4 Common Mistakes People Make with Hardwood Floors

The time has come to replace one of your old floors and you have decided to opt for a timeless hardwood floor (great choice). Those natural grains are beautiful sight to behold and a worthy investment… if you know how to treat them properly. There are some things people do without thinking that, over time, can cause lasting damage to your hardwood planks.

hardwood problems

  1. Ignoring Surface Water

Whether it’s drops of rain or spills from the dog bowl, water + hardwood = a recipe for disaster. Another common water-related error is mopping – hardwood floors are made from natural timber and are therefore very susceptible to water damage. If a leak or spill seeps into the planks, you could be at risk of cupping or crowning, resulting in a warped floor.

 

  1. Overlooking Pet Nails

A common reason for scratches in hardwood planks is caused by pets simply walking back and forth across your floor multiple times a day. If their nails aren’t closely trimmed, this daily activity can turn into a nightmare for your floor. Keep an eye out so you can quickly intervene, saving your floor from unnecessary harm.

 

  1. Forgetting Floor Protectors

Many people think that heavy furniture is immovable and solid once placed on a floor. However, even the tiniest shifts can cause extensive damage over time. Rubber or felt floor protectors placed under the legs of all furniture are a great way to reduce dents and grooves forming on the wood surface.

 

  1. Neglecting the Door Mat

If you have hardwood running through your hallway, having a door mat at the entrance is important. Using it to wipe your shoes is doubly important. When you walk in from outside, your shoes carry grit, dirt and lots of other particles that can cause abrasions or scrapes if they make regular contact with your hardwood. Over time, this can damage planks to the point where they may need fully replacing. Before entering the home, get into the habit of wiping your shoes on the mat. Or even better, remove shoes before entering.

 

Follow this simple advice to maintain your hardwood’s perfect condition. If you would like more information on caring for your hardwood floor, contact our flooring professionals at Floormania.

Cupping and Crowning in Wood Floors Part 2

Because solid timber floors are a natural product, they react to atmospheric changes more than engineered floors. This means that indoor temperatures and humidity need to be closely monitored to prevent planks from warping in response to moisture in the air. This is known as cupping (when the plank has a concave appearance) or crowning (when the plank has a convex appearance). In Part 1, we looked at cupping and crowning in more detail and what causes floors to react in this way. Part 2 will focus on solutions to fix boards that have been affected, followed by preventative measures.

 

Solutions for Cupping

Before you dive into fixing the problem, you must first pinpoint what is causing the excessive moisture under the floor and balance it with the moisture levels on the surface. Cupping will continue if the moisture imbalance is not addressed. As soon as you have addressed the problem and balanced out the moisture levels, allow the floor to re-acclimate before conducting any further actions. If planks still show signs of cupping after this equalization process, you can sand and refinish the floor to even-out the surface.

 

Solutions for Crowning

Follow the same steps for cupping by identifying the cause of the excessive moisture levels on the surface of the floor. Locate the affected area and allow to dry and re-acclimate before sanding down if necessary. If there is severe water damage, it may be too extensive to repair. To prevent this, always address the problem as soon as possible. If caught early, equalization will often solve the cupping problem with no remedial action needed.

 

Prevention Methods

The main way to prevent cupping and crowning is to keep the atmospheric levels indoor at a consistent level, adapting to seasonal changes where necessary. Wood floors naturally shrink in the winter and expand in the summer due to air temperature changes. A good way to monitor this is by installing a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels constant.

Avoid any water having direct contact with the floor surface – solid wood floors are not waterproof and any water absorption can lead to cupping or crowning. Clean spills immediately and don’t use a wet mop to wipe floor boards. Place mats under areas that are susceptible to water spills such as underneath a pet bowl or next to the sink.

 

If you notice cupping and crowning in your wood floor, try these solutions to fix the problem. You should then follow this prevention advice to keep moisture levels balanced and floors at a smooth level.

Cupping and Crowning in Wood Planks Part 1

Once installed, hardwood planks naturally react to changes in the atmosphere which can cause very slight contractions or expansions if properly maintained. This is usual in wood floors due to their moisture absorption properties. However, if planks show signs of cupping or crowning, this indicates a moisture problem and should be tended to immediately to prevent long-lasting damage. In Part 1 of this topic, we will look at cupping and crowning in more detail and what causes it.

 

What is cupping?

Instead of a floor being level, planks that are affected by cupping will be concave in appearance. It will look like the edges of the board have pushed upwards, causing a slight dip in the middle of the board.

 

What are the causes?

Excessive moisture beneath the flooring is the main cause of cupping. This moisture is absorbed by the wood on the bottom side of the planks, causing an imbalance. As there is more moisture beneath than on top, this causes boards to swell and force upwards. The dip in the middle occurs due to the bottom of the plank expanding, the top sinking inwards and the sides swelling around it.

Some causes of excessive moisture include a broken waterline beneath the floor, wet mopping causing water to seep through the planks, wrong insulation installed under the floor boards or too much dry air above boards causing that imbalance.

 

What is crowning?

Opposite to cupping, boards that are a result of crowning have a convex appearance where the middle of the plank is raised higher than the edges. This arch shape sticks out of the floor causing a bump.

 

What are the causes?

