The benefits of hardwood flooring continue to make it the preferred option in most homes despite the high initial cost and numerous flooring alternatives in the market. The existence of multiple hardwood species also contributes to the popularity of the flooring material. For instance, homeowners going for prefinished hardwood can easily get a suitable flooring material to boost property value.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
Prefinished flooring is sanded and finished at the manufacturing site. Manufacturers coat the planks uniformly to make the wood easy to install and as long-lasting as other hardwood flooring options. Despite its impressive durability, prefinished hardwood requires regular maintenance and the proper cleaning technique to prolong its lifespan.
Prefinished wood has become a favorite of many homeowners and businesses due to its ease of use. Manufacturers coat the wood boards with polyurethane before distributing them to retailers. The wood panels also undergo treatment with an aluminum oxide element that gives them an acrylic finish. Planks are treated individually, creating beveled sides. This makes them easy to install – sizing and nailing them in position is straightforward. The boards have grooves between them, forming visible separate lines after their installation.
How Do You Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors?
Should you mop hardwood floors?
Routine cleaning techniques such as mopping, dusting, and vacuuming typically work well on hardwood floors, but you should avoid using too much water. The mop should be damp enough to remove dust and grime on the surfaces and between the planks without soaking the floor. Too much moisture can damage the wood and compromise your investment.
You do not have to use special cleaning solutions – warm water is enough to get the job done. Add a small amount of mild dish soap in clean water and dip a microfiber cloth in the mixture.
Wring the cloth properly before running it over the floor to ensure no water is left pooling on the surface. Wipe any paddles you may notice quickly to prevent moisture damage. You may need a specific floor cleaner to remove oily stains. Note that since water can damage wood flooring, wet mopping should be minimal – once every month.
How to avoid streaks on the prefinished hardwood floor after mopping?
One common concern with mopping is streaks that remain on the floor afterward. You can prevent them by using a small amount of soap to avoid soaking the mop pads. Instead of using too much soap, use specialized hardwood floor cleaners to remove stubborn dirt and debris.
Also, mop the floor in sections to avoid leaving dirty water stains. Covering large surfaces could leave streaks on some parts of the floor surface. Rinse the mop often because dust tends to stick to it, creating a mess when you use it for a long time without rinsing it in clean water. Check the mop often to ensure it remains clean as you mop the entire floor.
Going over the surface with a clean and dry microfiber cloth after using a damp mop will remove any streaks.
Dusting prefinished hardwood flooring is the best way to keep it in peak condition. Using a dry cloth, gently wipe the floors. This protects your floors and keeps them luxurious and sparkling. You can use a mop head or microfiber cloth to remove debris that would otherwise cause scratches from foot traffic. Dusting daily or at least several times a week is recommended.
Prefinished flooring is susceptible to damage by hard objects. Therefore, avoid using hard-bristle brooms, and go for a soft cloth. A microfiber cloth also makes it easier to collect debris and dust. If you must, choose a broom with extra soft bristles, and pay extra attention to corners and nooks when dusting.
Vacuuming is another method recommended for cleaning prefinished hardwood floors. Ensure the brush attached to the vacuum cleaner has soft, natural bristles to prevent scratches. Ideally, the vacuum should also have smooth rubber wheels to avoid scratching the floor.
Vacuuming is the answer if you are trying to figure out how to clean dirt in the grooves of hardwood floors. It is the best way to remove pet hair and dust particles that settle in the nooks and crannies of the wood panels. Such spaces can be difficult to clean with a mop, especially on unfinished wood.
Weekly vacuuming is advisable if you dry mop frequently, but do not use upright vacuums with beater bars as they do not reach the corners and can damage the floors.
What is the best cleaner to use on prefinished hardwood flooring?
Hardwood flooring manufacturers usually recommend specific cleaners to eliminate dirt on the floors. The cleaning products come with instructions to avoid damaging your floor. Follow the guidelines to create a solution that you can use to mop the surface.
Ensure you wring the mop properly to remove excess water. Run the mop over the floor, starting with the corners and ensuring the mop does not leave streaks. Pay close attention to the dirtiest sections and remember that the cleaners may not work on all types of hardwood – a cleaner that is effective on one wood type may not work on another. Consult the flooring supplier if unsure.
