Routine maintenance and care of hardwood floors requires:
- Protecting the surface finish from heavy wear
- Daily cleaning to remove dirt, grit and dust
- Protecting the finish from moisture
These three routine tasks and care strategies will help to prevent damage to hardwood floors and to ensure the floor keeps its natural beauty.
It is important to remember that dirt, sand and grit are among the hardwood floor's worst enemies. This grunge will act like sandpaper to a floor's finish and can cause scratches and dents that will dull the floor. An important step to protecting the floor and finish is to place walk-off mats at all building entrances to prevent debris from being tracked onto the floor you are trying to protect. Walk-off matting also absorbs moisture and keeps it from being tracked onto the floor.
TIP: Avoid placing rubber backed entrance matting directly on the wood floor. The rubber backing can discolor the floor.
It is also important to sweep, vacuum or dust mop frequently to remove dirt and dust. A backpack vacuum with a hard floor attachment is the best way to pick up and remove contaminants from a hardwood floor. If you are using a broom, use one that is soft and has fine ends so that dirt and contaminants become trapped and are lifted away. You can also use a high quality microfiber flat mop.
TIP: Always remember to clean underneath the walk-off mats.
Another important preventive maintenance step is to place protector pads on furniture legs. Floor protector pads should be made of soft felt or a similar type material. If you ever need to move furniture, always pick it up and carry it -- never drag furniture across the floor.
Footwear and foot traffic can cause damage to hardwood floors. Soiled work boots or any footwear that has rocks, mud, or gravel stuck into the treads can dent or scratch the floor. Remind your customers how important it is to invest in walk-off matting to help protect their investment.
Water is also an enemy of hardwood floors. Water and spills can warp or permanently damage a floor's finish. Spills should be cleaned up immediately before they have the opportunity to set in and stain or warp the floor. Wipe up spills with a soft, damp cloth or microfiber cloth, and then follow up with a cleaning solution if needed and a dry, soft cloth.
Another factor to remember is that direct sun can discolor a hardwood floor. If a floor is exposed to direct sunlight, recommend to the customer that they close curtains or blinds or add sheer drapes to protect from the floor from the sun's harsh UV rays.
To stay looking their best, wood floors need periodic cleaning with a professional wood floor cleaning product. If you know the type of flooring, follow the manufacturer's recommended cleaning system. But if the specific type of hardwood floor is unknown, use a wood cleaner that does not leave a residue. Most finish manufacturers do not recommend wetting wood floors with water. When you use a cleaner that requires mixing with water follow the directions carefully and do not mix over the wood floor itself.
When taking care of wood floors avoid the following:
- Using saturated mops on the floor
- Using ammonia on the floor
- Using household type dust cleaners
- Using products that are not recommended for wood floors
Don't let hardwood floors lose their luster. Spending a little time every day protecting and properly caring for hardwood floors will go a long ways towards keeping the floor looking great and keeping your customer happy.