After we install, refinish, or re-coat a hardwood floor, homeowners invariably ask us what they can do to preserve its pristine beauty for the long-term. Taking good care of your hardwood floors not only enhances the beauty of your home, but it also saves you money in the long run, since well-maintained hardwood floors rarely need refinishing unless you want to change the color. Poorly maintained floors, on the other hand, could need refinishing within a decade.
These tips will help you properly care for your hardwood floors so that you can enjoy their beautiful glow for years to come.
1. Install pads on your furniture.
Nothing will scratch, scuff, dent, and gouge your floor faster and more thoroughly than chair, table, and couch legs. No matter how light or how heavy your furniture, installing pads on the legs will go a long way toward preserving your floors. Some chairs have hard plastic inserts meant to protect floors from scratches, but these can still damage your floors and should be popped out and replaced with soft ones.
The options for furniture pads are many, but you want to avoid rubber at all costs, since over time, the rubber can melt into the finish on your hardwood, and fixing that kind of damage requires sanding and refinishing the entire floor. We recommend felt pads, which are soft and slide easily across the floor.
Felt pads come in a variety of types, but professional-grade pads are best. Pound-in pads stay put, while glide pads are like little protective felt-bottom saucers upon which your furniture sits. Self-adhesive pads are inexpensive, but we don’t recommend them for dining chairs or other frequently-moved furniture since the adhesive will weaken over time and the pads will slip off. We like slip-on pads, which are like socks for your furniture legs. They won’t fall off unless you lift up the furniture, and they leave no exposed areas that can scratch your floors. Slip-on pads aren’t terribly attractive, but they come in a range of colors for easy camouflaging.
2. Use cloth pads under rubber-backed rugs.
The rubber backing found on many rugs is a hardwood floor disaster waiting to happen. Because the rubber is made from a material similar to polyurethane, over time, the rubber can meld with the polyurethane on the floor.
If your rugs have attached rubber backing or you’re looking for ways to keep your non-rubber backed rugs in place, opt for cloth pads made specifically for rugs. These lay beneath the rug to keep it in place and protect your floors. You can purchase cloth pads for rugs at Pottery Barn, or you can find and order them online.
3. Stop UV ray damage.
If your floors are exposed to sunlight for hours every day, they’ll likely fade over time. The main problem here is that places that are covered by rugs or furniture won’t fade, and you’ll end up with unevenly colored floors. The only way to fix that kind of damage is by refinishing the floors.
Keep your shades or curtains drawn during the day—or at least during times when the sun shines directly on them—or install UV coating on your windows to prevent damaging rays from getting through.
4. Use the right cleaning products.
This is a big one. Using the wrong cleaners on your hardwood floors can cause catastrophic problems when it comes time to re-coat, and they often cause a dull build-up that robs your floors of their lustrous sheen. Avoid at all costs those cleaners that contain ammonia, vinegar, wax, polish, or oil. Choose a product that’s made specifically for the type of finish on your floors, whether they’re older and finished with wax, polyurethane-coated, or pre-finished in the factory with aluminum oxide urethane. Any cleaner recommended by a hardwood flooring professional will likely be a good choice. We always recommend Bona’s line of non-toxic cleaning products, especially if you have beloved pets or children in the house.
5. Ban shoes and untrimmed paws.
Walking on your floors day in and day out with hard-soled shoes—especially those of the high-heeled variety—will wear out your floors faster than anything else. Even soft-soled shoes become coated with debris that can scratch your floors, especially if they have a grooved tread where pieces of gravel can become embedded. Make a point to remove your shoes at the door and slip into a soft pair of socks or slippers.
Your pet’s nails can also wreak havoc on your hardwood floors. Keep your pets’ nails trimmed, and round them off with a nail file or dremel to prevent undue wear and gouging.
6. Re-coat often.
Over time, it’s inevitable that your floors will lose some luster and the finish will become worn in high-traffic areas. Every few years, have them recoated with polyurethane. For floors that were finished on-site, a re-coat involves lightly roughing up the surface and re-applying the top-coat, while pre-finished floors are chemically etched to ensure the new coat of polyurethane adheres properly. A re-coat is far less expensive than refinishing your floors, but it can’t be done if any of the existing finish is completely worn away.
For more tips on protecting your hardwood floors, or if you think you might be ready for a re-coat, contact The Floor Doctor today. We offer free on-site evaluations and have a high level of expertise concerning every kind of hardwood floor damage imaginable.
Omaha native Trevor Hayden is The Floor Doctor, specializing in restoring hardwood floors to their original luster using the least invasive—and the least expensive—method possible. An award-winning, Bona-certified craftsman who got his start in the hardwood flooring industry at the tender age of 11, Trevor’s passion for all things hardwood is evident from the moment you meet him.