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Hardwood Flooring Tips

Text provided by Lumber Liquidators and NOFMA.

You can keep your car running better and longer when you regularly change your oil, check your tire pressure and keep your radiator filled with antifreeze. Your wood floors benefit from preventive maintenance just as much as your car does. The following are some maintenance tips for keeping your floors looking great for years and years.

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  • Dirt and grit act just like sandpaper on any floor. To keep grit from entering your home, use dirt-trapping, walk-off mats at all exterior doors. The National Wood Flooring Manufacturers' Association (NOFMA) recommends placing throw rugs or small sections of carpet just inside the entrances. Always remember to keep doormats clean.
  • Vacuum regularly, as often as you vacuum carpets; a brush attachment works beautifully. Don't use the beater bar; it can damage the finish. Sweep or use an untreated dust mop daily or as needed, but do not use a household dust treatment as this may cause your floor to become slick, dull the finish or interfere with re-coating. Please be aware that vacuum wheels may scratch the surface.
  • Check with the flooring manufacturer before using a microfiber pad to clean your floor. The microfibers may catch wood fibers and lift a splinter or cause a tear, exposing unfinished wood.
  • It is extremely important that the finish is fully cured (seven to 90 days, depending on the type of finish) before you place any rugs, rug pads, etc., on the floor, to keep from affecting the finish and leaving a prominent "rug print."
  • Use a rug pad with any rug placed on your wood floor. (NOTE: Kitchen mats are the exception to this rule.) For rug pads choose 100 percent nonsolvent-based waffle-type rubber, an untreated natural fiber, such as wool or jute, or 1/4-inch chopped urethane. Do not use sticky or tacky backers. The plasticizers they use can attack and discolor finish. These same plasticizers may also be present in the backer of some rugs.
  • In kitchens, use area rugs at high-spill locations and at workstations, such as the stove, sink and refrigerator. Cotton is generally the best fabric, since it is easily washed.
  • Some finishes and certain chemicals in wood are affected by ultraviolet light and heat, causing the wood and some finishes to change color, develop a patina or age. To avoid uneven appearance, move area rugs occasionally and drape or shade large windows.
  • Wipe up spills promptly with a dry cloth or paper towel. Use a slightly moistened cloth for sticky spills if necessary, but be sure to wipe the floor dry with another cloth or paper towel.
  • Keep heels on shoes in good repair, especially high heels. That also includes most boots with heels, such as cowboy boots. Heels worn away exposing steel support rods or nails will dent and scratch any floor surface, even concrete or steel.
  • Pets need a rug for drool and wet coats. Be sure to keep all toys, bones, etc., that have hard corners away from the floor. Also, be sure to trim your pet's nails regularly to avoid deep scratches.
  • Put felt fabric glides on the legs of your furniture; they allow furniture to be moved easily without scuffing the floor. Periodically clean glides, since grit can become embedded in the fabric. Replace when the glides show wear (typically six to 12 months, depending on use). Avoid casters made of hard materials like metals or hard plastics. If casters are necessary, use gray, non-marking rubber casters.
  • Older furniture with wooden or metal wheels can severely damage wood floors when moved. To avoid damage, place a felt-bottomed coaster under each wheel, allowing the piece to slide, rather than roll, when moved.

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