Don’t Do These Things To Your Wood Floor
It’s an elegant installation, one that accentuates the décor, exuding style and grandeur. Wood floors bring a natural look and feel to the space, and are used across the board- from homes to business premises. They have a sturdy construction, one that sees them being the flooring of choice for high traffic establishments where durability of the material is a critical factor. A well-maintained wood floor will benefit the building and its occupants in multiple ways- from enhancing the ambience of the space, reducing sound reverberation, providing insulation and improving the energy efficacy of the building, all through to increasing the real estate value of the property. However, there are practices that can ruin your installation. These include:
- Using abrasives and harsh cleaners
In a bid to tackle those heavy dirt build-ups and stubborn stains, one may be tempted to turn to formulations like vinegar, ammonia, and similar solutions that are famed for their cleaning power. While they are effective on other surfaces, when it particular comes to wood floors, they are ill-advised. Acidic products will corrode the finish that has been applied, and if they get to the wood itself, will reduce the structural integrity of the material. Products used for other cleaning tasks in the household, from the dishwashing detergents, all-purpose cleaners, oil soaps, wax and silicone-based products- avoid these when working on the flooring. For the wax particularly, it leaves behind residue, thus worsening the situation.
- Using hard casters for the furniture
These cause localised wearing down of the floor. This is especially for the metal wheel casters, such as those of cast iron, forged steel, and ductile steel caster. They will degrade the flooring, which is not how you want things playing out. Opt for casters such as those that come with cushioned wheel threads- like the polyurethane on aluminium wheels. A thick layer of polyurethane coating the metal wheel material ensures that the surface that gets into contact with the floor will always be soft, while still being hard to the touch. This basically means that you won’t have to worry about sacrificing on the ease of rolling the furniture around the building, while still ensuring that the underlying flooring will not be put at risk. Neoprene rubber caster wheels are also an option. They are like the polyurethane alternative, but the main difference here is that for the neoprene rubber you get to purchase the wheels in different densities; basically, the rubber can be as hard or soft as you want, giving you more flexibility. In case it’s for light furniture- such as office chases, the nylon casters can work for most of the hardwood floors, since they are not as abrasive, and most are also polished- making them safe for the floor unless they have been put under a huge load. In fact, nylon casters are pretty common for the office chairs.
- Wet mopping or using steam mops
Water on the floor should be limited. Excess moisture content ruins the wood, since it is hygroscopic. This basically means that it will pick up moisture or dry out until it gets in equilibrium with the surrounding environment. This is seen during the expansion and contraction that occurs with the seasonal changes- which is normal for hardwood flooring. Moisture absorption when humidity is high causes the wood to swell, while moisture loss during the dry period causes it to contract. This is expected. However, sloshing wet mops onto the floor, and drenching it with cleaning solution during the mopping process, causes a dramatic increase in the moisture levels. More of it is absorbed, leading to increased risks of warping or cupping. This also applies to issues like pouring the cleaning product directly over the floor and allowing it to dwell for long. Some of the water may end up seeping through the seams and accumulating ion the subfloor, putting the installation at risk for a longer period. The mop being used should be wrung out until its damp, after which you can proceed to work on the floor. For steam mops on the other hand, the additional issue of high temperature causes the protective layers that have been applied on the floor to thermally break down over time. This exposes the underlying structure to damage, reducing its lifespan.
- Leaving stains untreated
Whether it is a coffee spill at the breakfast table, or Kitty has had a urine accident on the living room floor, ensure that you address the issue as soon as possible. The longer that the stain is allowed to remain on the surface, the worse things will get for the floor. If the spill or urine stain has occurred on a throw rug or area rug, ensure that the unit is cleaned- plus the wood floor underneath it, and only put the rug back in place after it dries.
- Dragging future and heavy appliances across the floor
The rule of the thumb is “Lift, don’t drag”. This is to avoid leaving unsightly marks on the floor, or gouging out sections of the fish that had been applied. In addition, it is recommended that you use products like felt pads on the furniture to protect the underlying flooring. For the chairs, tables and other sets that come with wheels, ensure that the casters are safe for the hardwood floor, such as those that come with polyurethane treads.
- Waiting too long between refinishing projects
Every wood floor eventually wears down. They aren’t invincible. Wear patterns on the frequently walked on areas, scratches all over the surface, dull sections where the finish has deteriorated- it is bound to occur. At this point, a refinishing is needed. There are also additional issues like cracking or gouges forming, where filling will be required. Here, floors sanding is carried out, to remove the old finish, and then a new one is applied. Putting this off indefinitely exposes your installation to more risk. With the protective coatings wearing off, the surface becomes more susceptible to deep scratches, permanent staining, and even water damage.