Sunday, March 18, 2012

Caring for your Hardwood Flooring

So many of us love hardwood flooring. It can showcase so many types of designs with this one element. Depending on the type of wood flooring material and color of stain, you can create hundreds of different looks. 

It can be sleek and modern, traditional and formal, or even casual and rustic. 
This type of flooring creates a beautiful backdrop for so many styles. 

But wood flooring can also be a very high maintenance choice as well. Before you decide on how to care or refinish your floors, you need to know what type of wood flooring you own. 

Modern Hardwood Flooring and Design

Traditional and Classic Hardwood Flooring

Rustic Hardwood Flooring Design

I decided to turn to the experts to help give advice on this topic. So below are some questions to ask yourself from the Hardwood Manufacturers Association

What type of finish does your floor have?
The same care and maintenance techniques are used for all finishes in good condition, but when it comes to removing stains or restoring the finish, methods differ. If you don't know what kind of finish your floor has, ask your contractor or Realtor, or try these simple tests:
Surface Finishes: (pre-finished floors, polyurethane, water-based urethane and catalyzed)
Nearly all floors installed today have surface finishes, mostly polyurethane. They are often glossy and may look like a layer of clear plastic on top of the wood. A small amount of paint remover in an inconspicuous area of the floor will cause the surface finish to bubble (unless it is a water-based urethane, in which case there will be no reaction). Surface finishes shield floors from harm by forming a protective layer on top of the wood.
Penetrating Seals: (acrylics, oils and waxes)
Oils and waxes usually have a satin or matte finish. If you can feel the wood grain when you run your hand across the surface, it's most likely a penetrating seal. Paint remover will have no effect on a penetrating seal, but wax stripper or ammonia will soften and whiten the surface. Oils and waxes penetrate the surface of the floor protecting the wood from within.

What condition is your floor in?
Follow these steps to evaluate the condition of your hardwood floor and its finish.
Finish Condition: Has the finish been worn off or is it just dirty? See if the finish is dull, chipped, scraped or gouged. To test if the finish has worn off, begin in a high-traffic area and pour one to two tablespoons of water onto the floor. If the water soaks in immediately and leaves a darkened spot, the finish is worn and water can damage the wood. If the water soaks in after a few minutes and darkens the wood only slightly, the finish is partially worn. If the water beads on top, the surface is properly sealed. Repeat this test in low- and medium-traffic areas.
Wood Condition: It the finish is worn, the wood may have been damaged. Are there stains, burns, cuts, gouges, holes, cracks or warped boards? If the wood is damaged, repair or replacement may be required before you deep clean your floor or apply a maintenance coat.

Once you have decided on the type of wood finish and condition then you can move forward in fixing the problem. Besides the typical normal wear and tear on hardwood floors such as dirt, scratches and dents, and water damage, another major problem is the sun.  I recently had a question from my Facebook Fan Page on how to  repair sun damaged floors. Depending on how large the area and how severe the damage will determine if this is a DIY project or not. The biggest issue is that the flooring has lost moisture and refinishing will be the solution to bring back it's luster. 
Sun damaged Hardwood Floors
To help protect your wood flooring, consider window film. This will also save your fabrics from fading.
Add a roller shade to help protect your flooring.

Some are easy to do if the condition is minimal but major damage you really should leave to the professionals. Make sure you check out the links inside this post to read up on tips on how to restore your floors. 

Again, hardwood floors are beautiful and work in so many design applications. Just think about the spaces you will be using the flooring and how much care you can give to your investment!

Happy Designing! 

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