Facility Managers

High Traffic Wood Floors: Five Ways to Extend Life

by Jason Brubaker

If you are searching for the best flooring material for a high traffic area, give hardwood a go. Wood flooring is an ideal option for withstanding foot traffic and activity thanks to the durability and strength of this all-natural material. Plus the look of hardwood flooring really adds character to a space.

However, if you do not take proper care and maintenance of your wood floors in high traffic areas you will experience premature aging and distress. You will most likely have to replace the wood flooring sooner than anticipated, which is an unnecessary expense that you can avoid. As with any flooring material the best way to increase the life of your wood floors is through routine maintenance and proper care. In order to help you get the most functionality out of your high traffic wood flooring check out these five tried-and-true methods.

Cleaning Supplies and Tools for Wood Floors

Once your new wood floors are installed it is time for you to invest in new cleaning supplies. Note that not all floor cleaning supplies are suitable for wood floors. For example, a floor cleaner that is used for vinyl or tile flooring can seriously damage a wood floor. In fact, most of the floor cleaning supplies and tools you find sold in stores are not appropriate for use with wood flooring.

Before you put anything on your wood floors check the label to ensure it is not going to cause irreversible damage. Once you purchase a floor cleaner do a test on a small area of the flooring. Choose an area that is out of sight in case of staining or damage. The right cleaning solution will save you thousands. However, hard surface cleaners and all-purpose floor cleaners are the wrong solutions. These chemicals lead to dull finishes and residue buildup on wood floors. Furthermore, some of these cleaners may also contain bleach or other staining ingredients that can ruin the look of your flooring.

At the same time you need to find a cleaning solution that will actually get your floors clean. Choose a pH neutral cleaning solution sold specifically for use on hardwood flooring. Here are some additional tips on ways to use wood floor cleaning supplies correctly:

  • When you clean your new wood floors do not use a damp sponge or soaked mop as both of these are bad news for wood floors. Excess water can pool up on a waxed wood floor causing damage to the wood’s surface.
  • Use only cleaners that are specifically listed as suitable for hardwood flooring. Purchase these products directly from the company that installed your wood floors for best results.

Additionally, you will need to increase the cleaning of your high traffic areas. For example, the floors in hallways and meeting spaces are exposed to far more dust, dirt, and grime. These areas of flooring will most likely require the use of more effective cleaning supplies and tools. In doing so you can prevent gunk from building up in high-traffic spaces. By taking the time to choose the right cleaning tools and supplies for your hardwood flooring you can
maintain it for decades.

Protection from Wear and Tear

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Keeping your hardwood floors clean is one step to extending the life of the flooring. However, you do not want to stop there. Choose to protect your wood flooring by investing in rugs, mats and felt protectors. Use rugs and slip-proof mats in entry ways, halls and other areas that experience more foot traffic. This will prevent the wood in these spaces to become overly worn in comparison to the rest of your wood flooring. Here are some additional tips on protecting your floors from wear and tear, thereby extending its life:

  • As noted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) a person weighing just 125 pounds and wearing high heels imparts up to 8,000 pounds of pressure when walking. If high heels are worn in high traffic areas, use additional mats for padding to protect the flooring.
  • Avoid sliding furniture or large appliances across wood flooring. Choose to use hand trucks or to lift items so to protect the floor from scuffs and scratches.
  • Use felt protectors on the bottoms of chair legs, table legs and display stands to prevent these from damaging flooring.
  • When using rugs, mats and felt protectors wash regularly and replace as needed. As these items get grimy the dirt acts like sandpaper rubbing across the surface of your wood flooring.

There is always the chance that something will be spilled or dropped on your wood floors. However, if you do everything you can to protect them from wear, tear, and damage, you will extend the life of your hardwoods.

Winterization of Wood Flooring

Wet Wood Flooring How To Fix

During the winter season, you need to maintain your wood floors through winterizing methods. Winterizing is necessary for most homeowners depending on your climate and region.

To prevent your floor from experiencing gaps in the winter season use a humidifier to bring the level of moisture in the air back up. When gaps appear between wood floorboards this can create unwanted space for dirt, bacteria and other undesirables. Additionally, the constant expansion and contraction of your wood flooring can lead to damage over the long term, such as splintering or bowing of the boards.

Another issue that arises in wintertime is the tracking of salt or calcium chloride onto floors. This is especially a concern in areas where snow and ice is a regular occurrence. The salt used to protect people from falling on slick sidewalks and steps is picked up on the soles of their shoes. If left to sit on wood flooring this salt can seriously damage the surface. To avoid this from wreaking havoc on your wood floors use a special cleaner especially for calcium chloride removal. Make sure to read the directions on the label to prevent causing further damage to the hardwoods.

Wax On, Wax Off

If you have wax finished flooring you will need to maintain this surface. Even though wax was used to add a protective coating to the surface of your wood flooring, it will not last forever if not maintained. Furthermore, wax flooring will be more likely to wear out in high traffic areas. Therefore, if you have waxed wood floors you will need to wax them over time. This will help to protect the wood flooring from high traffic use. However, not all waxed floors need to be waxed year after year.

Prior to waxing your flooring each year consider the use of buffing to help return the waxed floors to its typical shine. Before you go through with the waxing process check out the light traffic areas of the flooring. Here you might notice wax buildup, which needs to be removed. Buffing is a safe method for removing this excess wax and if done correctly it will not damage your floor’s surface. If you are concerned with damaging your wood floors with waxing or buffing consult the advice of a flooring professional, such as Nydree Flooring.

Regular Maintenance for Wood Floors

By completing regular maintenance of wood floors you can increase the lifespan of the flooring by up to 30 percent. However, to get the most bang for your buck on scheduled maintenance you want to complete the proper tasks. According to the NWFA you should use a dust mop or broom every day to clean the dust and grime from your wood flooring. Once a week use a vacuum set on the wood or bare floor setting to clean out dust from the cracks and gaps in the flooring.

While mopping with a wet mop is out of the question for wood flooring you do need to wash your floors once a month. Remember to use the proper cleaning supplies and tools for hardwoods so not to damage your flooring. If your flooring has a waxed surface you will need to maintain this with a maintenance coat every three years for high traffic spaces. For areas that experience light foot traffic you can hold out for five years before adding a maintenance coat. Note that this applies to wax or
sealant used on hardwood flooring. As for sanding and refinishing your wood floors, this sizable project will need to be tackled every few decades. If you experience high traffic on a regular basis you might want to refinish your flooring every decade depending on its condition.

Investing in Your Flooring

After investing to have the beauty and durability of hardwood floors in your space you want to make it last for as long as possible. Fortunately, with these five tips, you will be able to extend the life of your floors, even for those high traffic areas.