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How to Maintain Wood Floors

I love wood floors but keeping wood floors properly maintained can be hectic. If you're looking for tips on how to maintain wood floors, here are a few I hope will help you through the process. Remember wood floors are a treasure and an investment. Proper care of them is of the utmost importance.

  • Don't overly sand your wood floors. It's a mistake to get overly aggressive. So if you drop a skillet and it makes a 1/4" deep dent in your floor, don't sand it down to 1/4" off to smooth out the dent. If you do, your floor will become veneer and you'll definitely shorten its lifespan.
  • The better route is to "screen" the floor. Screening is a lighter form of sanding. Use mesh discs attached to a floor polisher. You can rent one for about $25.
  • Remove only the finish, not the layers of wood. It won't get rid of deep gouges however.
  • If you ever arrive home and your floor is partially under water for several days and parts are warped and cupped, let the floor dry out completely and stabilize. It could take months depending on season and climate, but if you sand off the buckled parts too soon, you may be left with gaps between the boards when they dry out and sink back down on their own.
  • Plants on floors can cause a lot of water damage. Be sure to use a trivet under the saucer. This gives art to the plant.
  • Trivets prevent water from collecting under the pot and sitting there for months. You don't want to have to sand or patch that spot.
  • When patching, be sure to use patches made from the same wood with the grain pattern, otherwise the patch will surely be noticeable.
  • High heels on soft woods like pine or chestnut can be a problems.
  • Stilettos are bad for any wood floor.
  • Otherwise shoe marks can add "character" to the floor.
  • Choose chairs with rubber casters, the bigger the better.
  • For moving heavy furniture, use our furniture sliders for hard floors.
  • For furniture you don't move often, protect the floor with those leather and fabric (felt) stick-ons under the legs. Check them periodically to make sure the felt hasn't worn away.
  • To remove stains on wood flooring, try aniline dyes or pigmented stains. Minwax and Dura Seal both make good stains.
  • Urethane finishes can be tricky. If over applied, they can leave a cheap, tacky, glossy look.
  • Walk carefully on newly finished floors as they might be extra slippery.
  • Boat varnishes are good. You can also use floor paint that's been varnished or a super-strong sealant from Glitsa that holds up for decades and is good on public places.
  • For general cleaning, damp mop once weekly with a mild soap like Murphy Oil Soap. The mineral oil will help hide some of the scratches.
  • To remove a patch of cloudiness (haze/blush) on your wood floors, try a rag dipped in alcohol to draw out the moisture.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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