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Maintenance of Hardwood Floors

Regular maintenance requires little more than sweeping with a soft bristle broom, and vacuuming with a soft floor attachment if your wood floor includes a beveled edge that could collect debris. You also should clean your floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional.

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

There are other steps you can take to minimize maintenance and maintain the beauty of your wood floors as well.

  1. Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.
  2. Use throw rugs both inside and outside doorways to help prevent grit, dirt and other debris from being tracked onto your wood floors. This will prevent scratching.
  3. Do not wet-mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.
  4. Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.
  5. Do not over-wax a wood floor. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other light traffic areas by applying wax in these spots every other waxing session.
  6. Put soft plastic or fabric-faced glides under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching.
  7. Avoid walking on your wood floors with cleats, sports shoes and high heels. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
  8. When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to protect the wood flooring.
  9. For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug in front of the kitchen sink.
  10. Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to keep wood movement and shrinkage to a minimum.

RENEWAL & REPAIRS

Unlike most other floor covering options, wood is very forgiving. Most problems can be prevented with proper maintenance, but when problems do occur, renewal and repair usually is possible. For renewing and repairing stains and scratches on any wood floor, always begin at the outer edge of the stain or scratch and work toward the middle.

To renew or repair a wood floor, you first will need to determine which kind of finish is on your floor.

WAX FLOORS

If the stain or scratch has penetrated the surface and is in the wood, you are dealing with a wax-finished floor.

Stains

How you tackle renewing and repairing stains depends on the type of stain.

* Chewing Gum, Crayon, Candle Wax
Apply a plastic bag filled with ice until the deposit is brittle enough to crumble off. Crayon or candle wax can be removed by placing an ink blotter on the area and applying a hot pressing iron to the top of the blotter. Solvent-based wax also can be applied around the area to loosen the deposit.

* Cigarette Burns
If the burn is not very deep, rub the area with fine sandpaper or steel wool. Moisten the steel wool with wax for better results. If the burn is deep, scrape the area with a penknife to remove charred fibers. Rub the area with fine sandpaper. Stain, wax and hand buff.

* Dark Spots, Dog Spots, Ink Stains
Rub spot with #000 steel wool. Wax the affected area. If this fails, lightly sand the area with fine sandpaper, and clean it using #00 steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner . Allow the floor to dry. Stain, wax and hand buff. If the spot remains, apply a household bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak for an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth, wipe dry and smooth with fine sandpaper. Stain, wax and hand buff.

* Dried Milk, Food Stains
Gently rub the stain with a damp cloth. Rub the area dry and wax.

* Mold
Rub with a wood cleaner.

* Oil, Grease Stains
First rub the area with kitchen soap having a high lye content, or saturate cotton with hydrogen peroxide and place over the stain. Then saturate a second layer of cotton with ammonia and place over the first layer. Repeat until stain is removed. Let the area dry and then hand buff.

* Water Stains, White Spots
Rub spot with #000 steel wool. Wax the affected area. If this fails, lightly sand the area with fine sandpaper, and clean it using #00 steel wool and mineral spirits or a wood floor cleaner . Allow the floor to dry. Stain, wax and hand buff.

* Wax Build Up
Strip the old wax away with odorless mineral spirits or a wood floor product made for stripping wax. Use cloths and fine steel wool to remove all residue. After the floor is dry, wax and buff.

Scratches

To renew and repair scratches, wax the area thoroughly.

Heel Marks

Rub in a small amount of wax with fine steel wool and hand buff to a shine.

SURFACE FINISHED FLOORS

If the stain or scratch has penetrated the finish only and is not in the wood, you are dealing with a surface finished floor.

Stains

* Chewing Gum, Crayon, Candle Wax
Apply a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the stain until it is brittle enough to crumble off. Clean the area with a product made for urethane finishes.

* Cigarette Burns
Most common burns can be treated with a touch-up kit made for urethane finishes. Rub with sandpaper, stain and refinish. For burns that reach deep into the wood, individual plank or parquet boards may need to be replaced.

* Food, Water, Dark Spots, Dog Spots
Use a cleaner developed specifically for urethane finishes to remove the spot or stain. More stubborn spots may require additional scrubbing with the cleaner and a wood flooring scrub pad made for urethane floors.

* Oil, Grease Stains
Rub the area with a cleaner developed for urethane.

Scratches

* Repair with a touch-up kit made for urethane finishes available from any wood flooring retailer.

Adapted from: The National Wood Flooring Association: www.woodfloors.org