One of the most appealing things about oak hardwood flooring is that by investing time into your schedule for cleaning and maintenance, your floors will boast their natural characteristics for years to come. And best of all, it doesn't take much time or effort to stay on top of it.
Many of us love the look of our hardwood floors, not just because they provide an inspiring design, but because they add value to our home if it comes time to move. Whether you're gearing up to sell in the near future or planning to enjoy your home well into retirement, keeping the floor clean is important. And if you have small children and pets underfoot, you'll likely need to put in a little extra effort.
Soften the Daily WearOak wood can be easily scratched, but there are several ways to help prevent these nicks during the day. The National Wood Flooring Association suggests placing area rugs and mats in high-traffic areas and at doorways. The latter will keep small specks of dust and dirt from marring the wood, and provide minor coverage for the heavy foot traffic as well.
Scratch ProtectionDon't let your soccer- or football-playing kids transform your oak hardwood flooring into a sports field. Implement a "no cleats in the house" rule. In addition, be mindful of high heels, especially stilettos or hard, clunky boots. When moving furniture, be sure to lift pieces up rather than letting them drag across the floor and severely damage the surface.
Sweep with CautionWhen maintaining your floors by hand, the World Floor Covering Association advises keeping a soft-bristled broom handy for the easy but gentle cleanup of small debris. Or, if you have a vacuum without a beater bar, use it to keep the floor free of dust. While you do this, avoid using products intended for non-wood flooring. Cleaning agents for tile and vinyl can quickly ruin the wood, make it slippery or leave it with a dull, worn-looking finish.
Keep It DryKeep your oak floors dry. If water or any other liquid spills, clean it up quickly and thoroughly to get the area completely dry. Common oak isn't the most resilient to moisture, according to Home Advisor, so liquid that has a chance to seep below the surface can oxidize and expand the wood, causing cracks or even mold underneath. This doesn't happen by accident, stay away from wet mops when freshening up your floor.
Natural Cleaners for Sealed FloorsUse the proper cleaning products for your sealed oak floors, like a natural cleaner that can easily mix with water. If you're in a hurry and need something even quicker, an easy squirtable wood floor cleaner is convenient for isolated spots.
Mind the WeatherFinally, be mindful of the effects of the weather and season on your oak flooring. Direct sunlight on the floors can change the colors of your floor, so think about window treatments for areas that are exposed to a lot of sunlight. Wood floors can also contract when your heater is running in the winter, causing small gaps to form between the planks. If you run a humidifier, you can help prevent this effect.
Allow these tips to become second nature, and you'll have oak flooring that stays scratch-free, highlights its unique characteristics and adds a signature look to your home. Cared-for oak floors not only maintain their beauty, but hold their value for years.
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.