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Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

Why Do This?

You told us that you have hardwood floors in your house, so now we’re showing you how to take care of them! Hardwood floors add value and beauty to any room, but if you ignore them your house will look less “palace meets bedroom” and more “dive bar meets brothel.”

Difficulty:
Time: 15 minutes

What You'll Need

  • felt pads
  • broom
  • vacuum
  • mop
  • hardwood floor cleaner
  • soft cloth or sponge

How To:

  1. 1

    Prevent scratches. One of the most effective ways to preserve your hardwood floors is to place felt pads on your furniture legs. It’s also a good idea to place rugs over areas that get walked on a lot like entryways and in front of any sinks to protect against moisture. Tip: Avoid rubber-backed mats and rugs, which can damage your floor.

  2. 2

    Sweep and vacuum regularly. If you have hardwood floors, your broom is your best friend. Sweep your floors at least once a week to remove dust and dirt. It’s important to vacuum once a week as well to remove dirt from between your floor boards. It’s best to use a vacuum that doesn’t have a spinning brush (or has a brush that can be deactivated) because the bristles can damage your floor.

  3. 3

    Clean scuffs and heel marks. The best way to repair general wear and tear is to apply a cleaner specifically designed for hardwood floors about once a week. This way, you don’t run the risk of accidentally damaging the finish or color of your floor when you clean it. Always follow the instructions on the cleaner you purchase, and make sure it’s designed for the type of wood you own. When you apply the cleaner, wring your mop out thoroughly before wiping it on your floors to avoid excess water, which can warp your floors. It’s a good idea to go over the floor a second time with plain water to avoid a filmy buildup. Note: Some purists say you should avoid liquid cleaners and mopping all together on hardwood floors and just sweep and vacuum. The choice is yours!

  4. 4

    Avoid certain cleaning products. Wood floors can be damaged by things like silicone-based polish, oil, wax and ammonia. Most cleaning products specifically designed for hardwood floors won’t have these ingredients, but double check the label to be sure.

  5. 5

    Clean up spills quickly. Food and liquid bits can warp and stain your wood, so be sure to clean them up as fast as possible. You can use a damp cloth or sponge for this, just make sure to dry the area thoroughly afterwards.

  6. 6

    Repair scratches. No matter how careful you are, scratches happen. Luckily, they’re easy to fix! Simply rub a walnut (pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts also work) into the scratch so that it fills the area. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that the oil from the nut soaks in and repairs the scratch. Then, buff the area with a soft cloth.

  7. 7

    Refinishing. If your floor has become really worn down or damaged, refinishing it will restore its original shine. However, this is a laborious and expensive process that involves a lot of sanding, staining and drying time, so try the light cleaning done in step #3 before resorting to a full refinish. If you want to have a professional refinish your floors for you, it will generally cost $200-$250 for a simple recoating and much more for a full refinish, which involves sanding and several coats of finish. The exact price for a full refinish is based entirely on the square footage of the room, so it can vary quite a bit and may cost $2,000 or more if you have a lot of ground to cover.

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