Last Updated 11/29/2021
Protecting hardwood floors can feel like a taller order than installing them sometimes, but it is quite simple: prepare and protect! Area rugs in high traffic areas and entry ways, furniture feet pads, and frequent sweeping are some of the best ways to keep that shine.
Hardwoods – bamboo especially – are notorious for their strength compared to other flooring types; however, they are not invincible. These floors are susceptible to wear over the years, and refinishing (when compatible with your floor’s finish) can be an expensive undertaking. It is important to take preventative measures to protect hardwood floors before the need ever crops up.
Rugs and pads can protect from immediate impact, for scooting chairs or sliding heavy furniture will gouge any floor in due time. Additionally, accumulating grit and dirt can wear away the floor’s finish underfoot. These situations seem insignificant in isolation, but the impact builds up over time!
While the shoes-on vs. shoes-off household war has made for some excellent internet debates, we’re here to call for an armistice: I’m sure some will be disappointed, but shoes-off is the way to go for clean and lasting floors.
Luckily, this brings us right to summer: the promise of cookouts and beach time – most importantly, the biggest shoes-off season of the year! But for homeowners, summer isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. This sunny season also comes with an all-too-common threat: humidity.
Hot weather, humidity, and the unique debris that comes with summer can all take a toll on your home and its hardwood flooring. While there are preventative methods for humidity protection, it isn’t so easy as laying down a rug. So how can you confidently protect your hardwood floors this summer?
Protecting Hardwoods From Humidity
You’d be surprised by just how quickly humidity can impact your home. It only takes four to six pints of water for the air in a 1,000 square foot space to jump from 15% humidity to 60%.
To put this into perspective, the ideal humidity level for your house is between 40% to 50%. Your hardwoods can begin to develop mold within three months if the air has a humidity level of 80% or higher. Not only are hardwoods susceptible to mold, but they can be warped by rapid fluctuations in humidity.
Wood is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs and releases moisture. During the summer when your home is humid, your hardwoods may swell a little.
As we talk about preparing and protecting hardwood floors, it is important to note how these problems can be mitigated during installation. Taking the proper steps to combat subfloor moisture – be that an underlayment or otherwise sealing areas where moisture could fluctuate – can limit swelling and prevent serious warping altogether.
A dehumidifier can help to keep the humidity in your home under control and at the ideal percentage. But if you begin to notice your floors cupping, it may be a good idea to call a professional.
If all else fails, be sure to check the installation guide accompanying your new floors. Your manufacturer will know best when it comes to acclimating and protecting hardwood flooring.
Vacuum and Sweep to Keep the Room Sleek
Your hardwood floors have an average return on investment of 70% to 80%. That said, it’s important to keep your hardwood flooring in good shape to make sure you make the most of that ROI.
When your family returns home from the beach, it’s important that you keep sandals and sandy toys outside or by the door. Sand can damage your floors’ finish when it’s dragged across the floor. Every day particles such as dirt and dust can have the same effect when they build up over time. In order to properly protect hardwood floors, it is important to prevent accumulation of particles that will wear away the finish under foot traffic.
To keep sand and other particles from damaging your floors, vacuum or sweep high-traffic at least once a day. If you decide to mop, use a specially formulated cleaner and mop about once a month. Don’t use water to mop your floors because your hardwoods will absorb it: at best, a damp mop is permissible. In general, it is best to stick with those hardwood-approved floor cleaners.
Again, the manufacturers will know best how to care for and protect their hardwood floors! Be sure to consult with provided maintenance instructions if you are ever unsure about products or processes for cleaning and upkeep.
Use Shades to Block Out UV Light
Not only can sunlight quickly turn your home into an oven during the summer when your air conditioning isn’t running but the UV rays can also damage your hardwood floors. UV rays can fade discolor the wood.
To cut down on the UV rays’ impact, keep your curtains closed during the day or at least between 10 AM and 2 PM when the sun’s rays are strongest. Additionally, you can install a UV protection film over windows that shine on your hardwood floors as a preventative barrier from overexposure.
It is important to rotate rugs and furniture frequently to keep your hardwood floors protected from excessive UV damage: when light exposure is concentrated in one area, it can leave sun spots or uneven coloration where the wood is partially faded.
While you should rotate furniture frequently to even out the light exposure, make sure you lift the furniture without dragging it and set it down gently. As we mentioned before, felt pads on the feet of heavy items such as couches, tables, and other fixtures can significantly reduce damage from impact and shifting over time.
Don’t drag those feet: as in, don’t wait too long to reconfigure the furniture or else your floors will fade. Also, pick up your dang furniture when you move it – don’t drag those feet!
What steps have you taken to protect your hardwood floors? Leave a comment and let us know – what works for you, and what doesn’t?