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How to Ruin Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors compliment any space, whether rustic, modern, or traditional. As long as you care for your floors, they will continue to beautify your home for years to come. Here are the most common ways to damage your floor and how to prevent this damage from occurring.

Don’t Do Daily Maintenance

Not doing daily maintenance is one of the top ways to ruin your hardwood floor. We recommend using a swiffer, microfiber mop or some type of vacuum in the high traffic areas on a daily basis. This not only looks great, but it will also lengthen the life of your floor. If you want to ruin your hardwood floors, skip the daily cleaning. It’s just that simple.

Skip Vacuuming

Vacuuming is an important chore for keeping dirt and dust off your wood floors and out of tiny cracks and crevices. If you skip the weekly cleaning of your entire floor, those little rocks, dirt, and dust work like sandpaper and will wear out the finish on your beautiful hardwood floors. You can use a robotic vacuum or any safe vacuum for hardwood floors. Make sure your beater bar is turned off or set to the hardwood setting. Using the beater bar on your vacuum will gouge and scratch your floor.

Mop With Water

It’s this plain and simple… Water and wood do not mix! Water can do significant damage to a floor; Water and steam mops will damage your floor. Moisture will penetrate the wood’s fibers causing boards to swell, cup, warp, and separate. If your hardwood floors need a deep cleaning use a barely damp mop or cloth and then dry the floor immediately and completely with a towel. Damage to your can occur with only one mopping, and it doesn’t take a lot. Instead, use a quality wood floor cleaning product such as Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and spray lightly on the floor. Clean with a Swifter or microfiber mop.

Don’t Worry About Cleaning Up Those Spills

Not cleaning up spills can cause permanent damage to your floor. Dried, caked on spills take a lot more force to remove when left to sit. The spill itself can cause staining, the force required to clean up a dried spill can cause damage. Prevent damage by wiping up spills immediately or as soon as possible with a soft, clean cloth. If you need a bit of water to help lift the spill, use just a tiny bit and be sure to dry the floor thoroughly with a clean towel.

Avoid Wearing High Heels

A 125-pound woman wearing high heels exerts 2000 lb of pressure per square inch. A woman wearing high heels with a worn-out heel exerts 8000 lb of pressure per square inch, which is more than a full-grown elephant exerting pressure in the same place. High heels, especially those with worn-out tips, will cause denting and scratching on your floor. I recommend waiting until the last minute to put on your heels before walking out the door. If you are going to wear heels on your hardwood floors, make sure they are in good repair.

Skip The Entry Mats & Area Rugs

A good entry mat and strategic placement of other mats and rugs are essential to maintaining your floor. Not only are they a personal touch to your home’s decor, but an entry mat is also the first line of defense against dirt, gravel, and other outdoor debris that gets dragged in from shoes. Consider a mat in front of the kitchen sink and stove to protect your floor, as well as placing a rug or runner in high traffic areas.

If You Really Want to Damage Your Floors, Use Inappropriate Cleaners

Just because a product says it is safe for wood floors doesn’t mean it’s true. Using inappropriate cleaning supplies on your floor will cause damage, sometimes after only one occurrence.

Do not use any products that have water or oil-based ingredients. These products include but are not limited to: Orange Glow, Old English, Murphy’s Oil Soap, and various restoration products. These products cause a milky film layer to build up on your floor, and it will never evaporate or dissipate.

Do not use vinegar or ammonia as it will damage and wear away your finish. Mixed with water, these products could also get into the wood and cause cupping or gapping.
Steam mops, wet mops, and even the Swiffer Wet Jet style mops could cause damage to the finish and even result in damage to the wood, even after only one use. Wood does not mix with the extreme heat or water produced by a steam mop.

The right way to clean your floor:

  • On a daily basis, run a swiffer or vacuum around the high traffic areas.
  • On a weekly basis, run the vacuum over the entire floor. Make sure the vacuum is set to hardwood, or the beater bar is turned off.
  • Every 3 – 4 weeks, use a high-quality wood floor product such as Bona. Lightly spray the floor and wipe with a clean microfiber mop or swiffer.

Be sure to discuss how to care for your floor with your contractor or the merchant that sold you your wood. This type of damage is not covered under your warranty by the manufacturer or your contractor.

My Pet Is Not Going To Hurt My Floor

We love our critters, and they love us back, which makes that relationship so special. But, along with having a pet does come responsibility. Ignoring this responsibility will result in damage to your floor, as well as an unruly pet.

Don’t Have Time for Your Daily Cleaning?

