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How to Make Your Hardwood Floors Last Longer

Hardwood floors make a stunning first impression, increase the value of your home and add warmth to any room. We know you want the beauty of your floors to last a long time without the need for refinishing, fixing or replacement, but we also recognize the challenge of cleaning and protecting hardwood.

Preventing damage to flooring is easy if you’re diligent and practice smart strategies. Start with these five tips to preserve the shine and prolong the life of every wood floor in your home.

Use the Right Cleaner

Before investing in a cleaner promising to restore shine and make wood floors glow, find out how it makes good on its promise. Many products rely on oils or waxes to provide shine. These produce an attractive effect but only serve to break down the finish of your floor over time, leading to the need for sanding and refinishing.

Instead of putting on a false shine, choose a cleaner formulated to remove dirt and reveal the natural beauty of the wood. Bona, Libman, Pledge, Method and other well-known names in home cleaning offer products just for hardwood. Choose a gentle, non-toxic formula, especially if you have pets or children who spend a lot of time in contact with the floor.

Develop a Regular Cleaning Regimen

Use your cleaner as part of a consistent routine designed to keep your hardwood flooring in top shape. Sweep up dirt and debris often to prevent scratches, and invest in a vacuum cleaner made for wood floors to lift the dirt brooms leave behind. Dry dust mops like Swiffer make it easier to reach into corners and grab dust bunnies under large pieces of furniture.

Keep a stash of soft cloths on hand to wipe up spills the moment they happen. Leaving water on the floor can lead to damage, and anything sticky will be difficult to remove if allowed to dry. Should an unidentifiable substance weld itself to your floor, spot clean with a minimal amount of liquid to remove it.

Mop the floor using a dry mop and your chosen cleaner to get rid of the rest of the dirt and grime. When you’re done, you should see the coveted shine for which hardwood floors are prized.

Say No to Shoes

Even if you’re obsessive about wiping your feet before heading indoors, your shoes are likely still holding onto dirt and debris. Routinely tracking these particles across wood floors can lead to scratches and scuffs in the finish. High heels are also problematic because the force focused on the concentrated surface of the heel can dent the wood.

To avoid both issues, remove your shoes the moment you come inside. Place a boot tray or rug by the door, and ask guests to help you preserve the floors by taking off their shoes when they visit. For a more attractive solution, consider investing in a bench with built-in storage cubbies for the shoes you wear most often.

Give Your Furniture a Soft Touch

Wood flooring looks great in the kitchen and dining area, but the constant scraping of chairs does no small amount of damage to the finish. Since you can’t expect everyone to remember to pick up their chairs instead of pushing them in or to maneuver themselves sideways to avoid pushing chairs back, invest in adhesive felt pads or gliders. These can be placed on the bottoms of kitchen chair legs or on the feet of small tables. You can also get more permanent gliders designed to be nailed in place so that they don’t slip off.

For larger furniture, consider snap-on felt glides. These not only protect your floors but also make moving couches and other big pieces easier when cleaning or rearranging.

Learn to Love Rugs and Mats

To protect wood flooring in high-traffic areas and in places where water or food is likely to be spilled, you need throw rugs, mats or runners. Put mats by the sink and near kitchen counters where the majority of food preparation takes place, and roll out runners in the places the family passes through the most. A welcome mat outside the door encourages everyone to wipe the bottoms of their shoes, and a small rug can be placed just inside to prevent errant dirt from winding up in the house. Remember to clean underneath all mats and rugs when caring for your floors to prevent debris from building up or backings from sticking.

Start practicing these preventative strategies the moment your new floors are installed, and you’ll enjoy beautiful hardwood for many years to come. If you’re ready to get started with an installation, contact one of our specialiststo learn more about your options and find just the right hardwood floors for your home.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors: DIY or Professional Help?

The great things about hardwood floors: they’re pleasing to the eye and very durable, meaning that if they start getting worn out, they probably don’t need to be replaced. All you need to do is refinish them in order to make them “pop” once more.

Now, we say “all you need to do”, but that should be taken with a word of caution. While it is possible to refinish your floors by yourself, experience is key here. A professional will know how to handle the process from start to finish, whereas someone who is inexperienced may skip some steps or do them improperly. A poor refinish can devalue your home rather than improve it!

A pro can take anywhere from two to five days to complete the task, adding time for complex jobs or poor weather that interferes with drying times. They will typically do one of two things: 1) they will rebuff the finish, or 2) they will sand and finish the floor. The downside to hiring a professional is, of course, the cost. Either of these two jobs can cost you anywhere between $1 and $4 per square foot of floor that needs to be done.

If you don’t want to shell out the money for a pro and you are supremely confident in your DIY ability, here’s what you can do to save some cash.

First of all, make sure you’ve purchased some high-quality dust masks or respirators. You will also need eye and ear protection (this process is messy and loud!). You can seal off doors and other rooms with plastic sheeting to prevent dust from escaping to other parts of the home.

If you’re going to buff the floor, you will need to rent a buffer and purchase about a gallon of floor finish. Make sure you test the buffer and the finish before committing to doing the whole area! Find a small, inconspicuous spot, buff out the old finish, then apply the new one. If it sticks, you’re in good shape.

If your intention is to sand and refinish the floor yourself, you’ll need to rent a drum sander and buy sandpaper, wood filler, and floor finish. We do not recommend using a drum sander unless you know what you’re doing with it, due to its tendency to gouge the floor if left in one spot for too long. Use progressively smaller grains of sandpaper as you go to get a nice, smooth surface.

Be smart about this process! We can’t emphasize enough that this is a job for somebody that at least has experience, if not formal job training. If you aren’t certain of your own ability, it is a lot cheaper to hire a pro than it is to have to redo everything after a mistake. Good luck!

-Kelly Dillon

Vacuuming 101

Plug it in. Turn it on. Vacuuming is really that easy, right?

Well, there might be just a bit more finesse to this routine chore including how, exactly, to vacuum those tricky shag rugs and how to get the perfect W cutline.

Check out this video to give you the inside scoop and become a vacuuming pro!