If you want your hardwood floors to continue looking as beautiful as they did on day one, you need to know how to protect them from different kinds of damage.
While sanding and refinishing hardwood floors work well to remove unsightly scratches and dents, water damage is a bit more complicated.
Minor stains may indeed come out after sanding. However, once moisture penetrates the wood too deeply, no amount of sanding will do. At that point, you’ll have to replace the planks, and it can be costly or difficult to find matching wood, stains, and finish.
In other words, prevention is a far better use of your time and money. Read on for a few handy tips on protecting your gleaming new hardwood from the dangers of moisture!
1. Prevent Leaks
First thing’s first: are your floors currently being exposed to water? If so, you must remedy this before anything else and before the damage worsens.
Start by looking for leaks around all your plumbing features, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, where water damage is most likely. Check along the walls and ceilings for water stains and cracks, which may indicate leakage in either your pipes or roofing.
Leaks of this sort require immediate attention. Call your local plumber or roofing contractor to evaluate the damage and arrange repairs. Otherwise, stains may also come from windows that don’t shut properly or flooding during heavy storms.
2. Address Spills Immediately
Sometimes, the water does not come from the elements but from a source much more within our control. Spills and accidents are just a part of life, especially if there are children or pets in yours!
That said, it’s important to wipe them up as soon as possible. Never leave water sitting for too long because it can soak through the wood and cause cracking, splitting, and stains. Consider placing a rug in front of exterior doorways to absorb any rain or snow tracked indoors, and keep wet shoes confined to a safe area.
3. Take Extra Care While Cleaning
If water is so terrible for hardwood, what do we do when it comes time to mop? The answer is far from neglecting your cleaning duties! If there’s only a bit of loose dirt and dust, you can get by with sweeping and vacuuming alone.
When mopping is necessary, use a cleaning product specifically designed for hardwood flooring. Mop the floor in smaller sections, one at a time. This way, you can immediately wipe up any remaining dampness with a microfiber cloth without giving the water time to soak.
4. Apply A Strong Finish
You wear a raincoat when it rains, right? Well, your hardwood floors could also use an impenetrable layer of protection from the elements! Flooring finishes are liquids that dry solid to create a sealed, water-resistant barrier on top of the hardwood and stain.
Finishes include water-based polyurethane, oil-based polyurethane, wax, and varnish. Make sure your floors are up to date on their finish. As a general rule of thumb, hardwood floors should be refinished every two to four years.
5. Monitor Humidity Levels
Does your local climate get extremely humid in the summertime? Even in wintertime, some regions can get humid from heavy rainfall and snowstorms. As hard as your HVAC works to regulate temperatures inside your home, it won’t do very much to modify the humidity levels.
If you have extensive hardwood floors, it’s worth purchasing a hygrometer, which measures humidity levels in the air.
According to the National Wood Floor Association, humidity levels are ideal for hardwood at 30% to 50%. A humidifier can help raise those levels if you’re on the low side, and a dehumidifier can help lower them.
Hardwood is known for being an extremely durable flooring choice and a coveted home asset. Yet no flooring type is perfect. It will accumulate damage if you’re not mindful.
As long as you put adequate time and effort into preventative maintenance like moisture management, your hardwood floors will reward you with decades of flawless beauty.