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Keep Your Hardwood Floors Looking Their Best with These 15 Hacks

When it comes to flooring, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that is as timeless or attractive as hardwood. Although it’s among the most durable flooring options around, a hardwood floor of even the utmost quality requires regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. At Classic Floor Designs, we have lots of tricks for keeping hardwood floors looking like new. Check out 15 especially useful tips below.

1. Routine Cleaning

One of the best ways to keep a hardwood floor looking terrific is by simply keeping it as clear of dust and other debris as possible. Once or twice a week, thoroughly sweep the floor with a regular broom and then go over it again with a microfiber duster.

2. Take Care with Water

Water and wood don’t mix. When mopping your floor, use a lightly damp mop—not a soaking wet one. Never allow water to sit on your floor for extended periods of time.

3. Ward Off Dings and Scratches

Even the toughest hardwood floor can get pitted and scratched over time. Minimize this by having a shoes-off policy in your home. If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed. Keep felt pads under furniture legs. Whenever possible, lift and carry furniture instead of pushing or dragging it.

4. Act Quickly

When spills and other mishaps occur, act quickly. Sop up excess liquid right away, and then apply a floor cleaner that is specially formulated for the surface with a soft cloth. Have these supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice.

5. Eliminate Dents

Despite your best efforts, your hardwood floors may develop dents from time to time. Repair them by wetting the spot and then laying a dampened cloth over it. Rub a clothes iron on the high setting over the cloth in circular motions until the dent is gone.

6. Wipe Away Marker Stains

If permanent marker ends up on your floor, don’t despair. Both toothpaste and cologne work wonders for eliminating even the toughest marker stains. Gently apply either to the spot with a soft, dry cloth, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

7. Clean Up Scuffs with Melamine Foam

Melamine foam, which is popularly known as Magic Eraser, works incredibly well at wiping away scuffs and other marks. Generic melamine foam is very affordable, so stock up to ensure that you can clean up stubborn marks when necessary.

8. Say Goodbye to Urine Stains

In addition to being unsightly, urine stains give hardwood floors unpleasant odors. Eliminate even old urine stains by pouring hydrogen peroxide directly onto the spot. Cover it with a hydrogen peroxide soaked cloth, and then cover that with plastic. Let it sit overnight, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

9. Use Kitchen Items to Clean Big Marks

If you think that you need heavy-duty cleaner to eliminate that big, stubborn mark, think again. Mix equal parts canola oil and white vinegar, rub it on and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.

10. Restore a Fading Floor

If your hardwood flooring is less bright and vibrant than it used to be, a little lemon oil should do the trick. Rub down the entire floor with it and allow it to dry. You’ll be amazed by how much better it looks!

11. Bid Adieu to Scratches

Are your hardwood floors riddled with scratches? It’s nothing a little steel wool and sandpaper can’t help. For light scratches, use fine steel wool to gently work them away. Use lightweight sandpaper on deeper scratches. In both cases, finish up by rubbing mineral spirits in to smooth the surface.

12. Take Care of Cracks

During the winter, it’s not unusual for cracks to appear in hardwood. Wood expands when it’s warm and humid and shrinks when it’s cold and dry. The cracks should go away when warm, moist weather returns, but you can always run a humidifier to resolve it any time of year.

13. Clean Up Tape Residue

Sticky residue from tape, stickers and the like can be easily and gently cleaned away. Combine two tablespoons baking soda with 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of water. Spread the paste onto the residue, allow it to dry and then rub it away with a damp cloth.

14. Make a Natural Floor Cleaner

Clean your floors naturally and restore their sheen with black tea. Brew some up, dampen a clean cloth with it and wipe down your floors. The polyphenolic compounds in the tea inhibit microbial growth, so your floors will stay clean longer. The tannins in the tea add a lovely sheen.

15. De-Squeak Your Floor

Finally, if your floors look fine but sound terrible, there’s an easy way to eliminate squeaks. Use a paintbrush to work baby powder in between the floor joints. You can also use powdered graphite, which comes in a tube, to accomplish the same thing.

There you have it! By keeping these tips in mind, your hardwood flooring will continue to look as good as new for years to come. Check back with Classic Floor Designs for more helpful tips in the future!

Photo Credit: C. VanHook (vanhookc) Flickr via Compfight cc

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring enhances the appearance of any room in your home, but these rugged surfaces represent a big investment. Like any investment, you want to be sure that you get the highest returns possible. When it comes to flooring, proper cleaning of hardwood determines your ability to enjoy their beauty for many years without worrying about damage or repairs.

Here at Classic Floor Designs, we recommend a regular cleaning regimen to maintain the original appearance of your hardwood floors. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what products to use, what methods to avoid and how often to clean. We hope that these tips will help clear up any confusion and guide you in preserving the floors you love.

Know Your Floor Type
There are two types of wood flooring: solid and engineered. Both offer the beautiful appearance that makes hardwood so attractive, but the materials differ slightly when it comes to routine cleaning and long-term care.

