to avoid a cleaner with wax, since it can cause build-up over time that will dull the wood’s shine. If you are going to mop, stick with water. However, you want to limit damp mopping for occasional cleaning jobs, since wood can retain excess moisture, resulting in damaged, discolored floors. Use a dust mop for daily cleaning.
Your Pet Threat
Your pet’s nails and claws can act similar to a spiked shoe, scratching up your hardwood over time. Trim their nails regularly. Also be mindful of their water bowl area – if Fluffy is constantly splashing water around, it could be seeping into the wood underneath. And if you have an elderly or ill pet, take care that body fluids are promptly and thoroughly cleaned after an accident, since it can stain the wood.
Know When to Remodel
Sometimes saving a damaged floor is a matter of sanding down and buffing out scratches. You can patch or replace sections within reason, and re-stain to match the rest of the floor. If you are dealing with wood damage due to pests or water in the home, you might want to consult the professionals. First make the sure the underlying problem is resolved, and then hire a contractor to do a thorough floor remodel.
Sometimes floors are not worth saving. If the boards move too much or there are considerable structural problems below, do not bother refinishing them. In this case, you would benefit more from a gut and replace job.
If you do need to start over, consider some alternatives to traditional pine, oak, or maple. Bamboo has the appearance of wood, even though it is actually a type of grass, and is a renewable resource. Wood-like tile flooring mimics the appearance of hardwood but is much easier to maintain. Laminate is possibly the lowest maintenance option, and frees you from worrying about wear or tear to wood.
However, if you choose to stick with hardwood, you are making an environmentally-friendly, hypoallergenic, and beautiful choice. Hardwood is an investment that, when installed and cared for properly, will add value to your family’s living environment and your house itself when cared for properly.
Visit Responsible Contractors to learn more about qualified, verified professionals who can help you repair, replace, and install the right floor for your home.