Repair And Cleaning Tips
BY THE HARDWOOD MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
Living with Natural Hardwood Floors
Solid hardwood floors repay a little care with a lifetime of
value. When you first glimpse a solid hardwood floor, you sense
richness, warmth and natural beauty. Gradually, you get to know
its distinct personality -- visual harmonies, the traces of
history in the forest and in your home.
Take a closer look.
Appreciate the color and pattern of the floorís strips, planks
Read the grain: Is it bold-textured oak? Subdued maple or
Check the condition of the underlying wood and the finish that
protects it. Are there signs of neglect to erase (itís not
difficult), or do you see a well-tended surface that needs just
a light touch to maintain it?
Natureís diversity lets you create dramatic looks with unique
textures, colors, patterns and styles of solid hardwood
Protect Your Solid Investment
Solid hardwood floors are among the easiest to keep clean.
Protect their warmth and character with simple, everyday
Itís important to know how to prevent damage to your solid
DIRT and GRIT : Dirt, grit and sand are your hardwood
floorís worst enemies.
They act like sandpaper on the finish, causing scratches, dents
and dulling. Place floor mats at entrances to trap dirt and
WATER AND OTHER SPILLS : Standing water can warp a poorly
finished hardwood floor and can damage the finish. Simply wipe
up all spills as they happen.
HARD CLEANERS : Avoid oil soaps. They can build up and
create problems when itís time to put a maintenance coat on the
floor. Instead, neutral pH cleaners made specifically for wood
floors are recommended.
FURNITURE : Lift the furniture to move it --- avoid
dragging. Felt contacts under the legs will help prevent
DENTS : Vacuum with a brush attachment -- donít use
vacuums with beater bars.
SUN : Direct sun can discolor your hardwood floor. Close
curtains and blinds or add sheer drapes to protect from the
sunís intense UV rays.
SWEEP : Brooms with fine, exploded ends trap dust and
VACUUM : Canister vacuums with special bare floor
attachments are the surest way to get rid of all the dirt and
DUST MOP : Use a good dust mop --- one with a 12- to 18-
inch cotton head ---- and a special dust mop treatment. Spray
the treatment onto the mop head 12 to 24 hours before dust
Oak and maple are the most popular hardwoods used in flooring.
Ash, beech,birch, cherry, hickory and walnut are other favorites
for floors and decorative accents.
Does Your New Hardwood Floor Look Old?
Perhaps your hardwood floors were installed just a few years
ago, but you haven't taken care of them and now they look old.
What can you do? Before you do anything, check the condition of
the finish and the wood to see whether they need special
cleaning or more involved repair.
What condition is your floor in?
Follow these steps to evaluate the condition of your hardwood
floor and its finish.
Finish Condition: Has the finish been worn off or is it
just dirty? See if the finish is dull, chipped, scraped or
gouged. To test if the finish has worn off, begin in a
high-traffic area and pour one to two tablespoons of water onto
the floor. If the water soaks in immediately and leaves a
darkened spot, the finish is worn and water can damage the wood.
If the water soaks in after a few minutes and darkens the wood
only slightly, the finish is partially worn. If the water beads
on top, the surface is properly sealed. Repeat this test in low-
and medium-traffic areas.
Wood Condition: It the finish is worn, the wood may have
been damaged. Are there stains, burns, cuts, gouges, holes,
cracks or warped boards? If the wood is damaged, repair or
replacement may be required before you deep clean your floor or
apply a maintenance coat.
What type of finish does your floor have?
The same care and maintenance techniques are used for all
finishes in good condition, but when it comes to removing stains
or restoring the finish, methods differ. If you don't know what
kind of finish your floor has, ask your contractor or Realtor,
or try these simple tests:
Surface Finishes: (pre-finished floors, polyurethane,
water-based urethane and catalyzed)
Nearly all floors installed today have surface finishes, mostly
polyurethane. They are often glossy and may look like a layer of
clear plastic on top of the wood. A small amount of paint
remover in an inconspicuous area of the floor will cause the
surface finish to bubble (unless it is a water-based urethane,
in which case there will be no reaction). Surface finishes
shield floors from harm by forming a protective layer on top of
Penetrating Seals: (acrylics, oils and waxes)
Oils and waxes usually have a satin or matte finish. If you can
feel the wood grain when you run your hand across the surface,
it's most likely a penetrating seal. Paint remover will have no
effect on a penetrating seal, but wax stripper or ammonia will
soften and whiten the surface. Oils and waxes penetrate the
surface of the floor protecting the wood from within.