Hardwood Floors & flooring

Caring for Wood Floors: It May Be the Most Important Thing You Do

by Anita Alvarez

Chair sitting on wood floor

Preserve your investment by caring for wood floors the right way. Damage from warping, liquid spills, gaps and regular wear and tear is not just unsightly, but tough on your wallet as well. Avoid costly renovations to your floors by following these basic maintenance tips.

Water and Wood Don't Mix

Moisture is the number one enemy of wood, because too much of it can cause it to warp. By cleaning without too much water and leaving less behind after damp-mopping, you can control how much moisture affects the floor from above. You don't have as much control from below; because plumbing leaks can occur under the floor, your best approach is to find and fix the leak before assessing any potential damage. Another way to protect against excess moisture is to keep humidity levels within a healthy range during the warmer months by using a dehumidifier in rooms that have wood floors.

Take a Balanced Approach

Conversely, gaps can occur between the floorboards if the conditions in your home become too dry. As summer humidity levels decrease during the winter, the floor starts to dry. Dry air causes wood to shrink and, eventually, the floorboards to separate. In this case, it's important to reset the moisture balance in your home by running a humidifier (in the same spot you ran your summer dehumidifier). This can restore moisture to your air and prevent these gaps in your flooring.

Protect Your Floors

Wood floors are also vulnerable to damage from normal wear and tear that occurs from high traffic, dirt and sunlight. In areas of your home that get a lot of use, sunlight and dirt damage, use floor mats or area rugs as added protection. Hardwood Floor Magazine recommends moving your rugs around periodically to avoid discoloration of the wood. The rugs will help protect the floors from foot traffic, dirt and sunlight that wear away the finish and scratch the surface, and will make caring for wood floors even easier.

With a regular maintenance routine and these basic care tips, it's easy to avoid this kind of damage to your wood floors. Along with these preventative steps, be sure to occasionally use a safe floor cleaner like Murphy® Oil Soap to remove dirt buildup and keep your floors looking great.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Murphy® Oil Soap. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.