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How to Take Care of Old Hardwood Floors

Featured image for "How to Take Care of Old Hardwood Floors" blog post. Kitchen with hardwood floor.

The natural beauty of hardwood flooring is just unparalleled. If maintained properly, this wonderful flooring can remain in good condition, pleasing to the eyes for decades. Therefore, one of the worst occurrences in the flooring realm is finding scratches and dents in your brand new planks. It only takes a little know-how about how to take care of old hardwood floors to maintain glistening, flawless flooring in your home. From protecting your floors to removing spots and stains, these tips will surely help you in keeping your beloved hardwood flooring beautiful for years to come.

The To-Do List for Taking Care of Hardwood Floors

It’s always a good idea to invest in a high-quality dust mop that will keep all of the dirt and other particles off of your floor. Any solid we may accidentally sweep around on the surface could scrape or gouge the flooring. Avoid using rotary brushes at all costs, as these could permanently scratch your flooring. The Champion Old Fashioned Dust Mop is a wonderful tool for keeping that cedar floor looking beautiful.

Using a light mist of water diluted with a small amount of the Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser, then cleaning it with the Super Yellow Mop works great. It removes grime and of course grease residue. It can make a huge improvement in cleaning your kitchen areas. The solution works great on vinyl, tile, and other floor types in the home as well.

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Make sure to keep a rug or doormat in front of all of the entrances to your house. This will ensure that any visitors have the chance to wipe off any unwanted particles from their shoes before bringing them inside onto your precious flooring. It can help catch some of the mud or water from the feet of our pets when the dog walks in the door after an adventure too. These rugs and mats are perfect to help protect wood flooring and are especially important to utilize during the winter months. Snow melting near the door all winter could ruin the wood.

Keep on top of wiping up any dirt that may accumulate or any water/pet accidents as quickly as possible. A soft, high-quality wet mop is best for these scenarios as it will not scratch your floor. This is great maintenance for your floor, to keep things off of the surface that could damage the gorgeous finish. Scrubbing can also lead to scratches and loss of shine. Keep the grime out of the groove of that hardwood to keep it from looking dirty and dull. Don’t use an abrasive scrubber while you’re doing it or it may end up looking even worse than before you started.

Smooth hardwood planks.
Make sure to keep any sharp objects away from your hardwood flooring in order to keep it as pristine as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is definitely helpful to have on hand a high-performance hardwood floor cleaner. Vinegar can often be used to get the job done as well in a pinch. This option involves mixing water with vinegar in small amounts. Let your floor air dry, and when complete, you will be left with a streak-free and odorless hardwood floor! Anyone can learn how to take care of old hardwood floors. It’s really not that bad.

It would be wise to add some felt floor protectors to the bottom of sofa legs, chair legs, TV stands, and other movable furniture to prevent them from scratching and damaging your hardwood planks. Keep in mind that scratches are the enemy here, so please refrain from dragging heavy items across your flooring. It could take off the finish and leave a deep groove across the floor. Don’t wear cleats or shoes with spiked heels when walking on your hardwood flooring either since these are definitely scratches waiting to happen.

How to take care of old hardwood floors: environment may affect them more than the cleaning

There are many different ways to clean a floor but using minimal water is always a given with wood. Mopping it too much or leaving the floor too wet after cleaning it can really damage the wood.  Cleaning an old oak parquet floor could be a challenge. The perfect mosaic design of little planks is truly awesome but you can’t let it get too damp. We could be doing everything right but if the environment in the house is too dry or too humid it could really damage the wood floors.

Hardwood floor planks that are exposed to excess moisture will definitely expand. Keeping the overall humidity level stable can prevent the wood from swelling up as much and can help prevent the gaps in the floorboards from closing. A humidity level kept in the 35-50% range is ideal for homes with hardwood floors. Wood has different reactions to its environment just like everything else does. Keeping the humidity controlled in the house is also healthier for the people living in the home.

