Prefinished hardwood flooring includes a factory-applied finish for enhanced protection and convenient installation. The hardwood flooring type requires regular maintenance to preserve its appearance and performance.
Proper care and cleaning maintain the aesthetic appeal of your prefinished hardwood floors. It also contributes to their longevity and value. There are best practices for maintaining your prefinished hardwood flooring.
Cleaning Products for Prefinished Hardwood Floors
Manufacturers often recommend using cleaning products designed for hardwood floors. Check with the manufacturer to see if they have a recommended cleaning product.
These products and solutions are ideal for prefinished hardwood floors:
- pH-neutral cleaners
- Diluted vinegar/baking soda/lemon solution
- Commercial hardwood floor cleaners
- Dust mop or soft-bristle broom
- Vacuum cleaner
- Microfiber cloth
- Lint-free cloths
Cleaning Methods for Prefinished Hardwood Floors
1. Damp Mopping
Damp mopping is a periodic deep-cleaning method for prefinished hardwood floors. Use a damp mop, a microfiber mop, or a manufacturer-approved hardwood floor cleaner. Avoid using a mop that’s too wet, as excessive moisture damages the wood.
Mop the floor toward the wood grain to prevent streaks and ensure thorough cleaning. If using a hardwood floor cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on dilution ratios and application methods.
Use pH-neutral Cleaners
Harsh or acidic cleaners damage wood by stripping away its finish. A damaged finish makes the floor susceptible to scratches and stains. pH-neutral cleaners have a balanced pH level suitable for prefinished hardwood floors. The neutral pH ensures the cleaner doesn’t damage or degrade the floor’s protective finish.
Avoid Excess Water
Prefinished hardwood floors are prone to warping and structural damage. Excess moisture causes the wood to warp, swell, or discolor. Clean up spills on impact using a soft cloth or paper towel. Avoid letting liquids sit on the floor for an extended period.
2. Weekly Dusting-Dry Cleaning
Regular Sweeping, Dusting, and Vacuuming techniques
Dirt, dust, and debris cause scratches on the floor. Keep a regular schedule for sweeping or dusting the floor. Make sure to clean the floor’s corners and the baseboards.
Use of Soft-bristle Brooms and Microfiber Mops
Pick a broom with soft, synthetic bristles designed for hardwood floors. Brooms with stiff or rough bristles scratch the floor’s surface. Mops with a removable and washable microfiber pad are easier to sanitize.
Allow the bristles to glide lightly over the surface to avoid scratching it. Focus on high-traffic areas and entryways where dirt tends to accumulate.
Address Spills and Stains Promptly
It’s important to clean spills or stains as soon as they occur. Prompt cleaning prevents them from seeping through the finish.
Blot the spill immediately with a soft, damp cloth or paper towel. If necessary, use a cleaning solution to clean the affected area. Rinse the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove residue and dry it.
3. Wet Mopping
Occasional wet mopping provides a deeper clean for prefinished hardwood floors. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to prevent water damage.
Here are some tips for wet mopping prefinished hardwood floors:
- Mop in the direction of the grain: Mop the floor in the wood grain’s direction to prevent streaks and ensure thorough cleaning.
- Work in sections: Divide the floor into manageable sections and mop one section at a time. It helps avoid leaving excess moisture on the floor for an extended period.
- Dry the floor: After mopping each section, use a dry microfiber cloth or mop to dry the surface. This removes the remaining moisture and prevents water from seeping into the wood.
- Ensure the room is ventilated: Open windows or use fans to promote air circulation, which helps the floor dry more quickly. Proper ventilation reduces the risk of moisture-related damage.
Maintenance of Finish and Appearance
Regular Inspection of the Finish for Signs of Wear
Examine the floor’s surface and look for wear, scratches, discoloration, or dullness. Pay attention to high-traffic areas, such as entryways and hallways, as they’re more prone to wear.
Use Protective Coatings and Refinishing Options
Protective coatings and refinishing maintain and restore the wood’s appearance. Coatings add an extra layer of protection to your existing finish. They guard the finish against scratches, stains, and general wear and tear.
The main finishes are oil-based, water-based, or polyurethane. The right finish varies depending on your preference, desired shine level, and drying time. Refinishing entails removing the old protective finish and applying a new one.
Depending on the extent of the wear, you could sand and recoat or do a full refinish. Full refinishing is best for extensive wear, scratches, or damage.
Sanding and recoating may be appropriate if the finish is pristine but shows signs of wear. It comprises light sanding and a new finish coat to revitalize the appearance.
Buffing and Polishing
Buffing and polishing remove surface imperfections, scratches, and dullness. It renews the surface and restores a polished appearance. Attach a clean, soft buffing or polishing pad to the machine.
Start buffing in one corner of the room and work across the floor. Buff the entire floor while focusing on areas with visible scratches or dullness. Check to ensure the surface is even. Next, apply a fresh finish coat to enhance the shine and protect the polished surface.
Address Minor Scratches and Dents
Fix minor scratches and dents on your floor using a touch-up kit. Touch-up kits include wood filler, putty sticks, wax pencils, and markers. Use wood filler or a putty stick to fill scratches and dents.
Get rid of the excess filler with a plastic scraper or putty knife and level the area. Use markers or pens to blend the floor color. Next, buff the repaired area with fine-grit sandpaper. Avoid over-buffing as it may damage the surface.
Dealing with Environmental Factors
Maintain Consistent Indoor Humidity Levels
Maintaining a consistent indoor humidity level controls the expansion or contraction of wood. Dry conditions cause the hardwood to dry out and shrink. A humidifier is helpful during dry seasons as it adds moisture to the air.
Wood absorbs excess moisture, which causes swelling. Use a dehumidifier in humid seasons or high-humidity areas to reduce moisture levels.
Address Direct Sunlight Exposure and UV Damage
Prolonged exposure of prefinished floors to direct sunlight causes fading and discoloration. Curtains, blinds, or UV-protective window films block sunlight from reaching the floor. Rotate rugs and furniture periodically to ensure even aging of the floor.
Prevent Water Damage and Humidity-related Issues
Place area rugs or mats in floor sections with high moisture levels, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. They absorb excess moisture and prevent it from reaching the hardwood floor.
Clean spills to prevent damaging the wood and finish. Avoid using wet mops or excessive water during regular cleaning.
Seasonal Considerations and Potential Impact on Flooring
Wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature. Slight gapping or cupping may occur during seasonal transitions. Check the floor for significant changes or issues, and consult a professional if necessary.