How to: Maintain wooden floors
In recent years, wooden flooring has reached further than it ever has before, namely into traditionally tile-only areas like kitchens and entryways. Driven by people’s desire for a seamless flow from room to room, this trend means hardwood is subject to increased wear and moisture. Depending on the level of exposure, water and other liquids can cause wood to discolour, warp, crack or rot. You should minimize direct moisture, using water very sparingly when cleaning and wiping spills promptly. The good news is that hardwood, whether solid or engineered, is protected these days with a plastic-like polyurethane coating. However, scratching can compromise the finish, so keep surface dirt in check and avoid wearing shoes (particularly high heels) inside.
Follow the timeline below to keep your wooden floors looking great long-term.
- Daily: Remove surface dirt before it causes scratching by vacuuming with a hard-floor attachment or sweeping with a dry microfibre mop.
- Weekly: Mop with a specialty cleaner in small sections to avoid moisture sitting on the surface for too long.
- Every 3 months: Bring back shine and fill in little scratches by polishing with a water-based product.
"When you mop, use a back and forth motion, going with the grain, to avoid that hazy, streaky look.” –Melissa Maker, Founder,
Choosing a cleaner
Overly acidic or alkaline wood cleaners may ruin your floor’s finish, while oil-based products can leave a filmy residue and actually attract dust. Look for pH-neutral, residue-free solutions.
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Wood is easily affected by the air around it, so aim to keep the temperature and humidity levels in your home as consistent as possible. Avoid a change of more than 3°C on any given day and use a central or stand-alone humidifier in the winter to replicate the moisture-rich air of the warmer months.
Do's and Don'ts:
Do: Protect floors by attaching felt pads to furniture feet and laying rugs in high-traffic areas.
Don't: Use all-rubber rug pads, which can dull the wood's finish; opt for combination felt and rubber ones instead.
What you'll need
Cleaners that are tough on dirt but gentle on hardwood.
A long-standing expert on wooden floor cleaning, Bona offers a non-toxic, residue- free formula. Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, , $10.
Squeeze this almond-scented liquid directly onto the floor and mop up. Method Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner, , $7.
This mop with a replaceable pad and cleaner cartridge speeds up cleaning. WetJet Mop with Wood Floor Cleaner, , $22.