Causes Of Wood Floor Damage And What You Can Do About It
Due to their durability, wood floors provide some of the longest service lives compared with other flooring materials. If cared for properly, they can last for decades, with there being situations where buildings have had the same wood floor for a century. The longevity of the units is tied to the type of wood species and specifically how much effort is put in their care and maintenance. Let’s look at some of the threats that wood floor faces.
Wood and water simply don’t mix. Hardwood is sensitive to variations in moisture with its surrounding. Its hygroscopic nature causes it to gain or lose moisture when the humidity around it is low and high respectively. Cases that cause a steep moisture gradient – ranging from mopping with excess water or spills, to cases where there is a flooding incident in the house, causes there to be a dramatic increase in the moisture content of the wood, which puts its structural integrity at risk. Even the seasonal changes with the temperature and humidity causes there to be cyclic expansion and contraction of the wood. Here, gaps will be formed, and they may become permanent over time due to structural changes in the boards that are adjacent to each other. If the wood floor wasn’t installed properly, including allowing sufficient expansion gaps, or the planks themselves were not properly acclimated before being hammered into place, then the damage will be more extensive.
- Soiled shoes
As people walk into the house, they come tracking in dirt from the outdoors under the soles of their shoes. This is why it is highly recommended that you place a mat at the entryway into the home to catch most of the soiling before it gets to the open floor space. Here, the abrasive debris is grinded against the floor, gradually wearing down the finish coats and getting to the bare wood. Those highly trafficked areas will have higher levels wear, and will be visibly different compared to the rest of the flooring, such as the sections under the tables and sofas.
It is recommended that you stop allowing the household members to walk into the house with outdoor footwear. A shoe rack placed by the door, with a couple of pairs of slippers or indoor sandals, will encourage them to make the change when they enter the house. This goes a long way in reducing the amount of time that winds up on the floor.
- Heavy appliances and furniture
Here, the problem comes in when they are dragged across the surface. Pushing that sofa, bookshelf or even fridge across the floor, instead of lifting and carrying it, causes it to scratch the surface, even making a dent in the process. There can even be minor marks left on that recliner that looks stationary, due to the frequent tiny movements that are made over time as people sit on it. Having furniture glides in place helps in preventing the scratches on the unit.
In addition to scratches and the threat of water damage, spills also leave behind stains on the wood floor, and depending on the pH of the liquids involved they can corrode or dull the finish. Those patches that are formed on the floor are unsightly, and it’s imperative that you attend to the spill as soon as possible, cleaning it up in order to prevent the wood floor from soaking up lots of the liquids. Over the years, there will be occasional spills that aren’t got to in time, giving them enough time to penetrate into the wood tissue. Don’t fret. These can be removed during the floor sanding and refinishing that will be carried out.
Do you have young kids in the house? As they play with their toy cars and trains, these can easily scratch the floor. Sure, the toys are light, but in the heat of the game with the kids caught up in the moment, the intensity with which they manoeuvre the toys can result in damage to the underlying wood.
During the routine cleaning, there are some things that you should avoid using. For starters, abrasives like scrub pads that are used when scrubbing away the grime deposits on the BBQ grill will scratch the wood surface. Vinegar, a popular DIY cleaning agent when removing stains on countertops and other surfaces in the household, will eat away at the glossy finish on the floor, reducing its protection. Using a mop that has been soaked in water is also problematic due to the risk of water damage, hence the mop should be wrung out before use.
When the finish coats wear down, calling in the floor sanding professionals to give your installation a fresh start. Here, powerful sanders are used to grind away those old coats, exposing the bare wood. The surface is smoothened, and imperfections like gaps are also dealt with using filler products. New wood stain and lacquer coats can then be applied. The products used here will depend on your aesthetic need, as well as the durability requirements of the floor. For instance, if it’s a busy home with kids and pets, it is recommended that you go for the finish products that have been developed for use in medium to high traffic environments.
For the restoration process to be effective, the floor sanding needs to be done to quality standards. Note that any imperfection here, from those tiny scratches to uneven surfaces, will be highlighted further when the finish coats are applied. At this stage, the only measure that can be taken is carrying out another round of floor sanding to rectify the issue. As such, you’re better off getting a professional to come in and handle the floor sanding. With this route, you also get to avoid the risks that come with DIY process, and the hassle of sweating it out for days in dust-filled rooms. With high-capacity machinery and sufficient personnel to carry out the task, professional floor sanding companies are in a position to complete the job within a fraction of the time that a DIYer would take.