Hardwood flooring is a popular residential and commercial flooring option that, if properly maintained, can offer many years of service. Unfortunately, there’s not much good information on how to properly maintain your floors. Many flooring manufacturers have paid relationships endorsing different product lines leading consumers to believe a particular brand is the only product that “works” on their floors. I’m here to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions and give some real world advice on how to properly care for your investment.
First, let’s cover some things NOT to use on your floors.
NO ACRYLIC WAX. (Wood Floor Products Requiring Stripper)
Never use anything containing acrylic wax. Although it is often referred to as a “wax,” it is not like the Johnson’s Paste Wax discussed below. This class of products is more similar to the glossy hardening waxes used on vinyl square tiles seen in schools and department stores. These products require routine maintenance, stripping and re-waxing. Many of the Orange Glo and Quick Shine type products rely on this type of coating to revive tired floors. Unfortunately this coating is not a urethane like was applied to the floors initially. While it may look ok in the beginning, it can cloud, scratch, peel and look terrible in no time. These products have to be stripped before a proper clean and urethane coating can be applied often doubling the cost of your maintenance. Anything that adds a sheen to your floors should be a red flag. Look closely at the picture below. The rug has been shifted back diagonally to reveal the effects of Bona, a popular hardwood product sold in big box stores. The matte finished area that was under the rug is what the floor is supposed to look like. The shiny coating in the foreground is product buildup from routine Bona usage. No other product had been used on the floor. It was recommended by the homeowner’s flooring manufacturer. It will have to be stripped before any professional cleaning and coating can be done. The buildup clouds, holds onto footprints and gets dirt embedded into the coating that is very difficult to clean.
NO PASTE WAX. (Wood Floor Products Requiring Stripper)
While you may have seen your grandmother polish her floors with a small buffer and some Johnson’s Paste Wax, it is definitely NOT recommended any more. The wax buildup behaves similarly to the acrylic wax coatings holding onto dirt and footprints. Unfortunately, once floors have been waxed with a paste wax, the only real option is to keep waxing or completely sand down to bare wood and refinish. This won’t be possible with many of the engineered hardwoods, so avoid the hassle and don’t apply paste wax to your floors.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOUR FLOORS ARE TOO FAR GONE.
Wood floors should be professionally cleaned and coated every 1-2 years. Proper maintenance can extend the life of engineered floors significantly and can extend the time between refinishes on solid hardwoods.
So what CAN you do to maintain your floors? Below are some things you SHOULD DO to maintain your investment.
SWEEP AND VACUUM ROUTINELY.
Dry soil is like sandpaper on your flooring. Routine removal is required to slow the wear on the floor’s urethane coating. More sweeping and vacuuming means less wear. Even if the floors look ok, they should be routinely swept or vacuumed. The same goes for carpet. Modern robotic vacuums can be a real help with hardwood maintenance. If you have a significant amount of wood flooring, I would seriously consider a robotic vacuum.
DAMP MOP WITH NEUTRAL FLOOR CLEANER
A simple neutral pH floor cleaner labeled for hardwood use should be used with a microfiber mop to maintain your floors between professional cleans. Always sweep first. We recommend and carry the Squeaky Floor Care System. Avoid anything that ADDS SHINE. The only “shine” should be the original floor sheen that is revealed by effective removal of dulling soils. Squeaky will never have to be stripped. We use Squeaky as a part of our professional floor cleaning process prior to applying a urethane coating.
PROFESSIONALLY CLEAN AND COAT.
Our process rejuvenates tired floors and extends the time between refinishes. Many modern engineered hardwoods are actually a hardwood veneer that may not even be possible to refinish. Proper maintenance with our “Clean and Coat” process replenishes the urethane layer you are wearing off with each passing day, effectively turning a 7 year floor into a 10-12 year floor with none of the dust and delays of a full “refinish.” Utilizing state-of-the-art machines and a multi-step process, we clean embedded dirt from deep within the grain of the wood and apply a thin urethane coating to replace the layer you have worn off. The floors are usable almost immediately without the dust, delays and headaches of a refinish. But don’t wait too long. Cleaning and Coating every 1-2 years will greatly extend the life of your floors. The picture on the right is dirty cleaning solution extracted from a 2 year old hardwood floor! The picture on the left is some typical before and after results.