They laid the rosin paper, the flooring is down, the finish is gorgeous. Whether you watched or participated during construction, or purchased a home with these floors, now you need to learn: how to protect newly finished hardwood floors from scratches and damage?
No matter the type of hardwood, or color of stain, you have to put a little extra work into these floors to make sure they last and don’t have to refinish in a year or two. That means using the right cleaners, taking proactive steps to protect the floors, and being aware of simple things that could damage them but seem perfectly safe.
Remodels are expensive and your hardwood floors add significant value to your home; it’s intelligent to care for and protect them.
The Finished Hardwood Floor Protection Guide
The first thing you need to know about finished hardwood is that moisture is still your enemy. Water, humidity, and even your mop bucket need to be treated as double-edged swords, as they can damage the hardwood very easily. That said, there are several steps you should take to protect your newly finished hardwood floors, both right now and on a schedule.
The first step is preventative, and it starts outside your home. Fine dirt, tiny rocks, and grit come into our homes through one primary avenue: our shoes. When you have beautiful hardwood flooring, the first essential purchase should be a mat system to keep dirt where it belongs — outside.
Outside your front door, you want to have an excellent, durable door mat with texture, so it cleans the majority of the dirt off of shoes before they enter your home. Inside the door, you need a longer mat, designed to stand on while you remove your shoes. A tray for shoes next to that mat also helps wrangle the dirt. Area rugs to martial messes in areas like the kitchen are a good idea too.
Whether or not you were a “no shoes in the house ever” person before now or not — now you are. These passive guards will help to make it so that you don’t have to sweep every day.
The next step is more active and does require a schedule. It would help if you had a soft, angled broom that can reach under counter edges and into corners. If you can stand it, you should be sweeping any dirt off your hardwood every couple of days — if you don’t, simply walking on them can scratch the finish.
As an alternative, a hard surface vacuum with a microfiber roller can help speed up the process and help you keep up the habit. A microfiber hand towel is another necessity to wipe up any spills immediately. Keeping water off your floor is the name of the protection game. If a significant spill occurs, use a box fan to dry it thoroughly after wiping up the water.
After sweeping or vacuuming the floor, you should clean your hardwood floor with a mop at least once every two weeks. Remember using cleaners that have harsh chemicals can damage your finish, so learning how to do that properly is very important.
Once a year, light sanding and polish is a good idea. You can do this yourself or set up a maintenance schedule with the installer or builder to come in – or a maintenance company – depending on your available time and handiness level. You should not need to sand and polish more often than that.
If you keep up with proper maintenance, you may never need to do a full refinish again. That’s excellent news, as doing so can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.
You Can Now Protect Your Hardwood Investment
It doesn’t take much, but your habits need to be consistent to protect your newly finished hardwood floors. Wipe up spills immediately, wrangle the dirt at the door, do not allow outdoor shoes on your hardwood, and keep the broom handy. Doing these things will prevent damage.
Keeping your floors clean, dry, and moisture out, combined with a steady routine of upkeep over the years, can keep your hardwood beautiful for a lifetime.