Low humidity levels can also be quite unhealthy for people. This dry low moisture air can cause lots of breathing problems. Allergies and asthma could flare up in these conditions. This dry, warm air can also cause the flooring planks to lose moisture and make them shrink up a bit. Spaces can appear between the floorboards. This is normal because when the air becomes humid the dry cracks will close as the wood starts to expand again. Programmable humidifiers can work extremely well to help keep the humidity stable in the home.

Yellow Mop Easy Mopping Easy Wringing.

High humidity levels in a home can be harmful to people inside as well. Moist, damp air can be perfect for nasty things like bacteria, viruses, and even mold to grow. Dehumidifiers can help remove some of the moisture in the air.  Over time extreme conditions can stress your hardwood to the point of cracking or damage.

The boards can splinter or split apart and expose the wood to further damage them. Once the finish on the floor has cracked the wood flooring is no longer being protected from moisture. Keeping the humidity level stable can keep your flooring looking beautiful and keep your family breathing easily at the same time.

Leaving some free expansion space around the floor allows for the wood to expand and contract based on conditions. Usually, baseboards along the edges of the wall are used to cover the open spaces left. Measuring your home’s temperature and relative humidity levels is a huge part of how to take care of old hardwood floors. Keeping these things properly regulated is one of the best ways to keep the floorboards from extreme expansion and contraction.

Smooth hardwood floor.
Keeping harmful toxins off of your floors will help them look their best! Natural, eco-friendly cleaners are the way to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making old wood floors look brand new

Keeping to a budget is always a big part of any home project. The cost to have a floor refinished can be about $1500.00 or more. You could save yourself a lot on labor if you find someone to do the entire job for a set price. Prices for labor can vary and lots of pros charge by the square foot of space they are working on. They can complete about one hundred square feet of area in about five hours. That could be way better than a DIY job that could take days to complete. Refinishing is just what you need to rejuvenate the rooms.

Renting the sanders to do the work and buying the polyurethane to coat the floor could be cheaper. This means you will have to do the work on your own. Just remember you will have to pay the pros up to $5 per foot to handle it for you. If you opt for new floors those will cost more than $5 per square foot to install.

DIRTY FLOORS NO MORE.

Our decision to restore and refinish the floors on our own would prove to be some dusty work but we were committed to the project. We had to clear out the dining room area that we were focusing on entirely and remove all contents including the table and furniture. We enclosed the area with tarps hung in the doorways to keep the dust from escaping into the rest of the house as much as possible. There is carpet on the stairs leading into the next room so we tried to protect it as much as we could.

We knew it was going to get very dusty very quickly. I didn’t want that residue all over the house. We had to use breathing protection to keep us from breathing in the nasty particles. We also kept the window open to try to keep it as ventilated as possible while we worked.

Next, we rented some sanders to sand the floorboards smoothly. My brother used the large drum sander first since so much needed to be taken off of such a big area. It really took off a good layer. Next, we used palm and belt sanders to smooth it all up. Then I used the vacuum to remove all of the dust. We finished up cleaning the excess dust off of the surface with dry rags.

Any cracks or damaged spots had to be filled with some wood putty. We let that dry completely. Then we used the orbital finishing sander to sand it a second time. We cleaned up all of the dust completely for a second time. If you wanted to add a stain to the floor this would be the time. We left ours natural. After the stain dries (if you applied any) you can move on to the polyurethane coating.

To seal the floor we put on a thin and even coat of polyurethane then let that dry. It smells awful but looked great. Next, the whole floor had to be sanded one more time with 100grit sandpaper. We cleaned up the dust and then added another coat. The floors looked shiny and brand new. If you feel you need more coats just be sure to let each one dry completely before starting the next coat. Having wood floors improves the market value in the house. It was worth it.

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Buffing wax into the grain of the wood will help protect it. Its is a more gentle way of caring for your floor than polishing. It’s better at protecting the floorboards from dirt and water than polishing as well. It leaves floors with a smooth, bright finish. It will help keep the boards dry in case of leaks or spills that could get moisture into the boards.

