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Hardwood floor care and maintenance

July 20, 2005 11:17 AM EST | Interior Design | Email to Friend

Few floor coverings are as spectacular as a new hardwood floor. However, like any floor covering, it will eventually show signs of wear. The amount of wear, of course, will be proportional to the amount of traffic it receives. But don’t worry; you won’t have to replace that floor anytime soon. By simply taking a few preventive measures and maintaining a regular cleaning routine, the rate of wear can be significantly reduced.

Hardwood FloorBefore addressing the “dos and don’ts” of hardwood floor cleaning, let’s look at some ways to help preserve your floor’s newly-installed appearance.

  • Place breathable, dirt-catching mats at all room entrances

    Note: do not use mats with rubber or other non-porous backings

  • Use felt pads under furniture legs

  • Casters on furniture should be at least 1” wide, in good working condition, and kept clean of debris

  • Area rugs should be placed in high traffic areas, at stair landings and in front of sinks

    Note: as with entrance mats, do not use area rugs with non-porous backings

  • When moving furniture, lift it rather than dragging or pushing it

  • When moving exceptionally heavy furniture or appliances, make sure the floor is clean then cover it with a firm material, like 1/4” plywood, and use a dolly to move the heavy item.

  • Prevent ultraviolet (UV) fading by installing curtains or blinds, or applying window tint to block direct sunlight.

    Note: if these suggestions are not practical, it is recommended that you rearrange furniture and area rugs occasionally to evenly distribute the UV exposure

  • Do not walk on the floor with spike high heels, athletic cleats, taps, or any shoes with damaged heels

  • Keep pet’s claws trimmed

Another preventive measure you should take will help protect your floor against structural damage. Since all wood absorbs and releases moisture, it is recommended that you maintain your home’s humidity level between 35% and 55%. Depending on where you live, you may need to use a humidifier, dehumidifier, air conditioner, heater, or a combination these devices to get the desired result.

Cleaning a hardwood floor begins as it does with other smooth floor surfaces, but after that there are some important differences to be aware of. The following steps are provided as general guidelines and are not intended to be all inclusive. Refer to your flooring manufacturer for specific details and cleaning product recommendations.


  • Sweep or vacuum the floor regularly and whenever needed

    Note: if a vacuum cleaner is used, it must have a soft brush or felt head, and the wheels should be clean to prevent scratches

  • Only use a dry mop, like a Swiffer® or a hardwood floor mop with a swivel head and terry cloth cover

  • Use only floor cleaning products recommended by the flooring manufacturer

  • Clean up spills and tracked-in dirt immediately with a soft cloth and recommended cleaning product

  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar head

  • Do not mop the floor with water

  • Do not use oil soap, wax-based products, or household cleaners containing lemon oil, tung oil, or ammonia

    Note: refer to the flooring manufacturer for a complete list of products not to be used

Damage caused by non-approved products is not covered by warranty. So remember to always follow your flooring manufacturer’s floor care recommendations and instructions. This will not only protect your investment, but preserve the beauty of your hardwood floor for many years.

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