Why Wood Floors Deteriorate Over Time
They are touted to be highly durable – so what causes them to wear out and lose their charm as the years go by? What’s more, with the wood furniture and wood floorings being essentially made of similar materials, why does the latter have a higher rate of deterioration? Let’s look at the different kinds of damages that are witnessed, and what causes them.
- Scratch and scuff marks
They can be caused by different issues. Anything from working with a traditional broom when sweeping the floor and debris from the outdoors that is bought in under people’s shoes, to cats and dogs running around the household with their claws drawn out – they can result in scratches and scuff marks being formed on the floorboards. When moving the furniture or heavy appliances, a simple oversight like dragging them across the floor as opposed to lifting and carrying them will leave marks on the surface.
These are minor damages and not something to pull your hair out over. In fact, they are virtually unavoidable, and even with the strongest finish products being applied, there will be bound to get scratches showing up over time. The setup of the household also matters especially in determining how fast the scratches pop up. For instance, without welcome mats at the entry of the building, there will be more outside debris getting into the residence, meaning more abrasive effects on the floor, and a greater extent of scratches being formed. Failing to have furniture pads also contributes to this, especially with the units that are moved frequently like the dining sets. One or two scratches can be ignored, but when they become too much then a round of floor sanding and refinishing is required.
The leading case of stains is definitely the liquids that spill on the floor – from beverages like coffee and tea, wine, ink blots, to issues like blood spots when a household member has a cut or nick, plus cases of nail polish dripping on the floor especially when one is doing their nails in a hurry. Pet urine stains also factor in, for the household with cats or dogs that have yet to be properly trained. The pet stains can also be attributed to behavioural problems likes separation anxiety, health issues and age. It’s imperative that the spills are cleaned up immediately, as the longer you wait the more difficult they will be to clean up.
Here, the elegant finish that has been applied becomes dull, or the wood itself fades due to chemicals that react with it, or as a result of the sun’s radiation. Ammonia-based cleaners in particular are notorious for causing wood floors to become dull.
Everyday traffic can also cause the floor to lose its sheen over time, especially in areas that witness high traffic levels – which is why it is important to use treatment products that match the level of use that is witnessed in the building. Photosensitivity comes in due to the sun’s effects on the floors, and this can be seen in areas like the floorboards that are close to the windows.
With a floor sanding and refinishing, you will be able to have the old coats removed from the installation, and give your floor a new lease of life. The number of times that this can be done will depend on the thickness of the wear layer. Generally, solid wood flooring can be sanded even seven times, while engineered wood flooring can be taken through 2-3 sanding cycles. Note that this also depends on how much of the wood tissue is taken off during each floor sanding. Oversanding is one of the problems that is witnessed during the DIY projects, and this reduces the number of times that the sanding can be carried out in future.
- Cracks and chips
For cracks, the main cause is usually the pressures seen when nailing the floorboards in place. For chips and the occasional dent on the floor, this can occur when heavy objects are dropped onto it. Floor sanding can get rid of these to restore a smooth surface. The dust that is generated while this is being carried out can be mixed with a filler agent and the resultant paste placed in the gaps.
- Warping and buckling
These occurrences are attributed to the changes that occur in the wood due to extreme moisture and temperature conditions. For instance, on exposure to too much water, such as in cases of flooding or cases where there was a leakage that went unresolved for a while, then more water will be absorbed by the wood tissue, causing it to expand and warp or buckle.
- Cupping and crowning
These are also attributed to water damage. For cupping, the edges of the floorboards rise higher than the centre, and for crowning the centre is elevated higher than the edges. Note that the moisture issue will need to be addressed and the floor allowed to stabilise before any attempt at floor sanding is made to even out the surface.
For the gaps that show up with the seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood, these are not a cause for alarm. However, abnormally wide gaps are typically a sign of oversights made during the installation stage. For instance, the floorboards may not have been allowed to acclimate well, or they were already excessively wet when they were being installed. As such, when they dry, the resultant gap will be larger.
Beware of the infamous termite. If the floorboards do not receive treatment to protect them from the termites, these creatures can eat right through the wood pulp, destroying the very structure of the unit. An infestation can wreak havoc on your unit, and this will need the pest control team to be called in to effectively deal with it. Note that the damage from terminates can be so severe that by the time the termite infestation is removed, the wood floor has been compromised, and the affected boards will need to be replaced.