Hardwood floors are often the central focus of a well-designed home. They bring an elegance and beauty to your home that is not possible with any other material. As a foundation for a fireplace in the living room or a complementary match for the walls of a man cave, hardwood floors have the reputation of being easy to clean and generally low maintenance.
There is a significant amount of advice on how to prevent and protect your hardwood floors from damage, such as placing rugs in high traffic areas and basic maintenance such as dusting and mopping. But what do you do when there are more specific or severe problems that have the potential to serious damage the appearance of your floor? Here are some tips to help you avoid a major problem and what to do to fix them.
Remember, always keep in mind that the best solution may be to call a professional cleaning service to save you both time and money.
The underlying reason to deal with any hardwood floor problems as soon as possible is because if the wood gets damaged, the problem is likely to grow, turning a simple solution into an expensive, long term problem. This is why vacuum cleaners with rotating brushes are discouraged as they are likely to scratch the floor’s surface. Retail store floor cleaners are useful for protecting the surface and reducing the chances of scratching. These cleaners are also good for removing the dirt that can accumulate in the scratches and cause the floor to deteriorate over time.
Deeper scratches require a more aggressive approach. You first have to determine whether the scratch is on the surface of the floor or has actually cut into the wood. Floors with a urethane finish, the most common coating and generally preferred by floor installation companies, will likely prevent deep scratches or stains from penetrating the wood. However, if you have an older home that has not has its hardwood floor refinished, it is likely you have a softer finish, making your floor more susceptible to wear and tear and damage. Using a soft cloth and some standard floor cleaning solution will remove and repair most stains that have not penetrated the coating. Take care of the problem as soon as it is noticed, otherwise there is a risk of the problem becoming worse.
If the scratch or stain has penetrated through the coating, use a piece of 000 fine steel wool and floor wax to try to return the floor’s appearance to normal. If that does not work, use vinegar applied to a damp cloth and rub it in. After about an hour, rinse the affected area with a damp cloth. Steel wool is also an effective solution for heel marks from shoes. Again, the method is slightly different for floors that are not urethane coated or are older.
Oil-based stains from greasy foods and the like need to be treated by using a mild detergent that will break down the grease without damaging the floor coating. Clean and rinse the spot with a soft cloth, repeating the process as necessary. Do not allow people or pets near the area until the process is completed. Then smooth the area using 000 fine steel wool. This can be used on both hard and soft coated floors.
Water stains are perhaps the most commonly encountered problem with hardwood floors. Superficial water damage to the floor can be quickly taken care of with the aforementioned 000 steel wool. Water damage the goes through the coating should be removed using fine sandpaper, followed by cleaning with mineral spirits and fine steel wool.
The reality is that the longer you have your hardwood floor, the more likely it is that any of these minor problems will occur. Knowing how to quickly repair the problem and keep your floor looking its best requires a bit of preparation, having the 000 steel wool on hand and knowing the material and finish of your floor. In most cases there are no “easy” solutions – just taking care of the problem as soon as it is noticed.
But not everyone is able to correctly do these repairs. Do not worry. There are many floor and cleaning service professionals that can come in and do the job, allowing you to focus on what you need to do. Trying to do it yourself can make the problem worse – and more expensive to fix. So before trying any of these proposed hardwood floor cleaning solutions, ask yourself if you are up to the job. If not, pick up the phone and potentially save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars.