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As the seasons change to fall, now is a good time to think about giving your hardwood floors a good cleaning. Summer dust, sand, and dirt need to be removed before you close up the home for the winter. Not all hardwood is the same, and different types need different cleaning solutions.
Surface-sealing is a urethane or acrylic coating permanently placed over the surface of the hardwood floor, making it very resistant to spills and stains. Sweep first then use a slightly damp mop or cloth. No other cleaning products should be used.
Penetrating sealants are absorbed into the wood fibers, where they cure into a permanent coating. This is one type of wood flooring that needs to protected with paste or liquid wax to avoid damage to the wood floor surface.
Lacquered and varnished floors are surface sealed, but they aren’t as wear or spill resistant as urethanes or acrylics. They also need to be waxed like penetrating sealant floors to prevent damage and wear.
Never use ammonia, abrasives, or harsh chemical cleaners on any wood flooring. You can permanently damage it. Also never use oils or waxes on surface-sealed floors. You will leave a residue that will attract dirt and make the floor dangerously slippery. Do add a little soap to the water you use to damp mop, it will help remove dirt that water alone won’t remove, and keep the floors from looking faded or cloudy. Remember that too much water can damage the floor, so wring out your mop well, and keep rinsing it often to avoid dirt scratching the floor as you clean.
Check with the floor manufacturer about using commercial cleaners. There are cleaners designed specifically for wood floors which won’t damage the finish. They can be handy if you have a stubborn food spill or other stains that soap and water alone can’t remove.
When it is time to wax penetrating sealed or lacquered floors, you may wish to use a wax stripper first to remove old layers of wax. This can really help brighten up the floor. Don’t use any waxes that are acrylic-based, which will leave a white residue, furniture waxes, which will cause a slippery residue, or one-step waxes claiming to strip and clean in a single step, because they can leave a dirt-trapping residue.
If you have any questions about hardwood flooring or proper care of your floors, contact us at Flooring.org and let us help you get the right products for your floors, or even introduce you to some amazing new flooring products to make your life easier.