Solid floors are made from single pieces of hardwood that are generally about three-quarters of an inch thick. Most come finished with a protective coating that creates a reflective “high gloss” look. Solid wood is available in many common and exotic varieties that can be sanded and refinished up to ten times over the life of the floor.

Engineered flooring is pieced together from three to five layers of high- or medium-density fiberboard with a thin hardwood veneer on top. Because of the minimal amount of hardwood used, these floors can only undergo one to two rounds of refinishing. However, they tend to be more durable than solid floors when it comes to handling high foot traffic and varying levels of humidity.

Invest in Mats and Rugs
Preventative maintenance cuts down on the amount of dirt and grime that comes in contact with your floors. Place a heavy-duty mat outside your front door for people to wipe their shoes on, and position another mat just inside the threshold. Have visitors and family members remove their shoes before stepping inside. Use a boot or shoe tray to keep footwear organized and away from the wood surface.

Area rugs are perfect for high-traffic spots or rooms where kids spend a lot of time. Rugs keep messes off the floor and are generally easier to clean than the wood itself. Use rugs with backings to reduce the risk of slipping, but make sure that the backing material is something that won’t damage the floor.

Grab a Broom
Quick cleaning on a daily, bi-weekly or weekly basis can be done using a soft-bristled broom and a dustpan. This removes superficial dirt before it becomes ingrained in the floor surface. Small brooms and handheld vacuums are useful for cleaning in corners. To get rid of even more dust and debris, try a sweeper that uses electrostatic dust cloths. Pay special attention to areas where dirt is most likely to build up, such as the kitchen, the front hallway and the bathroom.

Take Care With the Vacuum Cleaner
Opinions differ on how often you should vacuum hardwood floors. For high-traffic areas, daily vacuuming may be necessary to remove deeper dirt. In other rooms, bi-weekly or weekly vacuuming should suffice.

One thing that everyone agrees on is to never use a beater bar. The harsh bristles can damage the finish and leave it looking dull. Instead, use the hardwood floor setting or a floor brush attachment to lift away dirt. Electric brooms are also gentle enough to use for frequent cleaning. Don’t be tempted by the “deeper clean” that floor buffers claim to offer. The abrasive pads can ruin the surface of the wood.

Be Smart About Deep Cleaning
Even with preventative maintenance and routine cleaning, wood flooring still winds up with grime, oil and stubborn dirt on its surface. That’s why it’s important to clean the floor more aggressively once or twice a year. However, you have to use the correct kind of cleaning products and tools. Your goal should be to leave no standing water at all and avoid harsh substances that can scratch or dull the finish.

The best cleaning solutions are mild and include mixtures of dish soap and water; a solution of water, olive oil and lemon juice; hot water and borax; and lukewarm black tea. Apply your chosen cleaner using a damp mop by dipping the mop into the solution and wringing it out until it’s almost dry. Finish off by buffing the floor with a towel. Alternatively, you can place the cleaner in a spray bottle and mist the floor as you go.

Never use any of the following cleaning methods or solutions on a wood floor:

• Wet mopping
• Steam cleaning
• Vinegar solutions
• Ammonia-based cleaners
• Furniture polish
• Wax- or oil-based cleaners

All of these can cause damage or result in slick floors that pose a hazard to you and your family.

Spot Cleaning
Diligence in regular cleaning will prevent the most serious messes, but it’s impossible to completely avoid scuffs, marks and spots. If you discover any blemishes on your wood floor, sprinkle the area with baking soda and clean it with a damp sponge. The dirt should lift right off.

Drips, spills, sticky streaks and food that can dry onto the floor should be cleaned up immediately. If you miss something and find an unidentifiable substance stuck to the wood, use a cleaner formulated to remove tough dirt and wipe with a gentle cloth. Deep stains and spots may require sanding and refinishing to remove.

Following these tips may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort when it comes to maintaining your hardwood floors. As you begin to incorporate each step into your regular cleaning regimen, you’ll see the true beauty of the wood begin to shine through. All it takes to continue enjoying that beauty is to devote a little extra time each day to proper floor care. In our opinion, it’s time well spent.

 

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/38906013@N05/3577027339/”>Revolution Mills</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a>

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

Four Ways to Protect Your Floors This Winter

Winter brings harsh weather and with all that ice, snow and rain, our floors can take a beating.
Following these four guidelines will help keep your floors in great shape all the way through the season.

  • Line of Defense #1: Keep walkways and driveways clear of snow, ice and debris. The less there is to track in, the less there will be in the house.
  • Line of Defense #2: Invest in a good doormat. A mat with enough friction will remove sand, dirt and salt from guests’ and family members’ shoes. This has the added benefit of keeping your doorways dry and safe.
  • Line of Defense #3: Remove shoes. Even better than simply wiping feet is taking off all shoes at the door. A nice basket or bin can keep footwear organized.
  • Line of Defense #4: Vacuum and sweep floors regularly. It is unavoidable. Some dirt, salt and sand will inevitably be tracked into the house. Being diligent with cleaning will preserve the floor.