How Can HD Clean Help?
So often we are asked at HDClean: “When you have restored my wood floor, how do I take care of it?” As an expert in the industry it is puzzling to see that so little information is available for maintaining hard wood floors.
Properly taking care of wood floors and carpet
Carpets and wood floors actually have more in common then you would think. You would think the only thing they have in common is that they are a type of floor. Not quite. When it comes to long-term performance and maintenance they have more in common then you would think.
Particles can damage like sandpaper
We know we shouldn’t wear our shoes in our homes, but let’s talk about the damage that comes from the particles we track in if we do wear our shoes. The most damaging to both carpet and hardwood flooring are the abrasive, sandy soil particles that we track in. These particles are very small and will act like sandpaper beneath our shoes.
How micro-abrasion causes damage
On carpet these tiny particles will damage the fibers and, as time goes on, will create, what our industry refers to as “traffic lane gray”. You have probably seen this in homes you have been in, especially by the garage or in front of the family room sofa. Areas where people where shoes that have the most traffic tend to have these spots. Vacuuming frequently will help, but is not a substitution for professional cleaning and regularly using protectant. Regular professional attention will extend the life of these areas and reduce the time between replacing carpet.
Here is the thing, this is true for hardwood flooring as well. These abrasive particles beneath our shoes will, do damage to the beautiful top coating over the wood that keeps your floor protected. Over time micro-abrasions causes very tiny scratches which scratch the finish on your wood.
Three types of wood flooring
Let’s talk about the three types of hardwood floors to gain an understanding of their differences:
Because it has a multi-ply structure, engineered wood is stable and won’t shrink and expand as easily as hardwood in hot and cold conditions. As with hardwood, engineered wood is generally finished in the factory these days.
Since these floors are not solid hardwood, the protective finish is a critical issue, and must be taken care of. Many engineered floors have such a small hardwood top that sanding cannot be done.
Protecting your floor with a protective finish
We have all seen what happens when wood is left out for an extended period. I believe the term we all use is “fire wood”. Wood left out to oxidize and be subjected to the sun’s powerful UV rays turns grey and is only good for fire.
Your hardwood floors are the same way. In order to avoid the destructive forces of nature your floors must be protected. Thus, the protective finish that is required for hardwood floors. Long ago floors were protected with wax or varnish and it was very labor intensive to maintain.
Polyurethane and Aluminum Oxide Protectors – The Most Common
Now protectors are usually UV cured polyurethanes, aluminum oxide urethanes or a combination of the two. Recently there has been a third finish type to arise: wax oil finishes.
These protectors are very effective in maintaining the integrity of your wood floors, they are less maintenance intensive, but not maintenance free. Of course machines have also helped with the process of maintenance.
Damage to your floor
We talked earlier about the damage the particles on our shoes cause to floors. You can, and should, vacuum and “Swiffer” on a regular bases, but that is not enough the take out the more deeply embedded particles that will make their way into the protective coating of your wood over time.
Your floor may be trying to tell you something
Those particles of sand that act like sandpaper to your floors finish. They will continually scratch and damage your floors finish right to the point that your floors will start looking dull. This is micro-abrasive wear. When you catch this early it is much like the brakes on your car when they start squealing to alert you that they need to be changed, when your floors show the first sign of dulling that is not cured by mopping and vacuuming it is a sign that the micro-abrasive wear is settling in and a professional should be called to “change out” your protective finish. From my professional experience this generally occurs around the two year mark, depending on how much attention the owner gives to taking care of their floor.
Be careful with “magic fix” store bought products
Store bought products make a lot of promises that simply are not possible to attain without the proper equipment, and possibly worse, may damage your floor. “restore the shine and luster to your floor”, “will look like new again”, etc. Unknowingly you may grab one of these bottles and apply it to your floor and see that, sure enough, your floor shines like new again… for a time.