Stay current with your daily and weekly cleaning schedule. Our pets leave hair, dander, and muddy footprints regularly. Staying current with your cleaning schedule will reduce damage caused by the extra dirt and debris our pets bring us. Remember, you could use a robotic vacuum and not even pay attention that you’re running the vacuum. Just be certain there is no beater bar, and if there is a beater bar, turn it off or set it to hardwood.

You Can Put Off Wiping up Pet Stains

Wipe up any messes or accidents immediately or as soon as possible. Pet urine is acidic and will damage the floor, often causing a black spot. If you need a bit of water, you can use a lightly damp rag, then dry immediately and completely with a clean towel.

Pet stains will leave a black spot on your floor that does not fade or go away. Sometimes sanding won’t take it out of your floor either. If this is the case, boards may have to be replaced and the entire floor sanded and refinished to bring your floor back to its original beauty.

Ensure That Your Dog’s Nails Are Well Trimmed

Dogs who are primarily indoors tend to have claws that grow quite fast. It is important to keep their nails trimmed as short as possible. You can do this yourself by purchasing the appropriate tools or taking them to the groomer on a regular basis. Be sure the fur between their paw pads is also being trimmed to help prevent slipping.

Take Your Dog For Regular Walks

Dogs who are regularly walked are overall better behaved. More importantly, as a pet owner, you have the responsibility to keep your dog exercised. Taking your dog for a walk on concrete such as a sidewalk is a natural way to keep your pet’s nails trimmed and dulled. Regular walks also help reduce accidents and other damage. Your pet will do a lot of “business” while outdoors and will be tired when returning home. This decreases the play of sharp nails and potential floor damage since their energy was used up during their walk. Regular walks are a win-win for everyone!

Purchase Dog Booties or Grips: (They’re Gonna Love You for Them)
If your dog will wear them, booties protect both the floor, your furniture, and your pet’s paws.

Pet booties are great! Those initial attempts to walk in them can be quite entertaining. You can purchase booties that have a no-slip pad to help reduce slipping. This helps reduce damage to your floor but, more importantly, reduces the risk of injury to your pet.

Paw Pads: Paw pads are another option to help protect your pet. These stick on your dog’s feet and reduce sliding, preventing damage to your floor or injury to your pet.

Toe Caps: Add a little bling to your dog’s fashion while protecting your dog and floor. Toe caps fit over your dog’s natural nails and allow them some grip on slippery surfaces. Since their nails are dulled, it reduces scratching and protects your furniture.

It might be difficult for your dog to get used to having something strange on their feet at first, but most pets will eventually get used to them.

Upgrade the Finish on Your Floor

Bona Traffic is a two-component finish with UV protection and hardeners to reduce fading and scratching. We typically recommend a high-quality product such as Bona Traffic if you have pets, an active household, or lots of windows.

Put a Mat Down Under the Food & Water Bowls
Our critters do love their water, and no one can predict just how much water your pet will drink and how much will end up on the floor. To help reduce the risk of damage to your floor, place a mat down to help catch that excess water.

Let That Furniture Slide!
Every time you sit on a piece of furniture, it moves, even just a little bit. It’s best to have that area rug go under your furniture, but there are pieces that just don’t fit. You don’t want to scratch your hardwood floors, so what’s the best answer? There are plenty of solutions.

Furniture slides are a great option for furniture that you want to move, such as kitchen or dining room chairs. Those come in either stick-on or push pen-style felt glides. It is inexpensive to do this but expensive to fix damage from the furniture sliding while unprotected. For pieces of furniture you do not want to move, you can get the furniture stops (shown far right in the photo above). These are perfect for beds, couches, and other pieces of furniture you do not want to move. Once again, these are relatively inexpensive and well worth the time and effort to save an expensive repair to your floor.

Avoid Excessive Sunlight Exposure

  • Fading from sunlight is inevitable, but there are some things you can do to help reduce fading or at least hide how obvious it is.
  • You can get your windows lined with a film that provides UV protection. This not only helps your floors but helps your furniture as well.
  • Move your area rugs about one to two inches in both directions about once a month. Even if the floor fades, the lines will be blurred, and it will not be as obvious.

Upgrade your finish to a water-based commercial grade finish such as Bona Traffic. The quality water-based finishes have superior UV protection to oil-based finishes. Although fading occurs with a water-based finish, it slows it significantly, extending the life of your floor.
As you can see, hardwood floors, just like any type of floor, all have their demands. With the upgrades in finishes over the years, hardwood floors are easy to take care of. They just require a little commitment.

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