You have taken the plunge and now you are a homeowner. The contractors have left and your home is gleaming with shiny hardwood floors, new appliances and fresh landscape. Are you overwhelmed? Well you are not alone, most new homeowners feel the same way. Do not fret, I am here to share with you some useful tips to keep your floors shining like new. Your investment in solid hardwood floors can last a lifetime if cared for properly. More on that later.
The first step in proper floor care is to know if your wood floors have been finished with a coating of polyurethane or wax. Most commonly in new homes today you will find a polyurethane finish.
How to Tell if Your Floor is Treated with Wax or Polyurethane?
To determine which finish type you have rub your finger across the floor and see if a smudge appears. Chances are if a smudge appears the floor has been treated with wax.
On the other hand, if you run your hand across the hardwood floor and it feels smooth then chances are the floors have been treated with a polyurethane. Polyurethanes provide a protective coating to the floors.
How Do I Clean My Waxed Wood Floors?
As you probably already know, wax and water do not mix. With fine furniture you never place a glass on the surface without a coaster. Why not? Because then you get the dreaded white ring which is difficult to eliminate once present. The same is true with waxed wood floors, any standing water will wreak havoc with the finish.
How to Keep My Waxed Floors looking Great
How to Keep My Waxed Floors Looking Great?
When waxed wood floors have lost their luster it is time for the floors to be rejuvenated. This is typically done by a professional. First the hardwood floor is cleaned with steel wool. Then the floor is prepared by removing excess wax with a renovator and a buffing machine. Wax is then applied to the floor and buffed out with pads to create a low luster sheen.
Waxed floors on a weekly basis are cleaned as needed by just vacuuming and dry mopping. If a spill happens, it should be cleaned up promptly.
How Do I Clean My Hardwood Floors That Have Polyurethane?
Wood floors that have been treated with polyurethane are easy to clean. After the floors have been cleared of dirt and debris using a vacuum or broom the floor is ready to be washed. Wood floors can be washed using a gentle detergent and water (not what I prefer) but I caution, standing water will damage your wood floors. I have been in countless home with water damaged wood floors but more on that in another post.
The best way, I have found, to clean hardwood floors is with Bona Wood Floor Cleaner (Not Polish!). The Bona Wood Floor Cleaning Kit comes with a mop, a microfiber cleaning pad and a spray bottle of the Bona Wood Floor Cleaning Solution. To clean your floor it is as simple as spray and wipe with the mop. If you have tough spots you may need to use elbow grease or get down on your hands and knees to scrub the dirt or grime.
Check out my video below for my tutorial on cleaning your hardwood floors.
What if My Polyurethane Floors Have Lost their Shine?
With wear and tear wood floors can lose their shine and even have surface scratches. This is common in the high traffic areas like a foyer, kitchen or family room. Over time, what happens is the top protective layer of finish will wear down. This in turn leaves the wood more vulnerable to scratches and floors can dull. Sometimes the floors just needs a buffing or screening followed by a coating of polyurethane. This surface treatment will add luster and life to floors and can help prolong the length of time between a full sanding or refinishing of your wood floors. The key is to have your floors buffed and coated before they get deep scratches or too worn.
In some cases wood floors need to be sanded and refinished. I find this service is needed when there are deep scratches and heavy wear on the floors. The refinishing process involves using different grits of sand paper to remove any old finish, scratches and/or embedded dirt within the wood floor. After the hardwood is completely sanded a rotary screening is completed to ensure a smooth surface. The floor is then vacuumed, and tacked to remove any dust, prior to stain or finishing with polyurethane.
The key to Wood Floor Longevity is Protection
The best way to maintain the beauty and sparkle of your new wood floors is a few simple steps.
1. Always put felt pads on your furniture to prevent scratches to your floors.
2. Never wet mop your floor. Standing water will damage wood floors.
3. Clean up dirt and debris daily.
4. Walk off mats at doorways will minimize foot traffic dirt being tracked into your home.
5. No high heel policy. High heels can damage your floors, more on that in another post.
6. Use Bona Wood Floor Cleaner on your polyurethane treated wood floors. Never use products that contain wax or silicone which can dull the finish on your floors and prevent the polyurethane from adhering with future coatings. Always read the product label but some to avoid are Murphy’s Oil soap, Endust, and Mop and Glow.