As a kid, one of the assignments my dad gave me as we moved into a new house was to make sure each chair in the living room had pads on their feet.
“These floors are brand new, Rob. And they’re wood! They can get scratched if we don’t put these pads on the chair’s feet. So, that’s your job. Put these pads on the foot of each chair.”
Seemed easy enough. I was able to lift all the chairs and put on all the pads, except for one extra. I checked and I didn’t miss any so it must’ve been an extra. Right?
Later that night, my dad put some boxes on one of the chairs and moved it out of his way when-
“Fudge.” Only I didn’t say fudge. I said the word. The big one. The queen mother of bad words. It was all over. I was dead.
The scratch was in front of my eyes. I felt awful but we got it fixed! This was during a time before pre-finished was the standard hardwood product.
Up until 10-15 years ago, most hardwood floors were installed unfinished, then finished on site. Now I’m wishing we saved that board for a good demo to go with this article.
In this article we will be covering:
- What is Hardwood
- Maintenance Checklist
- Humidity's Effects on Hardwood
- How to Take a Moisture Reading
- Acclimating Hardwood
With pre-finished hardwoods, there are low-end and high-end finishes that are baked onto the wood’s surface to create an even finish. The thickness and ingredients of the finish determine whether it is low or high-end material.
Pre-finished hardwood is typically a mix of urethane and aluminum oxide making it excellent at resisting scratches. It goes through a kiln where the mixture is heated to the wood making it last for the lifetime of the wood and making it very difficult to refinish.
Higher quality wear layers have multiple coats of thin finishes because thicker finishes scratch more easily.
However, even with the strong and durable pre-finished hardwood we buy today, there is still maintenance that is necessary in order to keep the warranty valid.
- Keep a consistent, safe humidity level (30%-50% relative humidity)
- Acclimate the hardwood correctly before installation
- Use the manufacturer recommended cleaners
- Do your regular upkeep and keep the surrounding areas clean
The humidity affects the warranty of hardwood floors. If the humidity reaches levels that are too high or too low, it could warp the wood. Warped wood can expand, shrink, bend upward and get all sorts of crazy. Needless to say, it will be ruined at this point thus voiding the warranty.
When the humidity is too low, the wood will contract which creates gaps between the boards. If the humidity is too high, the boards can cup upwards and give the floor a wavy look. You do have a chance to adjust the humidity to counteract these effects and restore the wood to its original state.
If the wood is exposed to an outright spill, however, say from a dishwasher that leaks everywhere, the damage is most likely irreversible.
Wood or pellet burning fireplaces will often pull the humidity to an unsafe level. For waterfront properties or high humidity areas, keeping the doors and windows closed with the air conditioner running acts as a de-humidifier.
To avoid any unwanted changes due to humidity, I’d recommend investing in a moisture reader, a dehumidifier or a humidifier. A moisture reader can read the moisture levels in the wood which will let you know whether or not you should adjust humidity levels.
The humidifiers will help maintain the safest moisture level possible.
Before hardwood is installed, it needs to acclimate to the location’s humidity and temperature before installation.
Acclimating the wood means that it sits in the room where you want it installed for a certain period of time. The time it needs to acclimate depends on how many inches wide the board is.
For every inch in width the board has, it must acclimate for one day (if a board is 4 inches wide, it acclimates for 4 days).
Don’t get confused between the thickness and the width of the board!
Below is an image of the thickness, this is not what determines how long you let the wood acclimate.
This is the correct way to measure the width.
There have been incidents where buyers left the wood in the garage, outside or in another room separate from the room where it was going to be installed. If that happens, it will acclimate incorrectly and may react poorly to the new room’s humidity.
Use Recommended Cleaners
The goal is to be as gentle as possible when cleaning your hardwood floor. The surface can’t take to most cleaning solutions, so if you need to use some use the ones that are recommended by the manufacturer.
Sweeping, vacuuming without a beater bar and using a microfiber cloth with some recommended cleaning solution is the way to go with hardwood floors.
The wear layer can resist scratches and dents all day, but it does not do well with harsh cleaners.
Steam mops are popular cleaning solutions and advertised specifically for hardwood floors. Be careful about these products because if you look at what it is actually doing, it is spraying moisture into your wood.
Yeah, you’re spraying moisture into your hardwood floors. I had the same reaction.
There are plenty of different hardwoods and some of them require specific care and maintenance techniques. Be sure to consult a local retailer to talk to the experts who can point you in the right direction.
Do Your Regular Upkeep
Speaking of what cleaning solutions you can and can’t use, don’t forget to maintain the wood on a regular basis.
Some warranties can be voided if the floor and surrounding areas are not kept clean and taken care of. It depends on the manufacturer, species of wood and the durability of the wood itself.
Sweep, vacuum, and be sure to use recommended mopping materials. Easy as that!
Have any questions, comments or concerns? Comment below or feel free to get in touch with one of our stores where are professional is equipped to answer your questions! It is your money that you are investing in your home, you deserve to have all your questions answered in the best way possible to get the best product possible.