Some home products may also not work on the floors. Contrary to popular belief, solutions like ammonia and oil soaps are unsuitable for hardwood surfaces. Residue from these products can cause more accumulation of dust and dirt.
Removing Stains on Prefinished Hardwood Floors
The porous nature of wood makes it highly susceptible to damage by spills. Prompt drying is the best way to reduce the extent of moisture damage and stain marks.
Use a soft cloth to wipe the area gently as soon as you notice the spill – aggressive drying will only worsen the stain by causing penetration of the liquid. Dab the liquid gently until the cloth soaks it. Wring or change the microfiber cloth if it becomes too soaked before the spillage dries. You will need a separate cloth dampened in water to clear sticky spills. Dry the area with a different towel.
If you do not notice a spill immediately and it causes a stain, use a damp cotton cloth or sponge to rub the area gently. Follow that with a solution consisting of a manufacturer-endorsed cleaning product, wiping effectively without being aggressive or overcleaning. Once the stain clears, use another microfiber cloth to buff the area and leave it to air-dry. This technique may not work for oily spills. Use floor cleaners with a high pH or the recommendations of the flooring manufacturer to remove oil or grease stains.
A common issue with spills is the potential to leave large stains after cleaning. Improper cleaning can also leave streaks after drying the surface. To avoid such problems, wipe in the same direction as the wood grain. The streaks will be less noticeable even if they are there. Buffing prefinished hardwood floors is the best way to eliminate streaks after cleaning.
Use a microfiber towel to buff the residue after removing all stubborn stains. Since prefinished hardwood floors have a coating, you will only need to polish them occasionally. You can use manufacturer-approved polish ideal for the wood grain. A microfiber cloth helps distribute the polish evenly, but ensure you leave enough curing time before walking on the floor.
Difference Between Prefinished and Unfinished Hardwood Floors
Unfinished hardwood flooring was the most popular initially, but prefinished hardwood flooring has taken over. The unfinished option is considered raw material and is easy to install and use. However, it requires sanding and refinishing regularly to maintain its stellar condition.
Prefinished hardwood does not require modifications like sanding during installation. While that may reduce the workload, it limits you on refinishing styles – you cannot re-sand the wood to create the outlook you want. Layering the prefinished planks creates perfect uniformity on the entire floor surface.
Why Choose Prefinished Hardwood?
Besides learning how to clean prefinished maple hardwood floors, compare the pros and cons of prefinished hardwood flooring before purchasing it. One of its advantages is the short installation time it takes because only minimal modifications are required. The floor is ready to use soon after placing the planks, so you can walk on it or move furniture around. Prefinished wood does not contain a chemical odor because treatment occurs in factories.
On the downside, prefinished wood comes in specific sizes, making it harder to use if you prefer various widths, lengths, or colors. Additionally, you will be forced to remove the top layers to re-sand or refinish the wood.
What is the Best Cleaning Product for Prefinished Hardwood Flooring?
The right cleaning product depends on the hardwood species. The manufacturer can also recommend the best cleaning product for your floor type. You can also use a wax-free solution from a reputable brand. Whatever product you choose, avoid spraying the solution directly on the floor. A mop head or cloth can distribute the solution more evenly on the surface and is less likely to be abrasive or cause damage. Double-check the instructions on the bottle to ensure you use the product correctly.
Note: Ammonia solutions, bleach, and oil-based products are unsuitable for hardwood floors. Some homeowners consider them the best streak-free hardwood floor cleaners, but they can damage the wood and should be avoided.
How to Maintain Prefinished Hardwood Floors
Cover high-traffic areas with rags
Flooring that gets high foot traffic, such as hallways and entryways, can succumb to wear and tear faster. Those places encounter the most debris and dirt that can scratch the floor, causing it to lose its aesthetic appeal. A stylish rug or mat can prevent damage without interfering with the aesthetics. Alternatively, you can ask your family and guests to remove their shoes when entering the house.