Original flooring in most older homes usually falls into one of two categories: wide plank floor or strip floor. Very old buildings have a lot of wide plank floors. Wide plank floors are built with boards that are eight inches or more in width. Wide plank boards for wood flooring can be reclaimed from old buildings. Material from these structures can be used for new floors. It is a rustic flooring style that kind of accents flaws rather than hiding them. The visible nail holes, cracks and different knots just add to the floor’s style. Boards and siding from old barns can be reclaimed and transformed into beautiful hardwood floors.

Pine floor planks require a gentle touch and a little extra care. You must seal old pine properly and reseal it every few years. It is a very soft wood. Every time it is sanded it takes away more of the life of the wood. Pine sands deeply each time. At least three coats of polyurethane should be applied for a good protective layer. Sand your pine boards carefully and don’t be shy with the sealing. It’s just more delicate than other wood flooring.

As innovations over time allowed for easier and faster processing of wood, these planks could be produced in smaller, more uniform sizes. Boards could be cut more precisely and made to fit together much better. This led the way for strip floors. Strip floors are constructed with smaller boards that are usually about two to four inches wide. Strip flooring in most older buildings was usually saved for the nicer areas of the house. Newer or fancier buildings usually used more strip flooring.

Kitchen with hardwood flooring.
Hardwood flooring is an excellent visual accent to modern kitchens, not to mention they feel great to walk across!

The “What-Not-To-Do” List

One of the most important keys to taking care of your hardwood floors starts right with the installation. Don’t attempt to install any of your hardwood flooring planks before they have had a chance to acclimate to your home environment. The reason for this is that throughout the fluctuations in temperature that most likely occur in your home, the planks will slightly expand or shrink. The development of structural damage or buckling could occur as well if they are installed pre-acclimation, so make sure to give your planks a night or two inside first before installing.

Never use a steam mop to clean hardwood floors. Hot water shouldn’t be used. The heat and the excessive moisture can break down the protective layer on the flooring. This could cause the boards to stain or warp. Pouring liquid or cleaner right onto the floor can also stain. The excessive liquid can be absorbed into the wood and cause the planks to swell.

Leaving rugs in one spot too long can cause sun discoloration on the floor. If lots of sun hits certain parts of the floor more than others it will cause discoloration. They can also leave a residue from rubber backing. If a rug gets wet and the moisture is getting to the floor it could stick to the wood. Make sure to let a rug that has gotten wet air dry completely before putting it back down on the floor.

Untrimmed pet nails can wreak havoc on the floors as well. They could scratch or scuff floors every time the dog walks across the room. Keep their nails trimmed so they don’t damage the wood. Rolling furniture like desk chairs with wheels can wear off the finish too. Logic would say rolling furniture is better on wood floors but the back and forth and rolling around can take its toll on the planks.

The majority of mainstream cleaners, soaps, and detergents that people typically use to clean their floors often contain toxic ingredients that could be harmful not only to your floor but to you as well. These cleaners are manufactured with price in mind instead of quality, with the majority of funds going towards advertising instead of research & development. Avoid these store-bought cleaners in lieu of high-quality, high-performance floor cleaning products that can be found primarily on the Internet. A dilution of Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser works wonders on even the dirtiest floor.

Bed with hardwood flooring.
Taking care of hardwood floors is an important part of home maintenance. With the proper strategy and cleaning supplies, your precious floors will last for many, many years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure not to use steel wool, steam mops, or any other abrasive cleaning  devices on your hardwood flooring. These may start causing damage to the wood rapidly after use. If you have some massive stains that have completely set in, speak to your local floor retailer about replacing the damaged area with new planks. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to repair them. The whole floor isn’t ruined but some of the boards may need to be removed to fix the problem area. That’s good news if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to replace an entire floor.

Keep an eye on your hardwood flooring so that mishaps and spills don’t remain on the planks for too long. Try to keep drinks contained as much as possible to prevent major spills. If something occurs, grab your handy high-quality floor mop and you will be good to go! Using soft brooms and gentle dust mops to remove dust, dirt and any other debris often will be the best way to keep your floors clean and looking great. They will have less of a chance to build up residue if they’re kept clean. Now you should feel confident that you know how to take care of old hardwood floors.

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