Here at Floor Coverings International of East Bay and Pleasanton, we’re obsessed with hardwood floors. While comfy carpet is great, the glamorous and sleek look of hardwood flooring is hard to beat. But whether they’re engineered or solid, bamboo or oak, the hard truth is that all hardwood flooring is prone to damage. From spills to scuffs, your hardwood flooring is always at risk. Fortunately though, we have some proven tips and tricks to help you prevent damage to your floors, and to clean and repair them when damage does occur.

Prevent Damage to Your Hardwood Floors

The first—and arguably most important part—of maintaining your hardwood floors is making an effort to prevent damage from happening in the first place. One of the easiest things you can do is lay down carpets, runners, and area rugs in high traffic areas. Things like high heels or the claws of pets can scratch your hardwoods, so giving them a layer of protection is important, (and keep those claws trimmed!). Your furniture is another likely culprit for flooring damage. The legs of tables and chairs can create gouges in your floors, so make sure to apply glides and pads. If you’re moving your furniture around, a neat trick for preventing floor damage is to slip socks over the ends of the furniture, so that the hard edges won’t drag across the wood. One of the ways that floors get damaged over time is when dirt and grit gets ground into the floors, abrading the surface like sandpaper. Door mats can help prevent this by catching around 80% of all the dirt you track in on your shoes. The other way to prevent this is simply to sweep frequently. A once over with the broom each night will drastically lengthen the lifespan of your floors. This leads us into our next section, cleaning your hardwood flooring.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

As we said in the last section, the most important thing is to clean your hardwood flooring frequently. This will prevent the buildup of grit and dirt that would otherwise necessitate more intensive cleaning procedures. If there are spills, be sure to clean them up immediately and don’t allow them to set. Water is no friend to hardwood floors, and can leave white spots on the finish. To get rid of these you can gently rub them with steel wool and a mineral spirit solution. If you get a set in food stain, wipe the finish with a damp cloth, rub dry, and re-wax. Aside from regular sweeping, it’s also important to frequently mop and vacuum. Make sure your mop is thoroughly wrung out in advance; you want it damp rather than wet. As for cleaners, err on the safe side and go with a cleaner specifically intended for the type of wood your floors are made from. If you use the wrong cleaner it can damage your floors, causing the finish to peel. Be sure to avoid any cleaners that are silicone, oil, wax, ammonia, or vinegar based. Steam cleaners are a good option for those who want to avoid using chemicals.

Repairing Your Hardwood Floors

Even if you follow all of this advice, there’s still a very high chance that you’re floors will get scuffed and scratched all the same. Fear not though! There are plenty of ways to repair and conceal these surface scratches, as long as they don’t reach deeply into the wood. For light scuffs it should be a simple matter of lightly rubbing the damaged area with a damp cloth. For the more diligent scuffs, you can use a cleaning solution rather than water and steel wool rather than cloth. For shallow scratches there are a number of concealment methods, such as rubbing them with a walnut or the side of a quarter to disguise the flaw. If you want to get rid of these light scratches there is the ‘pad and recoat’ method which uses a buffer to scuff-sand the hardwood, before re-finishing. For the really stubborn scratches, that reach down into the wood itself, you’re only real option is to sand down the floors to the raw wood before refinishing. While this is an expensive and time consuming option, it is a great way to give your floors an awesome facelift. We hope that you will follow all these instructions, after having your hardwood flooring installed by Floor Coverings International of East Bay and Pleasanton!