Wood floors have been considered a sign of warmth and luxury in building design for centuries. Wood has been our most versatile flooring of choice and polished panels of wood atop our floors are beautiful from family dining rooms to grand hotel ballrooms. Wood floors are at once both common and exquisite, especially when properly cared for.
But who knows how to really take care of natural wood floors, anymore? This knowledge has been selectively passed down and most modern adults simply don’t have a source for the generational tricks of wood floor care. Instead, we rely on internet guides, so let’s dive into the right way to clean your wood floors.
Types of Wood Floor
- Natural Wood Plank
- Pressed Board Plank
- Laminate Composite Plank
First, let’s talk about the type of wood floor you have. There are three ways wood floor planks can be made. They can be hewn from actual logs, pressed into planks like cabinet board, or they can be layered press-laminate boards. If your wood floors were installed in the last 5-10 years, there’s a good chance you have laminate composite, which is the sturdiest and easiest to take care of – but also the least natural. If you are in a historic building, you’re the most likely to have natural wood plank. Anything in-between may vary by quality and era whether it is pressed board or natural wood.
Natural wood needs the most attentive care. Pressed board takes the most damage from moisture, though all three will buckle if flooded. Laminate composite does not need oil or waxing.
Daily Hardwood Maintenance Tips
- Wipe Up Spills Promptly
- Sweep Daily
- Apply Foot Pads to Furniture
- Vacuum to Baseboards
How can you protect your wood floors from damage? These daily maintenance tips apply to all three types of wood floor. Most important are moisture and scratches. So wipe up spills quickly, don’t use too much mop water, and sweep up sharp particles on a regular basis. You can use a vacuum and it’s corner hose attachment to get the floor as close to spotless as possible.
How to Routinely Clean Hardwood Floors
- Sweep to the Corners
- Mop with a Damp, Wrung Mop
- Air-Dry or Dry-Mop
- Swiffers and Hardwood
How should you clean your hardwood on a daily or weekly basis? Wood floors do need special care, but they are not difficult to take care of in your normal cleaning routine. When you clean the wood floor, start with an indoor broop with a sharp cut and sweep from the corners inward. Try to pick up all small and potentially scratching items that could catch under furniture and feet.
Then get a well-wrung mop. This can be a sponge or rag mop, but choose one with a modern easy-wring mechanism so your mop is only ever damp, not sopping. Mop with firm strokes to cover the surface, clean the water, and then mop again. Let the floor air-dry or use a dry mop (or towels) to pick up excess water.
Swiffers are great for daily hardwood cleaning, and a wet Swiffer sheet (or a DIY equivalent) can quickly clear your wood floor of small particles.
How to Scrub Natural Wood Floors
- Scrub with Damp Cloth
- Refinish If Necessary
If you need to pick up a nasty spill or work something out of the grain, you may need to scrub your wood floor. Do this with a washcloth soaked in hot mildly soapy water, then wring to firm dampness. Scrub firmly in circles over the affected area. Rinse and wring cloth as necessary.
If the stain or damage won’t come out, you can wire-scrub and/or lightly sand the area, then refinish it to repair the floor.
How to Preserve Your Wood Floors
- Oil Every Two Years
- Apply a New Wax Finish Every 5 Years, or As Needed
- Wax-In Dents
- Most Repairs: Buff, Sand, Restain, Refinish, Reseal
What about oiling the wood floor? You’ve heard about oiling and waxing, but no one seems to do it anymore. Oil and wax are best for natural plank floors but these tricks can work on non-laminated pressed planks as well. However, modern laminate boards are more like wood-infused plastic which is very durable and even comfy on bare feet, but doesn’t need to be waxed.
For natural wood plank floors, oil the floors thoroughly every two years and have a professional wax finish applied every five years. If you need to do deep or extensive repairs, you will likely want to sand down the area, then re-stain, -finish, and -seal the area to restore your hardwood floor.
Cleaning and caring for a hardwood floor is something anyone can do once they know the right techniques. For more how-to-clean guides and helpful maintenance insights, or to schedule a professional cleaning service from the pros, contact us today.