A Guide to Protecting Your Hardwood Floors

There are many benefits to having hardwood floors in your home. Hardwood floors are strong, durable and require a low amount of maintenance. They also allow for better air quality, make economic sense and are long lasting. Above all, hardwood floors are aesthetically pleasing, adding a certain amount of grace and charm to a house.

While hardwood floors might make a house luxurious, they require a certain amount of upkeep to keep their elegance. What can you do to keep your hardwood floors looking their best? Here’s a guide on protecting hardwood floors.

Keep the dirt out

Mud and dirt can pile up quickly on a hardwood floor and they’re easily tracked in by feet, shoes, boots and dog paws. To prevent scratches and scuffs, keep an eye on your footwear and maintain your pets’ claws and paws. Putting doormats at entry ways can keep the dirt out and shoes can be removed before setting foot in the house.

Make sure to keep it clean

To prevent hardwood floors from getting damaged, make sure to vacuum regularly. Don’t hesitate to sweep regularly too. If you do choose to vacuum, make sure to have it on the right setting as a carpet setting can scratch and damage a hardwood floor. Mopping your hardwood floor is another option of cleaning, but be sure to wipe up water immediately as moisture can spell disaster for your floor. Slightly wet cloths work great on hardwood floors, but make sure to wipe up any lingering water.

You may ask, what can I use on my hardwoods? Good Housekeeping provides a useful list of good floor cleaners.

Show Your Floor Some TLC

Another important step in protecting hardwood floors to maintain them with a regular cleaning regimen. Hardwood floors often require a refinish about every five years or so. Some wood floors have a protective wax layer and that usually needs reapplication once a year.

If you’re planning on refinishing your floor, take care with what sort of finishing products you use. Many finishing products contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs. What are VOCs? They’re chemicals with high vapor pressure, meaning they can easily be released at room temperature. That means you’re exposed to fumes from a wide variety of VOCs found in everyday products.

Common VOCs include benzene, formaldehyde, butanal and toluene. When it comes to flooring, Formadehyde, benzene and toluene are some of most common. Toulene is found in paint, benzene is found in paint and glue and formadehyde is found in floor finishing products and some plastics. Water-based, polyurethane is a good low VOC alternative to formadehyde.

VOCs have a great impact on air quality indoors and are emitted as gases from solids and liquids. These can range from cleaning products to degreasers to hobby products like glue. CBC Marketplace reports that VOC levels of more than 50 parts per billion (ppb) can affect people with chemical sensitivities if they are exposed to fumes. If you’re sprucing up your hardwood floors, go for an organic option and use low VOC free materials. Many VOCs dissipate after a year.

Polyurethane is a good alternative chemical to use when protecting hardwood floors, but make sure hardwoods are cured before using it. Side effects of polyurethane fumes can include a variety of breathing problems.

The best ways to go about protecting hardwood floors are to limit the amount of dirt tracked in the house, keeping a regular cleaning schedule and taking to care to use products that won’t adversely affect your floor or the air quality in your home. From maple, to cedar, to pine there are many options available for protecting hardwood floors and making your hardwoods shine.

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