Hardwood Flooring Maintenance and Refining

Hardwood flooring Chicago require regular maintenance to extend their lifetime. There are many ways one can go about this, however it is best to be fully informed before cleaning hardwood. This way you can avoid the many mistakes and pitfalls people sometimes make that can really damage your floors and reduce their lifetime.

In this article you will learn how identify the finish of your floors, and using this information you can decide between several ways of cleaning, refinishing or waxing your floors. Each cleaning technique is outlined with specific instructions that should be followed as closely as possible in order to properly maintain your floors.

To begin, you must first define the finish of your floors. If you installed the floors yourself, either you or your contractor will know exactly what finish they are. If you do not know, read on.

Identifying the Finish

Most hardwood floors come in one of 2 finishes: prefinished and unfinished hardwood. To learn more about these 2 types of finishes, read the article on Prefinished vs. Unfinished Floors.

Prefinished Hardwood Floors are most commonly sealed at the surface to protect dirt and moisture from entering in and causing damage. To clean these floors, you cannot use any sort of oil or wax-based products or cleaners.

Prefinished floors are water-resistant and so the best way to care for them is to sweep and vacuum often, or use a water-and-soap solution to clean. A simple solution can be made using the following:

1. ¼ Cup of dishwashing soap
2. A Bucket full of water.

Simply mix them together in the bucket and use a mop to clean the floor. WARNING: Do not use a fully wet mop, make sure to wire out the water-and-soap solution just enough so the mop is damp, rather than wet.

Many people believe that rather than water-and-soap, a water-and-vinegar solution works better. This may seem true, however using vinegar comes with the risk of causing damage to the floor’s finish because of vinegar’s acidic nature. The best recommendation is to use a water-and-soap solution.

To clean scuff marks on prefinished hardwood floors, rub a bit of baking soda on to a damp sponge and buff the scratches away. To clean food stains and grease, ALWAYS use a commercial cleaner.

Unfinished Hardwood Floors require much more care when cleaning and maintaining them. Unfinished floors are finished and seal-treated onsite during the installation. They are also much more prone to moisture damage and so it is best to avoid water-based cleaning when dealing with them.

Over time, unfinished hardwood will see a lot of wax buildup which can both be damaging to the floor and make it look very dull. To clean and restore the floor’s original shine, use a stripper to remove old wax buildup. Always make sure to ask the hardwood’s manufacturer to recommend a commercial product that can do this.

The method for cleaning and waxing an unfinished floor is described below.

1. Vacuum, sweep or use a dry cleaner such as Swiffer to rid the hardwood of dust and other dirt.
2. Using a manufacturer-recommended product, strip the old wax buildup from the floor.
3. Make sure the entire hardwood area is well-ventilated to prevent dust and dirt from re-entering. Wait until the floor has dried before applying the wax.
4. Apply a thin coat of wax to the hardwood, making sure to evenly distribute it all across the floor.
5. Once again keeping the area well-ventilated, let the floor dry.
6. Lastly, apply the final coat of wax and let dry
7. Using either a cloth or buffing machine, buff the waxed hardwood floor.

For high-traffic areas, the floor should be waxed at least twice a year to extend its lifetime.

To take care of little problems such as scuff marks, use a steel wool pad and apply a very small amount of wax to the affected area. For food stains and grease, always use a commercial cleaner for unfinished hardwood.

5 Tips For Preserving Your Hardwood Floor

1. Make sure to sweep and vacuum often. If you have time in your day, it is recommended to sweep or vacuum your hardwood floors at least twice a day.
2. To reduce the amount of dust that can damage your hardwood, place a doormat at the entrance to the room.
3. If anything is ever dropped or spilled on your floors such as any sort of liquid or food, make sure to clean it immediately. Water can really damage hardwood if left untreated.
4. When placing a carpet on your floors, place an underpad to protect your floors from rug dyes and plastic backings from the carpet.
5. Always follow your hardwood manufacturer’s maintenance instructions carefully and ask questions if anything seems unclear.