You’re about to make a major change to the aesthetics of your home: new floors. It’s a big one! But you’re not eyeing your average floors either. No, you want to make sure that these floors are going to last you an exceptionally long time. So, what’s the best way to get your money’s worth out of your flooring? Are some kinds of flooring more durable than others? As it turns out, there are ways of ensuring your floor’s longevity from the very start. So, how do you lifeproof your flooring?
Luckily, you can keep your home’s floors looking as beautiful as ever from the moment those floors were first installed by keeping these few simple considerations in mind.
Type Of Floor
Obviously, the material you choose for your flooring is especially important, but it’s not all about aesthetics. Sure, you want to ensure that your home looks cozy and beautiful, but depending on what you choose, it may be easier to maintain that shiny goodness than you think. Both solid hardwood and engineered wood have a durable finish made from aluminum oxide and ceramic products that work together to make a protective coat that lasts for years.
But first things first, one thing to consider is your home’s overall climate. If you’re worried about high levels of humidity, consider choosing a flooring that isn’t hardwood. It’s a known fact that laminate flooring holds up better than hardwoods in humid environments, but even laminates break down over time in strong humidity. While you’re weighing your options, it’s good to know that engineered flooring has a top and bottom layer, which makes it a formidable option as well. While the top layer is composed of real wood, the bottom layer is a durable underside that works well in moist climates and can handle more humidity than other flooring types.
If humidity isn’t as much of a concern where you live, you can also consider the benefits of solid hardwood. Solid hardwood can be stripped and resurfaced many times to restore its original beauty, which is something other types of floors can’t replicate. Solid hardwood can last many generations if properly cared for, although it’s not seen as much nowadays given the cost and how far science has come with lovely (and budget-friendly) alternatives.
The installation process is crucial in making sure that your flooring not only looks amazing but that it will continue to hold up under the wear and tear of everyday life, especially when it comes to pets and kids.
You have many different options when it comes to taking proactive installation steps to prolong the life of your flooring. Some installations involve using glue between each of the planks of your floor in order to make your floor more durable, which makes sense.
Then, some people will choose to install an environmental barrier under the layer of hardwood itself. Why, you ask? An environmental barrier is a product that you can buy and lay over the ground where you’re planning to put your flooring. Obviously, then your hardwood flooring would eventually be installed directly on top of this barrier to prevent moisture from seeping into your floors if you live in a humid environment and are worried about the wood warping. Unfortunately, solid hardwoods don’t hold up well in wet, moist environments because of the warping and cracking that occurs when the wood expands after soaking up moisture.
Depending on what you choose for your wood flooring, you’ll have a choice in selecting the finish as well. Knowing the type of finish can help you decide what’s best for your home and how to take care of it. The three types of wood flooring finishes are:
• A wax finish soaks into the wood and hardens into a strong seal. It can be sanded down and reapplied if you ever want to switch up your look or want to get that shine back in your life.
• Surface finishes, or polyurethanes, are water-resistant protective coatings for your floors. Don’t use wax-based or petroleum-based cleaning products on surface finishes because they’ll damage them. Use a normal hardwood floor cleaner.
• Acrylic impregnated finishes are actually injected into the wood floors like a shot. They make your flooring exceptionally durable. You’ll usually find them in commercial spaces like malls and restaurants where a lot of people will be walking around and might not be so careful with their shoes. How you clean this depends on the exact type of finish. If your flooring has a nonurethane-based finish, you will use a buff and spray system to clean instead of following the protocol for surface finished floors.
Care And Maintenance
The most important part of lifeproofing your floors is keeping them as dry as possible. No real surprise there, right? If anything spills, you should immediately wipe it up to prevent discoloration or water damage. When you clean your beautiful floors, don’t use wet mops, steam cleaners, or wet scrubbers for the same reason. Standing water and a high level of humidity can cause your wood floors to warp and crack, which is the last thing you want!
Luckily, there are products made specifically for cleaning your floors without worrying about the possibly damaging effects of water. You don’t want the grit of dirt smudging your hallway or abrading the surface of your floors. Plus, a wet mop can dull whatever finish you picked out. The Bona Cleaning Kit is a great option with a microfiber pad on the mop and a specialized cleaner made just for hardwoods. If possible, use this system instead of other methods like wax, soap, or steel wool, which can all be more harmful than helpful.
You can always renew the finish of your hardwood floors if you think your normal sprays aren’t bringing back the sheen you know and love. A light sanding and fresh coats of finish can go a long way towards restoring the amazing look of freshly laid hardwood floors. However, revitalizing your floors through sanding should be a last resort . Frequent sanding with drum sanders can take off a lot of the wood with the top coat of finish.
Once you’ve settled into a cleaning routine, there are still other ways to make your floors life-proof. For example, by utilizing rugs and doormats, you can help protect the surface of your floors from anything that might get tracked in carelessly on the feet of your family or visitors. These can also add a splash of color to your decor. If you have rugs, move them around every so often. It not only changes up the feel to make everything fresh and new again but also lets your floors age evenly, especially for places that receive direct sunlight.
For other types of furniture, you can use felt protectors, which attach to the feet or legs of chairs and tables. That way, if it’s heavy, you can slide the furniture without worrying about scratching the wood underneath. Wheeled furniture that is particularly heavy can still leave those upsetting streaks and gouges, so choose felt protectors instead. If you’re moving something really heavy, use a wide base air tire dolly and lay down some plywood to protect your investment.
When it’s all said and done, lifeproofing your floors just requires a little bit of common sense. Flooring is made to be walked on, but there are small things you and your family can do (or refrain from doing) to make it last.
For example, very sharp high heels can be a fierce look, but they can also fiercely scratch your beautiful new floors! So, if you can’t part with your stilettos (which we completely understand!), simply slip them on in the car. This can also be an issue with cleats, so ask your kids to leave their shoes at the door, and of course, the same thing goes for any furry friends and their little claws. Keep them short and trimmed, so Fido doesn’t do anything more harmful than just shed everywhere. Protect your floors, and they will be with you and your family for years to come!