Why Wood Floors Get Deteriorate Over Time – And How You Can Protect Yours
With proper care a wood floor can last for decades. That natural beauty that it brings to the space, attributes like the high durability that enables the floor to bear high footfall, to the insulation properties that enable the installation to lower your energy bills – their continuity is all tied to the care and maintenance that the floor receives. Damages to the floor can be costly to repair. Let’s look at some of the issues that cause the floor’s structural integrity to weaken, and for the installation to lose its appeal over time.
Definitely, the floor is going to receive foot traffic, with some areas getting more than others. For instance, the region near the door, as well as the corridors in the building, will see plenty of footfall. People walking into the premises can track in dirt from the outdoors. From the debris that gets lodged in the cracks of the wood floor, to the dirt particles that are grinded against the surface under the soles of people’s shoes – these will all contribute to the gradual wear, which breaks down the finish and puts the structural integrity of the wood floor at risk.
To protect your installation, the first step is having the proper finish applied. These are the likes of floor lacquers that are developed for the particular level of traffic that is witnessed in your premises. For instance, with the Tover Idrolak DR 97, the formulation targets installations with high levels of traffic.
When applying the floor lacquer, be keen on the directions provided by the manufacturer, since these will impact the strength of the protective treatment. This ranges from the surface preparation with the sanding and final grits to be used, all through to the number of coats that are to be allowed, and the recommended drying times. For instance, with Tover Idrolak DR 97 mentioned, the drying time in between the consecutive coats being applied is 4-5 hours. Adhering to these drying times ensures that there is proper bonding between the coats, for optimal results.
Having a welcome mat also contributes to protecting the floor. This mat, positioned at the doorway, scrapes off the gunk that is at the bottom of people’s shoes, reducing the content that goes to the rest of the floor. The mat also absorbs moisture, especially for those days where it’s raining or there is snow and ice outside, where you don’t want this content getting transferred into the indoor space and putting your floor at risk.
Skipping the sweeping/vacuuming
The dirt particles are a direct threat to the floor. Their abrasive effect when being walked on accelerates the rate of wear, so allowing them to accumulate puts the floor at risk. Regular sweeping or vacuuming is required. Speaking of which, ensure you use a vacuum attachment that is suitable for wood floors. The beater bar that is used when vacuuming carpets will damage the wood floor. Turn this off, or work with a unit that has been specifically designed for use on wood floors.
When there is too much moisture in its surrounding, the wood tissue will absorb it and expand. When this is excessive there will be cupping, crowning, warping or even buckling. When there is too little moisture, then the wood tissue will lose the content in its structure, drying up and risk cracking. Seasonal fluctuations cause the changes to be cyclical, with the wood reverting back to its original sate. However, when the moisture imbalance is too high, then these changes may become permanent, altering the structure of the wood floor. This is why is insisted that the floorboards should be allowed to acclimate well to the end-use environment before the installation itself is carried out.
When it comes to issues like spills, these should be mopped up as quickly as possible. Allowing them to dwell on the surface increases the risk of water damage. Walking around the room with wet shoes, failing to have a mat or rug under the pet drinking bowl or plant pots also comes with its fair share of risk. During the routine cleaning the mop being used should be wrung out so that it is just damp, to reduce the amount of moisture that the floor is being exposed to. Better still, you can work with a spray mop, whose design allows only a minimum amount of cleaning liquid to be misted out onto the floor, minimizing the risk of damage.
Working with harsh cleaners
Using the wrong cleaning agent on your wood floor can ruin its finish and the wood itself. From corroding the finish coats, to discolouring the wood tissue and weakening its structural integrity – these are not outcomes that you want for your installation. Laundry detergents, popular DIY formulations like vinegar and ammonia-based cleaning solutions can end up doing more harm than good to your wood floor. Work with formulations that have been particularly formulated for use on wood, and before using a new product, it is recommended that you test it out on an inconspicuous section of the floor first.
The floor lacquers applied typically come with recommendations of the cleaning agent that one can use for the routine cleaning. These products will be safe for the finish coats, while still providing the required cleaning power. You can find the instructions for this on the product label, or the manufacturer’s website. For instance, with the Tover Idrolak DR 97 mentioned above, the recommended cleaning agents are neutral Pulito Parquet soap and Saniparquet detergent.
Sure, the sunlight bathing the room brightens up the space. However, on those hot sunny afternoons, there will be a higher risk to your wood floor. The effect of sunlight will vary depending on the kind of finish coats that have been applied, as well as the specific wood species that has been installed. In some wood tissues, it causes darkening, and in others there can be fading. Oil-based polyurethanes also tend to yellow over time due to the interaction with sunlight, which affects the hue of the installation – another reason why water-based polyurethanes are increasingly being preferred since they are typically non-yellowing. The effect of this will be also more distinct on the wood floor areas close to the windows.