Hardwood floors are cleaner than carpet, add more value to a home than carpet, and are healthier for the inhabitants and the planet. They will last many years longer than carpet as long as they are cared for properly.
The worse enemy of wood floors is water. They can be installed in a kitchen or bathroom, but a single plumbing leak may warp the floors and require replacement of them. Any wet spills should be mopped up immediately with a soft cloth. Use a damp, not wet, soft cloth to clean up sticky substances.
A second enemy is dirt that scratches the floor as it is walked over. Keep door mats at all the home's entrance, both inside and outside the doors. Clean them regularly to keep dirt from tracking farther inside.
Sweep hardwood floors daily with a broom that has polypropylene or acrylic bristles, or vacuum them with a vacuum cleaner that has a brush or felt-type head for a bare-floor attachment. Check the cleaner wheels for sharp edges and clean any debris on them that may scratch the floor. Never use a steam cleaner or a vacuum with rotating brushes.
Once a week, clean the floor with a product approved by the floor's manufacturer. Read the directions first. After removing the loose dirt, spray the cleaner lightly and evenly over a section of the floor. Do not pour cleaner on the floor. Mop up the cleaner with a micro-fiber pad or terry cloth mop head and continue doing the other sections.
Some other steps that will extend the life of hardwood floors are:
- Do not use products containing silicone; ammonia; tung oil; citrus like lemon, grapefruit or orange; undiluted vinegar; oil soap. Do not use any kind of wax.
- Put down area rugs in places that get lots of foot traffic and keep them clean.
- Keep pets' nails trimmed and wipe wet dirty paws before they come inside.
- Do not wear shoes with sharp heels. Remove shoes at the door and wear slipper socks inside.
- Put felt pads under heavy furniture and stools that are moved frequently.
- When moving furniture across wood floors, either lift it or use a dolly. Do not drag it.
- Do not use rolling desk chairs without a pad under them.
- Keep blinds and drapes closed on sunny days to prevent bleaching of wood floors.
Better Homes and Gardens has some tips for removing marks from hardwood floors, but the attached video has some good suggestions too. With a little bit of extra care, a hardwood floor will last a lifetime.