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10 Ways People Destroy Their

Hardwood Flooring

January 25, 2019

BY Laura Anzures

Are you damaging your floor finish with bad habits? Check out this list of the most common causes of wear and damage to hardwood flooring:


STEAM MOPS.  Steam blasted on to hardwood flooring will ruin the flooring. You will start to see little fissures in the finish first. Then, the wood will split. I have tried to help clients with claims for damage. The steam cleaners are advertised for hardwood flooring. However, when you call them, they state they are only for use on hardwoods if the flooring manufacturer recommends steam cleaning.  All hardwood flooring manufacturers advise against putting steam on wood flooring.  


FLOOR POLISHES, WAXES and OILS: Your hardwood flooring has a protective coating. Once that coating wears down, you need to have the flooring professionally coated again.  Once you apply a "refresher", polish, wax or oil, you cannot ever have the floor professionally coated. Polyurethane will not bond to an acrylic or oil.  If you try to have the floors screened and recoated, the finish will bubble up off the floor and either flake off or peel off.  Please read the fine print on products like Bona Polish. The bad news is right there on the label.  


PLASTIC TOYS OR WASTE BASKETS: These can have rough plastic points that really damage hardwoods when scooted around. We have seen our fair share of flooring damage caused by toddler activity toys and plastic waste baskets.  Do yourself a favor and place an area rug or some of those foam, interlocking floor tiles under these toddler toys.  Not only will you protect your flooring, but you will also have a softer surface for tumbling toddlers. 


PAPER FLOOR CLEANING CLOTHS:  The Swiffer, Pledge and any other disposable cloths that are used to remove dust and dirt from floors are abrasive. You wouldn't use them to clean your eye glasses because they would leave little scratches. You can feel the roughness when you touch these paper cleaning clothes. Those abrasives are great for snagging dust from the floor, but not so great on the finish. They gradually dull your floor finish with teeny tiny scratches. Instead, use a broom with soft tips, a micro-fiber dust mop or a vacuum.  You do want to keep the floors clean because dirt and sand from outside will also abrade and dull your floor finish. 


PET URINE:  Dogs tend to pee pee in the same area over and over. They also tend to pee pee on area rugs. You may not even notice that they had an accident when they pee on area rugs until you remove the rug and see the dark stain from repeated urination. When pets urinate on the same area repeatedly, the discoloration goes deep into the wood. Please clean up the urine right away. 


SHOES & HIGH HEELS INDOORS: Are you tracking in dust, sand, concrete particles and bacteria when you come home? The treads in athletic shoes fill with dirt and little rocks.  As you walk, these abrasives damage your floor finish. You may not notice damage immediately, but your finish will wear down much faster.   


Everyone is familiar with the dents and dimples caused by high heels. When the heels wear down on your stilettos, there is a nail head that taps the floor when you walk. This is preventable. Keep your high heel shoes in good condition by replacing the rubber heal when it wears down. Switch to slippers when you get home and preserve the finish on your home and reduce indoor dust and allergens . 


SLIDING CHAIRS AND OTHER FURNISHINGS:  The area where people eat is usually the first area of flooring that wears out.  This is typically due to sliding the dining chairs back and forth daily.  We recommend area rugs under dining tables or the use of protective pads under chairs, stools and other furniture that is moved on a regular basis.   When you need to roll appliances, pianos or any heavy furniture on wheels, use Ram Board or another floor protector. There is a lot of weight on those small wheels.  The wheels will compress the grain of your hardwood flooring, leaving tracks when they are rolled across the flooring. 


WATER: Wood has cellulose fibers, just like a kitchen sponge.  When the fibers are exposed to water, they swell. When they dry out, they shrink, just like a sponge.  If you spill liquid on your hardwoods, wipe up the spill right away to avoid water damage. When you clean your floors, use a damp micro-fiber mop or cotton mop. Don't saturate your floor with water. If your wood flooring starts to cup or warp, take it as a sign that you have a moisture or humidity problem. Your indoor humidity should should be kept at between 30% to 50% to keep your flooring stable. A climate that is too dry will cause your wood flooring to shrink, leaving gaps between the planks. 


SUNLIGHT:  Wood flooring will change color with UV exposure.  Some wood species get darker and others get lighter in color from sunlight. You should consider a UV filter on your windows or get sheer drapes to minimize sun damage.  Also, rearrange your furniture and area rugs on a regular basis to avoid obvious hard lines where the sun hits the floor.  


DOG TOE TAILS:  The most common damage to wood flooring that I see is also the most preventable form of damage, scratches from long toenails on dogs.  Keep their nails trimmed so that they do not come in contact with the wood flooring.  It's that simple. There is no need to invest in a harder wood or the application of an additional coat of polyurethane.  As soon as you hear the clicking of nails coming in contact with the wood flooring, get your furry babies to the groomer!