Ah, floors. The singlehandedly most-abused and mistreated part of a house, your flooring likely goes under more wear and tear in one day than most other areas do in a month. Before we expose the seven things that you’re doing that are destroying your floors, let’s focus on a couple of different types of flooring, because each floor is a little different:
- Hardwood floors are natural and timeless, coming in multiple shades from a deep reddish brown to a lighter pine hue. They’re a classic flooring choice, perfect for styles from modern to rustic.
- Laminate flooring looks like real wood, but actually has an imprinted textured image made to imitate wood’s look. Laminate flooring is typically made of melamine resin and fiber board material.
- Tile flooring comes in a myriad of styles, whether it’s an intricate pattern or a simpler design. Just make sure you’re wearing socks; tile floors can get a little chilly.
- Carpet floors are warm, soft, and quiet, and can make a home feel infinitely cozier. Watch out for spills, though– carpet floors can be tough to clean.
Using the Wrong Cleaning Products
Each type of flooring has a particular way to clean it, and if you don’t research the specifics for your floor, you may end up doing more harm than good. Let’s take a look at a couple of instances in which the wrong cleaning product was used for a certain type of flooring:
- Abrasive cleaners are meant to scratch away heavy stains, but when applied to wood floors, they’ll scratch away at the protective surface of your hardwood.
- Vinegar and water is a popular eco-friendly cleaner, and it’s great… as long as you keep it away from your hardwood, because this mixture can also eat away at the protective finish.
- Bleach and ammonia will get your floors squeaky clean, but they’ll also discolor the grout lines of your tile flooring over time.
- If you have steel wool, resist the urge to scrub at tile stains with it; it’ll damage the finish.
As we can see with a couple of examples, what might be right for one type of floor can completely ruin another. Stay educated and do your research; it might save your floor’s life!
Tracking in Dirt
It’s inevitable that you’re going to walk on your floors; it’s what they are made for! But do you know what is preventable? Tracking dirt into your nice, clean home! Dirt will not only soil your home and leave stains on your flooring, but it’s also horrible for hardwood floors. Essentially, dirt acts as sandpaper to your hardwood floors, and will scratch away at the finish until it’s dull.
So how can you fix this? There are two simple solutions: you can take off your shoes before entering the house, or vacuum and sweep your floor regularly. Try a shoe cabinet or hall tree. If you place it at the entryway of your home, it will encourage you and your guests to take off your shoes immediately upon entering.
Letting Stains Sit
We get it: spills don’t always occur at the most convenient time. Sometimes, something sticky will spill all over your floors, but you’re rushing to work and you don’t have a minute to spare to clean it. I’ll take care of it when I get home, you think…
But beware! This train of thought can lead to some rather nasty habits, which can lead to unfortunate consequences for your hardwood floors. This rule is applicable for pretty much all floor types: don’t let stains sit! For hardwood floors, certain substances may eat away at the top coat of protective polish (such as milk). Spills will soak and stain rugs the longer you let them stain, and nothing is worse than having a yellowed stain on your nice ivory-colored rug. Spills will discolor tile and grout, and laminate floors are also susceptible to permanent stains.
Letting Furniture Scratch Your Floors
It’s inevitable that your furniture will touch your flooring; in fact, it’s what floors were meant for! However, this does not mean that floors are impervious to damage from furniture. Each floor type that we have outlined in the introduction can be damaged by furniture. Tile, laminate, and hardwood can be easily scratched by furniture, especially when it’s dragged across the floor. Some ways to avoid this are picking up furniture when moving it, putting furniture on an area rug, or using felt pads on the feet of your furniture.
Carpet can’t be scratched, but furniture can leave indents in your carpeting that can be difficult to get out. However, there are solutions: furniture coasters, for instance, are designed to protect carpet from heavy sofa legs and distribute the weight evenly thus eliminating the weight marks.
Refinishing your hardwood floors might seem like a daunting task, but it’s definitely worth it. All wooden floors have a clear coat of protection which can become scratched up and dull over time. Hardwood floor refinishing refreshes your floors with a brand-new coat of polyurethane that will rejuvenate your floors. However, there’s only so much the polyurethane can do; if you wait too long to refinish your floors, the scratches and marks will become permanent.
In fact, you can even refinish your hardwood floors all by yourself! Some tips:
- Don’t refinish your floor if there are large gaps in between the planks, and you can see the nails that hold down the floor.
- Some floors will be easier to refinish (for instance, pine) than others (like maple). Check your wood type and do your research before refinishing your floors.
- Some floors are only 1/4” thick; if you sand and refinish a hardwood floor that’s too thin, it might wear away the entire floor.
Of course, don’t refinish your floor if you have no clue what you’re doing; you might end up saving more money in the long run by hiring a professional.
Cleaning Hardwood with Hot Water
When searching for cheap or environmentally-friendly ways to clean wooden floors, cleaning hardwood floors with hot water is a suggestion that often pops up. However, be wary of doing so, because you might be doing more harm than good. Excess moisture in your hardwood floors can lead to water damage in the wood, such as cupping.
Cupping is when the edges of the wooden plank stick up higher than the center. Additionally, extreme changes in temperature can cause warping (heat can cause wood to expand, and, when it’s cooled, contract). Although hot water might seem like a good idea, it isn’t worth the potentially expensive and irrevocable water damage you may cause to your hardwood floors.
Letting Your Pets’ Nails Grow
We love our furry friends, but they can cause incredible damage to your flooring. Pet urine can damage the protective finish on the hardwood floor, and pet nails can tear up your lovely, glossy floor. Just like dirt and furniture, pet nails can scratch your floors and, if you neglect to refinish them in a timely manner, can cause permanent damage.
The solution to this is simple and does not involve scolding your pet, who has no intention of ruining your hardwood floors. Cut your pet’s nails to prevent them from scratching the floor. If your pet’s trimmed nails still scrape up the floors, consider investing in pet booties– they’re as adorable as they are useful!