Pet hair can be difficult to clean, especially when it settles on the grooves of the planks. Untrimmed nails or claws can also translate to pet scratches on the flooring. Regular grooming can solve both problems. Cut the nails or pet claws to make them blunt and minimize the potential damage they can cause.
Adding rugs does not prevent scratches when moving furniture around – felt floor protectors are more effective for optimal protection. You can get the protectors from local home improvement stores and attach them to the seats, tables and other furniture. The felt protectors work best on heavy furniture, but you can place them on lighter ones as a precaution.
With time wear and tear happen naturally on hardwood floors. No maintenance routine can prevent that, but proper care can delay the dullness and scratches. Moving furniture around hinders uneven aging, which is likely to happen when specific spots remain covered throughout the year.
How do you Clean Hardwood Floors Without Damaging the Finish?
Dusting, vacuuming, and damp mopping weekly can keep the floors clean without causing damage. However, the cleaning frequency should depend on your circumstances. For instance, a household with pets or kids might require more regular cleaning than one with a few adults. Dry mopping multiple times weekly is recommended as the best cleaning measure, but you can alternate your cleaning routine according to your schedule.
How do I Make my Prefinished Hardwood Floors Shine?
Keeping prefinished floors shiny does not require expensive products or extensive labor. Dry mopping or using a damp cloth daily is the best way of keeping the floor surfaces sparkling. Use clean water to prevent streaks, and rinse the mop frequently. The cloth should be soft and absorbent to prevent excess moisture from penetrating the wood.
You can also occasionally use a dedicated prefinished hardwood floor polish to add an extra coating for protection.
Should You Wet-mop Hardwood Floors?
Hardwood floors cannot withstand excess moisture. That is why using too much water to clean them is not advisable. A dampened cloth or mop can do the job perfectly without exposing the floor to moisture-related issues. Drying the floor after using hardwood floor cleaners is also recommended.
Apart from not wet-mopping hardwood floors, you should dry spills and pooled water as soon as you notice them.
Is Vinegar Safe on Hardwood Floors?
Although vinegar has a low pH, it is a non-toxic solution that can be used in small quantities to clean hardwood floors. However, its high acidity can cause disintegration of the seal on prefinished wood, leaving dull surfaces that require more effort to shine. The more you use the vinegar, the more damage it can cause. Avoid using it in large quantities at once or in small amounts regularly. Dilute it with water – do not apply it directly on the floor, and rinse off with a clean towel.
Is Olive Oil Good for Your Hardwood Floors?
Olive oil is one of the numerous home cleaning products for prefinished hardwood floors. Although oil-based products are not ideal for wood floors, olive oil can help bring out the natural shine when combined with other products. Quantity control and limiting the frequency of usage are essential.
However, olive oil use is not a fool-proof method. The best option is to consult the manufacturer, depending on the type of wood you have, whether maple, walnut, cherry, or bamboo.
Is Baking Soda Safe for Hardwood Floors?
Abrasive cleaners can speed up the wear and tear process, and baking soda is one of them. Despite being in many home cleaning solutions, baking soda can ruin hardwood floors. The high pH level makes it a great stain remover, but it also increases the risk of damage to the wood. Baking soda should not come in contact with hardwood floors at any time.
To avoid the risk of damage, get specialized stain removers for your hardwood floors.
How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood for End of Tenancy
Most property owners consider the state of the floors before giving the deposit. As a tenant, leaving the prefinished hardwood floors in perfect condition is one of the surest ways to get your money back.
You can start with a regular cleaning routine involving dry mopping and vacuuming. You can also try a deep clean using a specialized hardwood cleaner, maintaining caution to avoid scratching the surfaces. Prevent stains from setting by wiping them off quickly. You can always hire expert floor cleaners as a last resort.
Cleaning hardwood floors is vital in keeping the aesthetics and value such an investment adds to a property. However, over-cleaning hardwood floors also has its downsides that can interfere with the quality of your investment. That is why you should rely on professional tips and services, especially if you are uncertain about how to maintain your prefinished hardwood floors. Experts know the best products and methods to remove all stains without interfering with the longevity of the flooring.
With the above tips, you do not have to worry about your floors losing their appeal due to scratches or premature wear and tear. You can be sure of luxurious and sparkling floors throughout the year.