This guide of how to clean & maintain your wood floors applies only to floors with a surface coating type of finish such as oil-based polyurethane finish, water based finishes, etc. For floors with penetrating finish, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions.
There are some similarities in care between the various finish types, but for the sake of ease, this article pertains to water & oil based polyurethanes only. None of them requires scrubbing on your hands & knees nor flooding the floor with water! Flooring finishes have come a long way since Great-grandmother’s time & the methods of cleaning & maintaining them have evolved right along with them.
There are many choices in flooring finishes today, each one with different care requirements. If you should currently be trying to decide about which finish to apply to your floor, you might want to read this article on cleaning & maintenance, as well as the one on types of finishes. Appearance is not the only consideration unless you have a houseful of staff. I’m guessing that a few of you don’t!
That’s brings the point to mind, this article is a good guide for your housekeeper. I have seen too many floors ruined because a lack of education.
TIPS ON MAINTAINING YOUR POLYURETHANE COATED WOOD FLOOR
1. Avoid high heel traffic, especially heels that have lost the protective little tips on the end. They are deadly to wood floors.
2. Use walk-off mats at all entrances. It’s not a bad idea to remove your shoes before entering your house. It is the tradition in many cultures. In addition to dirt, it also keeps out pesticides & herbicides that might be picked up outside. It also helps you enforce #1 when you have guests & you don’t want to be singling out any one person.
3. Place protectors on the feet of all furniture. You can get them in different types. This is a link to Amazon where you can see the various kinds & even some cute little videos about how to use them.
4. Use area rugs in high traffic areas.
PETS & WOOD FLOORS
Let’s start with our canine buddies.
If Doggie weighs over 30-40 lbs. or is very bouncy, their claws can not only scratch the wood but can actually dent it. Softwood floors like pine or fir, even floors of old growth wood which are harder than floors of newly harvested woods of the same species, are more susceptible to this, but I have seen many dented old-growth oak floors.
Some of my flooring customers used claw tips & found them workable. You can see them on Amazon here. I know little about them & recommend that you speak with your vet or trainer before trying them on your pet.
I also recommend placing rugs beneath the places where Doggie likes to hang out because when they jump down, they can exert quite a bit of force against your floor. If you place the rug part way under the feet of the furniture piece, it will help to anchor it.
There is no finish that will make your floor harder. Wood is soft & porous & though I’m not going to say that it’s a delicate material, it does take knowing what it likes & what it doesn’t like to get along with it.
Kitties are another matter. Firstly, I do not think that there is any way in the world to protect a wood floor from a litter box. There is nothing that you can put under it that will make any difference. Find a floor with an impervious surface. Kitties also seem to like to throw up & their vomit is very acidic. All I can say is that you need to clean it up as soon as possible. You hear the urping sound, grab a paper towel & get it up immediately.
I have never seen a cat scratch a floor, though my Pouella scratched my high gloss dining table. We had a large round metal platter that we displayed in the center, & she used to like to walk around it before settling herself atop the nice, cool dish. After a couple years of this, when you picked up the platter you could faintly see a circle of tiny claw marks. (This was nothing compared to what she did to the couch, but that’s another story.)
CLEANING YOUR POLYURETHANE COATED WOOD FLOORS
Here’s where you’re going to get instructions that are unique to me. I have seen many, many floors ruined by loving hands.I have spoken to many heart-broken homeowners whose new floors were cupping (Here’s the GLOSSARY!) or cloudy. They all had one thing in common. They weren’t my customers! My customers got a cute little care basket with a cleaning kit, feet & most importantly, instructions on how to use them, at the end of the job.
So here’s what I suggest- a long-handled Swiffer for every day dust & cat fur removal. Barefooted, it is exactly the right height for me. (With shoes on, I have to bend a little bit.) I use a robot vacuum every other day but it doesn’t get under & around everything, & the dust & cat fur do! I do not use one with a water tank. As you will see, I like to control my floor’s moisture level.
For a more thorough clean, I pull out my trusty canister Miele. It has a HEPA system, not just a HEPA filter. I use a soft brush attachment that I routinely check for any pieces of plastic that could touch the floor. I run this over the floor, using a wee bit of pressure, to ensure that the brush is loosening dirt from the grain. This is my second Miele canister. The first one was ruined by a housekeeper who ran it without a bag.
MOPPING A POLY COATED WOOD FLOOR
The word mopping conjures up visions of dripping string mops & buckets of soapy water. THIS IS NOT THAT!!!!
I highly recommend using Bona’s original cleaning formula with its basic mop. Here’s the whole system in a package on Amazon. There are other similar products offered by Bona but I am not a fan of scented cleaning products & their other, fancier mops that squirt, don’t allow me to clean as thoroughly as I would like, while protecting my floor. I also purchase several additional mop heads.
After I Swiffer & vacuum, I spray a section, starting at a far wall, about 6′ X 6′ with a little bit of Bona. I just mist it, really. Then I take my nice, clean dry Bona mop & going with the grain of the wood, I mop up the water. I get that floor dry. As I move from section to section, I check my mop head for dampness & dirt & change it for a fresh, clean, dry one at least every room. The purpose of the mop is to pick up the moisture & the dirt, not lay it down. I stick the mop heads in a plastic back as I go along. I don’t leave them on the floor. They then go in the washer & dryer with my other rags & are ready to go for next time.
Does all this sound too easy? Well, it is. Here are my only cautions:
1. Buy at least 6 extra mop heads.
2. Do not use a great deal of the cleaning fluid in any single area. If you have to spray it & wipe it again, so be it.
3. If you buy a gallon of the concentrated cleaner, do not make the mistake of using it without mixing it with the amount of water in the instructions. Ensure that your housekeeper understands this. I’m recalling now that I actually did get a call from one of our customers. Her floor was cloudy & sticky. Turned out her housekeeper used the fluid full strength instead of mixing it with water 7 to 1. For months! I told her to hide the bottle of concentrate & just rinse it a couple times every cleaning. This worked. She saw improvement with the first rinse.
4. Occasionally mop with just sprayed water. The Bona can leave a tiny amount of film that over time might become noticeable.
5. Keep an eye on your floor for the finish wearing in high traffic area. When you see finish wear, (loss of sheen) call your wood flooring company & ask them if it’s time for a re-coat of your high traffic areas. If you keep your floor coated, barring disaster such as deep scratches or water damage, you’ll never have to refinish it again. We are big on saving wood floors & like advise folks to keep them protected.
I recommend that you read all the articles in the WOOD FLOOR section so that you will have full understanding & appreciation from these gifts from Mother Nature.
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