You may have just caused damage to your floors
After just a few more times of using these products you may start to see a cloudiness appear on your floor, this is a sure-fire sign that your floors now need professional attention. That product and its promises only lasted for a very short period of time and has now come back to bite your floors. What generally happens is these products are really just a much softer wax you have applied above your much more durable wax of your floor, honestly causing a mess.
Layers of unwanted wax
now that we have several layers of wax on our floor we have a cloudy mess. The advantage here is that even though your floor now has lost it’s beauty that underlying wood is pretty well protected and bringing it back to it’s shine usually is possible in this scenario. But it is going to require a professional, or a lot of time watching Youtube videos, buying equipment, and risking some trial and error on your wood floors.
How am I going to fix the mess I created?
In order to fix this scenario you have to dissolve the wax that has built up on your hard wood floor and then properly rinse and dispose of it. Yes, you could try this on your own, but I really do not suggest this. The damage that can be done if this process is done incorrectly literally leads to ruining your floor. Please give us a call here at HDClean this is probably the most common scenario we have worked with, and we have hundreds of these types of jobs under our belt. You are not alone if you have found yourself in this situation.
Back to the original though “Now that my hardwood flooring is restored, how do I maintain it?"
It really coes down to three things to properly take care of your hardwood floor:
The dry soil removal is best done with a canister or backpack vacuum and a brush nozzle hose attachment. The reason you want this type of vacuum is that a roller vacuum brush spins very quickly and can cause micro-abrasion on its own from its harsh spins. You can also remove soil from cracks and crevasses much easier. The most important step in hardwood maintenance is dry-soil removal so consider getting a vacuum that allows for this type of removal. This is a process that should be done as regularly as dry soil comes in, that means daily if people are coming in and out of the home regularly. If you use walk offs, area rugs, or doormats this cleaning procedure frequency can be reduced.
Damp and deep soil removal
Once dry vacumming is completed, be ready to do a damp clean-up using a trusted wood floor cleaning product and a micro-fiber towel. If you need help coming up with good products or a good cleaning set up we are more than happy to answer your questions, give us a call. You can also ask a professional at your local hardware store.
Do go light with the cleaning product, a little can go a long way. And get a stock pile of clean microfiber towels, most of the work will actually be done by the towel. As far as frequency, this is very dependent on the household.
Depending on your dedication to steps 1 and 2 It’s possible you won’t have to do step 3 for a long period of time. However, at some point you are going to realize that your cleaning efforts are just not bringing out that pop in your floor anymore.
Deep cleaning not for the faint at heart
At some point even the most dedicated hardwood floor owners are going to see their floors start to dull. Some particles are just so fine that they will make their way into your protective coating and cause damage and dulling to the coating. If you are very ambitious and careful you may be able do this step on your own (Call and ask for Eric if you would like we to walk you through the steps required for hardwood deep cleaning and deep soil removal), but I highly suggest you call in a professional who has the knowledge and tools to get this done right.
Deep cleaning accomplishes a reset
As you continue your cleanings, over time you will inevitably see your floors begin to dull. Even the most meticulous of us will not be a match for the power of mother nature. When this happens it is time for that deep cleaning. We’ll precondition your floor and do a deep squeegee cleaning and rinse to get all that gunk and build-up off your floor to make clean again.
Then the final “shinning” step
Once we have completely cleaned your floors, we will use a white pad or Tampico brush buff which will give your hardwood floors a deep and lasting shine and glow. Although you could theoretically do this on your own, it is a labor-intensive process that requires knowledge, skill, and tools, that most do not have.
Professional help and advice
Why not leave this to a professional such as HDClean? Do you think you are in need of some wood floor maintenance counseling? Give us a call at 626-290-6877
"Bought a new home with beautiful hardwood floors that had not been serviced. Eric knew just how to clean and oil them and bring them back to life. Timely, professional, and very kind. Thank you!"
Give us a call today to find out how we can make your home glisten with a hardwood floor cleaning by Hi Definition Maintenance.