3 Tips for Hardwood Floor Upkeep

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Hardwood floors remain a popular feature for homes on the market, but they are prone to scuffs and scratches. Instead, try these prevention and maintenance tips to avoid the $250 to $300 that it can cost to repair a damaged floor.

Regular maintenance 

John Tabor, owner of Tabor Design Build in Rockville, Md., recommends that homeowners sweep and mop their hardwood floors once every week or two weeks to keep them looking fresh. Homeowners should use a hardwood floor cleaner that does not contain oil, wax, vinegar or ammonia.

"How many children and dogs do you have?" Tabor asks. “If you have kids or dogs, you'll need to clean more often. They're harder on floors. Do you take your shoes off before you step on your hardwood floors? If you do, you'll have to clean less often.”

Scuffs 

Jolene Hanson, director of The G2 Gallery photography studio in Venice, Calif., has become an expert in hardwood floors. Her studio is filled with them. Getting rid of scuffs, typically left by the soles of shoes, is fairly easy. Hanson rubs them off with a white eraser or the white rubber sole of a shoe. Don't use pink erasers; the color will come off on the floor, leaving a new mark. For more stubborn marks, Hanson turns to oil lubricant like WD-40 or window cleaner.

Scratches

Hanson color-matches a variety of materials – everything from melted candle wax and wax crayons to crushed walnuts ¬– and rubs them into her floor's scratches with a soft dry cloth. Other times, she uses a stain marker to fill in the scratch. Homeowners can also contact their floor's retailer to request a touch-up kit.

On the other hand, fixing deep scratches below the surface of a floor requires careful color matching, a rented buffing machine and new coats of wax. It’s best to call a professional, unless you “are handy and are willing to accept any consequences of the repair not turning out as you hope,” Hanson says.

Prevention

Tabor says that prevention is better than repair when it comes to hardwood. This means placing felt tabs on the bottom of chairs and setting floor mats at the entry to any room with a hardwood floor. It also means cleaning up water and other spilled liquids as soon as they hit the floor.

Tags: hardwood floor, maintenance, tips