Wood… one of man’s oldest natural resources, has provided floors that have lasted hundreds of years. Other floor coverings simply can’t compete with the durability, beauty & character that transcends most decorating styles.
Caring for wood floors
The type of finish on a wood floor dictates what proper maintenance steps should be followed. A homeowner should review the original floor installer’s or re-finisher’s records, which should note the finish manufacturer or type of finish applied to the floor. The finish manufacturer’s suggested maintenance procedures should always be followed.
If such data is not available, you need to determine if the finish is wax, shellac, varnish or urethane finish. If the floor was installed or last serviced before the mid 1960’s you should assume the finish used was varnish or shellac. To determine this, scratch the surface with a coin or other sharp object in a corner or other inconspicuous space. If the finish flakes, it is probably shellac or varnish. Shellac & varnish are rarely used anymore and require full sanding before you can apply a new coat of urethane or wax finish.
Next, check the floor for wax finish. In an inconspicuous area, corner or behind a door apply two drops of water, if within ten minutes white spots appear under the drops of water, the floor has a wax finish. To remove the white spots, gently rub the spots with #0000 steel wool dampened with wax.
Then you can either buff the floor and apply a new layer of wax or resand the floor and finish it with a urethane finish. Finally if the finish does not flake from scratching with a coin and white spots do not appear from the drops of water, the floor has a urethane finish and can be buffed and a new layer of urethane applied.
An ounce of prevention
Advanced finish technology and innovative products make wood one of the most easy-care flooring materials today. A few preventive measures can preserve a beautiful finish and keep maintenance to a minimum. Dirt and water are you two worst enemies. Keeping the floors clean and dry will preserve the beauty of the floor. Felt pads under the legs of tables, chairs and couches will prevent the floor from getting scratched.
Hot tips on floor maintenance
Dust mop, sweep or vacuum regularly. Clean with a manufacturer’s recommended cleaner. Re-coat the floor with a urethane finish when cleaning no longer restores the shine. The frequency of re-coating depends of the amount of traffic. A urethane floor should never be waxed, but once you wax continue to wax.
What are waxes
A wax is typically a paste, but can also be disguised as cleaners. Here is a list of product not to use on your floor. Endust, Pledge, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Wood Preen, Lemon Oil. These product will leave a wax film behind, which will prevent the urethane from bonding with the wood and in some cases the cleaner is too strong for urethane and wares off the finish too.