If you have hardwood floors in your home, then you know how much beauty they add to your life. Hardwood floors also are an investment, as many home buyers are magnetically drawn to any property that boasts genuine hardwood flooring.
This type of flooring is especially durable, which is one of the reasons why so many people choose it. In fact, hardwood floors can literally last for a person’s lifetime and beyond, as long as they are properly maintained.
Have you ever visited an historic home? Chances are good that it featured many gorgeous hardwood floors, some of which may have been original to the house. How is it possible for floors to last for a century or even longer?
Some of this longevity may be attributed to restoration efforts, but it’s also true that basic maintenance makes a huge difference.
If you want your hardwood floors to be as beautiful as possible and last for a lifetime, then keep reading. You’ll discover that a little bit of maintenance goes a long way.
Start with the Right Wood
If your home doesn’t already have hardwood flooring and you’re considering an upgrade, then the type of wood that you choose is critical to its potential longevity.
Most hardwood floors are created from deciduous trees with broad leaves. Cherry, ash, maple and oak are examples of these. However, coniferous softwood trees also can be made into hardwood flooring. Trees such as spruce, cedar, Douglas fir and pine are considered softwoods, but they can produce boards that are as hard or harder than those that come from deciduous trees.
Before making a final decision, it’s also worth considering some tropical hardwoods that are not native to North America. Some of these are very hard, and they bring a unique texture, luster and finish to your floors.
Remember that the harder the wood is, the less likely it is to be damaged by things like dropping a cooking pot or another heavy object. If you have kids, pets or just think you’re a bit accident prone, then it makes sense to go with a harder wood.
Ensure Proper Installation
While many flooring projects are within the skills of an avid DIY-er, hardwood flooring is a little different. Because so many factors can affect successful installation, it is nearly always recommended that homeowners ask a professional to do the work.
When a hardwood floor is not properly installed, it has a direct negative effect on the longevity of the material. Even though you may have a professional install your floor, you’ll still have a few decisions that may need to be made.
Genuine hardwood floors typically are nailed into place. The nails don’t show too much in the finished product, and this is a really permanent installation method. The right subfloor is required. Typically, a wooden subfloor is recommended, and if you don’t already have one, then this may have to be installed. Any existing flooring will have to be removed.
Your flooring contractor will ensure that conditions are just right before beginning installation. This may involve:
- Allowing the wood to acclimate in the room for about five days before installation
- Ensuring that a proper subfloor is in place
- Showing the location of floor joists with marks on the walls
- Removal of baseboards
- Laying out the boards in the order in which they will be installed
Because hardwood flooring installation professionals do this type of work every day, you can trust that the job will be done correctly, thereby ensuring the longevity of your hardwood floor.
Use Good Maintenance Practices
Like any quality flooring material, it pays to take care of your hardwood floors. Use habits like these to ensure that your floor lasts for as long as possible:
- Protect high traffic areas with doormats and area rugs
- Avoid getting hairspray, furniture polish, or other chemicals on hardwood floors
- Remove residue from the floor using a no-wax cleaner
- Vacuum the floor once a week
- Look for ways to keep rainwater from contacting hardwood floors
- Wipe up any spills immediately after they occur
It similarly is recommended that homeowners look for ways to minimize the exposure that hardwood floors get to sunlight. The sun’s rays cause the color in hardwood flooring to fade, which not only diminishes the floor’s appearance but also may have a negative effect on longevity.
Additionally, it is worth considering the negative effect that dampness and humidity have on hardwood floors. If you have issues with high humidity in your home, then it is wise to address and correct these issues before your hardwood flooring is installed. Remember that any plumbing leaks may cause immediate and lasting damage, so if you ever suspect a leak, get it fixed as soon as possible.
More About Cleaning Hardwood Flooring
When you’re determined to maximize the longevity of your floors, then sticking to a regular cleaning schedule is crucial. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and cleaning before you begin.
Most manufacturers recommend daily sweeping or dry mopping with a hardwood floor mop to remove dust and debris. On a weekly basis, run a vacuum cleaner over the floor using the “hard floor” setting. With this setting, the vacuum actually raises and deactivates the brush roll, which is critical for not causing damage to the floor. It may be wise to use a vacuum model that has rubber wheels rather than plastic wheels to avoid leaving scratches.
Wet mopping also is recommended by some manufacturers. This may be done every week or two. Use a cleaner that is formulated for use on hardwood flooring and a hardwood floor mop. Choosing the right cleaner is important because chemicals that aren’t intended for use on hardwood floors may dull or damage the finish.
When wet mopping, be careful of leaving any standing water. It’s usually best for the mop to be damp rather than sopping wet. If you prefer to use a steam mop, check to ensure that it is suitable for use on hardwood floors before beginning.
What About Scratches and Marks?
No matter how careful you are, your hardwood floor is going to suffer its share of dings and nicks. Typically, you can take care of such small imperfections yourself using liquid scratch concealer or a floor polish, which will fill little scratches. Floor wax similarly can be useful when it’s time for a deep cleansing and some revitalization.
Have Hardwood Floors Refinished Every 10 Years
If you are really vigilant about everyday cleaning and maintenance of your hardwood floor, then it should last for 10 years or longer without needing major restoration. However, when you start to see dullness, lots of scratches or maybe a greater number of pits and dings, then it may be time for refinishing.
This can be a pretty big job, especially if you have hardwood flooring in several rooms. Plus, because it involves sanding, which is a chore that requires a great deal of finesse, many homeowners decide to have a professional do the job.
Additionally, if some of the planks in the wood flooring are too damaged to repair, it may be necessary to replace them. If you want to ensure that any replaced boards blend in well with the surrounding flooring, it’s wise to ask a professional for assistance.
Contact Diamond State Hardwood Floors for Installation, Repair and Refinishing
Whether you are considering installing hardwood flooring or want to make your existing wood floor look better than new, contact Diamond State Hardwood Floors. With more than a decade specializing in the installation and maintenance of hardwood floors, we’re proud to serve our friends and neighbors across Kent and Sussex Counties.
Call us today to find out why so many people have come to rely on us when they want to install or maintain gorgeous hardwood flooring.