If you live in or around Wake County, North Carolina, you probably have an appreciation for hardwood floors. Many people who buy homes here specifically list "hardwoods" as one of their buying preferences. But liking how these floors look when new and maintaining them for years to come are two totally different issues. Some homeowners use the wrong cleaning agents on their floors and others harm the wood in other ways. Why do hardwood floors look dull and how can you prevent these problems?
You need to understand what type of finish your floors have to keep them looking their best. Whether you have engineered hardwoods or solid wood flooring, is the finish a polyurethane or polyacrylic urethane? If neither of these, is it paste wax?
Most people do not think to ask this question as they admire a brand new shine. But as years pass, the shine grows dull. Then you find yourself wondering why your hardwood floors look dull and how to bring back the shine.
If you do not know the type of finish on your hardwoods, you can find out. Simply find an area typically exposed to normal foot traffic. Drop a small amount of water on the wood. Watch and see what happens, to get your answer.
Does the flooring quickly absorb the drop? Or, does the water cause spotting? In either of these cases, you have unsealed hardwoods. For these floors, you should never clean with water.
Does the bead of water sit on the surface? If the floor does not absorb the drop, you have sealed hardwoods.
To test for a paste wax finish, find a spot in a hidden corner. Delicately rub steel wool over the wood. Is there a waxy gray film on the wool after doing so? If you notice this residue, your floors have been waxed.
Now you know whether you have unsealed, sealed or paste wax finished floors. Next, you can figure out what makes your hardwood floors look dull.
If you do not sweep, vacuum or dust mop your floors before using a wet mop, you are just pushing dirt around. By adding water or other liquid to the existing dirt, you make a muddy solution that builds up on the floor surface. It is important to remove dirt and debris from the floor before mopping or using a cleaning solution.
Although acrylic-based floor wax liquids claim to make your floors shine, they can actually cause clouding. These "no wax" cleaning solutions turn polyurethane and paste wax finishes milky over time. You can try using mineral spirits to clear one area at a time. But that takes elbow grease and rarely helps as much as having your floors stripped and refinished.
Even using the right cleaner can make hardwood floors look dull over time. This is the case when you use too much of the solution. In essence, you should only use the recommended amount as directed by the product label.
Anytime you wax or damp mop your hardwoods, you need to follow this up with buffing. Buffing prevents streaking on the floors. To enhance shine, buff the finish using a dry microfiber cloth or mop.
Pet nails and stiletto heels are both notorious for ruining the finish of hardwood floors. Another cause of scratches is general residue on the bottom of shoes worn from outside into your home. Prevention is the best means of keeping your hardwoods looking their best. Keep pet nails trimmed, avoid wearing high heels indoors and place a doormat inside and outside of each entrance. Otherwise, highly scratched hardwood floors need stripping and refinishing for a better shine.
Floors without a polyurethane finish are typically finished with carnauba paste wax. This creates a shine but can look dull over time and as the wax builds up. Even when you properly apply wax only annually, soon your hardwood floors look dull. You can strip this paste wax with mineral spirits or through the help of your floor refinishing experts.
No matter how gingerly you use your hardwood floors and even when you clean them with great care, all hardwoods eventually need stripping and refinishing. Solid hardwoods can go through this process several times. Engineered hardwood floors can also endure through two to three refinishing and resealing processes.
If your hardwood floors look dull, call your hardwood flooring experts at Tri-Point Flooring in Cary, North Carolina. We install and refinish hardwood floors and engineered hardwoods throughout Wake County and the rest of the Triangle Area. We can help your floors shine and look their best. Simply call Tri-Point Flooring at (919)771-7542 for a free quote.