Poor maintenance is a very common cause of wood floor failure. This article covers a broad outline and understanding of wood and some reasons for failures due to poor maintenance.
To understand the way a wood floor behaves is key to maintaining one correctly. A great proportion of this understanding lies with expansion and contraction. This is a theme you’ll see a lot whilst reading through this site and others, although I can’t understand why you’d want to go to another site for your wood floor information 😉
Ok, simple equations. Wood + to much water = Expansion/Swelling. Wood – not enough water = Contraction/Shrinking. This may sound a little simplified but it’s an effective way to understand the way wood floors behave, or even wood in general for that matter. You should understand that these simple equations pivot around an ideal point. The moisture content (MC) of wood should be around 8%. You would expect the relative air humidity (RH) to be around 50% for such a reading. The RH being the driving force regards the expansion and contraction of a floor. That is unless a lot of water is introduced from an outside factor i.e. A mop!
Here is the sort of damage that you would expect from an overly wet mopped floor. In this instance, it’s not the RH that’s made the wood expand. It’s the direct introduction of water. We tend to refer to this as water ingress. The picture may not look bad, but I’ve picked this to show the average damage we see from poor maintenance. The excessive water that has seeped into the joins has soaked into the wood and created a cupping effect. In our opinion this is a poorly cared for floor and less water when cleaning is key to avoiding join swelling from happening.
Another aspect to consider when maintaining a wood floor is the type of cleaning agent used. Abrasive cleaners can take the surface coating off any wood floor including engineered floors and laminate. It’s extremely important to use a cleaning product that is wood floor friendly and to carry out a simple test on an unseen part of your floor every time you change your cleaner. We can’t avoid traffic wear on a wood floor, but we can avoid damaging the surface protection from using incorrect cleaning products. The application of cleaning solutions is also important. Brillo pads or similar to remove stubborn marks are an absolute no no. These will chew through a surface lacquer in a very short space of time, leaving you with an unsightly and difficult to repair mark. A soft mop or specific wood floor applicator is always highly recommended. Should you have any difficult to remove stains, there are specific cleaners on the market to deal with these problems without damaging your floor.
The vacuum cleaner can be a quick and effective method of cleaning a wood floor. However, dragging a vacuum across a floor can be very damaging. Make sure the wheels on the vacuum rotate freely and , although easier said than done in today’s busy households, vacuum mindfully. I can here all the women shouting ‘Ha’ as they read.
It’s not just water and cleaning fluids that can damage a wood floor. Contact with abrasive or sharp moving objects can mark or wear the floor surface layer. Chair feet and coffee tables as well as any objects that are moved around should have adequate protection fitted i.e. felt pads. Roller blades, high heels and stones trapped in shoes are also something to keep an eye out for. Although fitting felt pads to everything isn’t always practical. So due diligence is also required when looking after a wood floor.
Off course most maintenance issues can be rectified by sanding a wood floor down (excluding laminates as sanding isn’t possible for that type of floor) although can be costly.
I’ve mainly talked about what can be done to maintain your floor properly and a few reasons for problems. This is all objective advice and everyone is different in what they expect or like about their floor. We come across a lot of people that don’t see some of what’s been mentioned as a problem and indeed consider some areas as a maturing factor to a room, the lived in look. If you’re happy with the look of your floor then carry on. If you see any of the signs that I’ve talked about and are concerned, then it may be time to alter your maintenance habits.
© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor