The Do's And Don'ts Of Hardwood Floor Care: 5 Golden Rules For Newbies

Posted on: 23 March 2016

If you have recently installed hardwood flooring in your home and are unfamiliar with how to properly care for your new floor, it's in your best interest to learn about maintenance and prevention. To protect your new investment and keep it in optimal condition, take heed and learn what mistakes to avoid and what measures to take for everyday care. The following guidelines will help you learn what you should be doing and what you shouldn't do to your new wood floor:

1. DO Remove Your Shoes or Boots Before Walking on Your Wood Floor: As a first-time owner of wood flooring, you may not be accustomed to removing your shoes when entering your home. It may seem a little extreme, but removing your shoes before treading on your hardwood floor might help prevent unsightly scratches. It is especially important not to walk on a wood floor while wearing high heels or spiked shoes.

Also, any type of shoe may track mud or dirt onto your hardwood floor, and over time, this may dull the finish. If you must wear some type of footwear while walking on your wood floor, wear soft soled slippers or socks.

2. DON'T Use Abrasive Cleaners or Equipment on Your Hardwood Floor: Unless these are especially made for cleaning hardwood floors, avoid chemical cleaners. Also avoid using household vinegar on your wood floor, as the acidic content may harm the wood. By the same token, avoid steam cleaning your hardwood floor with a steam cleaner. The moisture produced by the steam will eventually seep into the wood, and this may cause warping or damage over time. Most commonly, moisture penetrating into the wood may cause the boards to swell and buckle, possibly resulting in the need for replacement or repair.

3. DO Shield Your Hardwood Floor From Direct Sunlight

If you've never owned and cared for wood floors, you may not realize the potential for damage by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most species of wood will fade somewhat when exposed to UV rays. If you allow natural sunlight to hit your wood constantly, you may notice discoloration or uneven coloring after a period of time. A good way to equalize this exposure from the sun is to rearrange your furniture or floor coverings (throw rugs, in particular) periodically. This will help your wood floor maintain a consistent and even shade. Another way to shield your wood flooring from harmful sunlight is to use suitable window coverings and keep draperies closed during the daytime when the sun is strongest. Try using drapes with a blackout lining. Insulating window films that block UV light are another good solution, and these are easily purchased at home improvement stores.

4. DON'T Let Humidity Levels in Your Home Become Too High (or Too Low)

Damage to your hardwood floor may occur from too much moisture in the air as well as on the floor. Monitor humidity levels in your home. Don't let humidity rise above 55 percent, or the moisture could penetrate into the wood and cause damage. If you live in a particularly humid area, you might want to consider purchasing a dehumidifier.

Conversely, if you live in a very arid region such as the desert, you might want to buy a humidifier to raise the humidity and prevent the wood from drying out.

5. DO Consider The Impact Your Pets May Have on Your Wood Floors

Pet owners need to be especially vigilant when it comes to wood floor care. Cats and dogs with overgrown nails may cause unsightly scratches to the wood, so keep their nails trimmed if they are allowed access to the wood floor. Another good idea is to place some type of mat or covering underneath all food and water bowls that are kept on any wood floor.

If you have any concerns about caring for your new wood floor, refer to your user guide. A good rule of thumb is to follow manufacturer's instructions for care and maintenance. Not doing so may void your warranty.