What Is Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring refers to any flooring product made from planks of hardwood lumber, such as oak, maple, or walnut. When most customers think of hardwood flooring, they’re thinking of solid hardwood, where the planks are derived 100% from the source wood. Another popular product is engineered hardwood flooring, where a thin layer of hardwood is bonded to a composite layer composed of plywood.
Hardwood flooring is renowned for its luxurious appearance, durability, and longevity. A floor of solid hardwood can last over a century with the right care and conditions, and even engineered hardwood can last decades. To take advantage of these qualities, however, you’ll need to ensure that your hardwood floor is properly cared for, and that you employ the right floor care solutions at the right time.
Hardwood Care Tips
It’s no secret that hardwood flooring can be expensive, and the best way to get the most out of your investment is by keeping up with preventative care and maintenance that protects your floor and keeps it looking its best. This lets you save the most intense cleaning and restoration solutions for when you need them most.
There are so many different ways to care for your hardwood floor that it is important to know which one to employ at which time. From easiest to most intensive, here are some ways to care for your hardwood floor:
- Regular Cleaning
- Deep Cleaning
- Screen and Recoat
Here are some tips on the best way to use these different floor care techniques:
Check Your Finish
The first step in caring for your hardwood floor is checking the finish product. Depending on the finish that’s been applied to the floor, you’ll need to use different cleaning products and styles. The most common varieties of finish are:
- Water Based Finish: The common type of finish for modern floors is polyurethane varnish. This product forms a protective, clear coat on the top of your wood to protect it from scuffs and scratches and to keep water out.
- Wax or Oil Based Finish: A penetrating finish that seeps into the top layer of your floor. Usually the finish itself is oil-based, and then finished with wax for extra shine.
One important difference between water-based polyurethane and waxed finishes is that the latter does not repel water – making it important that you avoid using excess water when cleaning a floor with this kind of finish.
Hardwood flooring has an excellent advantage over carpet in that dust and grime cannot penetrate the surface of the floor.
To remove the build-up of dust that will accumulate on your hardwood, it’s recommended to do a light cleaning at least weekly. The safest way of doing this is with a dry mop (like a Swiffer or other microfibre mop head). If you opt to sweep or vacuum your floor, make sure that anything coming into contact with your hardwood is soft and not abrasive.
Any spills should be promptly cleaned up with a damp cloth and dried. Caked-on mud and food residues should be approached in the same way.
Regular cleaning won’t always be enough to keep your floors looking their best. That’s why it’s best to conduct an occasional deep cleaning of your floor.
While you can perform a deep cleaning yourself using special products (make sure they’re compatible with the finish of your floor!), it can be a great idea to bring in a professional once every six months or so. They’ll use a scrubbing machine, which can remove the dirt from high traffic areas without damaging your floor.
Screen And Recoat
Screening and recoating is a more intense procedure, but one that definitely deserves a place in your floor care toolkit.
During a screen and recoat, the finish from your floor will be removed using a floor buffer, which will lightly abrade the surface. After this has been done, a fresh coat of finish will be applied.
How often do you need to screen and recoat? The standard answer is every one to three years. Telltale signs you’re ready for a recoat are scratches or scuffs, a finish that is running thin, or simply a floor that is losing its lustre.
Refinishing is the most “heavy duty” floor care option available. It is the solution of choice for serious issues with your floor, such as deep scratches, a fading stain, or simply when you would like to stain the wood a new colour.
During a refinishing, your floor will first have its finish removed. Once this is done, your floor will be sanded down using a drum sander. This will remove the top layer of the planks, leaving raw hardwood underneath.
Starting again with raw hardwood, you can apply a stain of your choice, and have the floor re-finished again.
If you don’t experience any serious scratching or other damage, most floors should be refinished every ten to twenty years. A solid hardwood floor can refinished ten to twelve times during its lifespan. Beware! An engineered hardwood floor can usually only be refinished once, if it can be refinished at all.
Hardwood floors are renowned now only for their great looks, but also their longevity. If you want to take advantage of your investment in hardwood floors, or if you inherited them when you’ve purchased your home, you need to put in the right level of care to keep them looking their best. Regular cleaning, deep cleaning, screening and recoating, and refinishing all have their place in your arsenal.
While you’ll need to clean your floor regularly, it’s worth investing in a professional when it’s time to perform deep cleaning, and especially when doing a screen and recoat or refinish. These procedures require special equipment to perform properly, and can even leave your floor looking worse than it started if not performed properly! When you think of your floor as a part of your home that can last for decades, it’s a good idea to leave some things to the pros.