Again, an imbalance of moisture is the main cause of cupping, however this time there are higher levels of moisture on top of the boards compared to underneath. It is more common to see during warmer climates as the relative humidity inside is higher than in colder months. This causes the wood to absorb the excess moisture which can lead to planks swelling.

 

Other causes of crowning can include prolonged moisture on the surface (e.g. mopping), water leaks from appliances such as a fridge/dishwasher or spills that have been left unattended and not wiped immediately. The latter can even include things like underneath a pet’s water bowl.

The main thing to remember with cupping and crowning is that they occur due to an imbalance of moisture on either the underside or top of the flooring. In Part 2, we will be looking at solutions to fix them, followed by preventative measures you can take in the future.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Removing Stains from Floors

From food and drink spillages to children unleashing their inner artistic skills, your floor can be subject to a variety of stains and scrapes. Whatever the case may be, we want to make sure you are armed with the right tools to get your floor looking as good as new after an accidental hiccup. To prevent a stubborn stain from ruining your signature floor, follow these tips on how to remove stains for different flooring types:

 

Carpet

Although removing a carpet stain might seem like an impossible task, fear not. The important thing to remember with carpet is to blot rather than scrub to avoid rubbing the stain further into the fibres. Water mixed with mild detergent or white vinegar should remove the majority of food stains plus ink and paint. Rinse the area with water afterwards and repeat if necessary. Finish by using a paper towel to blot dry. Avoid using bleach especially on wool carpets as this can harm and discolour them.

Laminate

Renowned for it’s easy maintenance, laminate spills are quick to clean if you tend to them straight away. A paper towel or well-wrung cloth is usually enough to remove a liquid spill. If the stain is stubborn, try dampening a cloth with a few drops of vinegar mixed with water and rub the affected area. For scuff marks, an eraser can be used to rub away most of the marks followed by the water/vinegar solution.

Water damage is the main thing to avoid with laminate so ensure the area is thoroughly dry after cleaning.

Vinyl

For general stains on vinyl floors, start with a splash of dish-washing liquid mixed with water and use a sponge to rub the affected area. If the stain remains, try swapping the washing-up liquid for ammonia and diluting with water. It is important to rinse with clean water afterwards and dry thoroughly. Avoid harsh cleaners and scrubbers as this will likely cause more damage.  

Hardwood

With liquid spills on wood flooring it is important to act quickly to prevent the spill seeping into the planks. For food stains, try the dish-washing liquid and water solution and rub the area with a soft, damp cloth. Another common stain remover is a cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide and placed on the affected area for several hours to draw the stain out. Check with your flooring manufacturer before tackling wood floor stains as species and finishes can react differently to products.

If you are using chemicals to remove stains, it’s a good idea to test it in a hidden space such as underneath furniture to make sure there is no discolouration left by the cleaner. You should always check the products are recommended for your floor and finish as this will vary between households. If in doubt, call our professionals at Floormania for further guidance on stain removal.

 

Maintaining Your Bamboo Floor

Increase the longevity of your bamboo floor by following these simple cleaning guidelines.
maintaining bamboo floors
Bamboo flooring is becoming a popular eco-friendly choice among homeowners. As a highly sustainable and durable floor, bamboo is also a great cost-effective alternative to solid hardwood. With a strong aesthetic appeal, bamboo can transform any room with its contemporary and modern feel. If you maintain your bamboo floor correctly, it can last a lifetime. Here are our best tips to make sure your floor remains in tip-top condition:

 

1. Protect the surface from scratches

Particles of dirt and debris brought in from outside can cause significant damage to a floor over time. Help prevent this by placing doormats at the opening of all external doors, making sure to clean them frequently.
Attach floor protectors to the base of your furniture items, particularly those that are moved on a regular basis such as chairs. Avoid walking on bamboo flooring in heeled shoes to prevent unnecessary dents and scratches. If you are a family with pets, keep their claws trimmed regularly for the same reason.

 

2. General cleaning

For regular maintenance, you can vacuum the floor with a brush head or with the bristles down. You can also sweep the floor with a soft electrostatic broom or a flat microfibre mop.
Although bamboo is water resilient, wipe all spills promptly to prevent the boards from expanding and becoming uneven.
Mopping the floor with a neutral PH cleaner is recommended on a weekly basis to remove grime without harming the bamboo planks. Take care to use only a very small amount of water. Cleaning products specifically for bamboo floors are also available.

 

3. Be bamboo friendly

Extreme sunlight and high temperatures can damage bamboo flooring by discolouring the planks or causing them to swell and cup. To reduce this likelihood, ensure the room is well ventilated and install good quality blinds or shades.

 

4. Re-coating

Bamboo floors should not require a re-coating for several years if appropriate maintenance is sustained. If the floor begins to show signs of wear and damage, a refinish may be in order. It is essential to use an approved coating to extend the floor life. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for surface coating information.  

 

The Top 4 Causes of Hardwood Flooring Wear and Tear

Increase the Lifespan of your Hardwood Floors by Protecting Them from Wear & Tear

 

Hardwood floors are universally recognized as one of the longest-lasting flooring options.

When cared for properly, hardwood can last anywhere from 80-100 years. With just a little love and care, they can look as good as new decades after they were installed.

But active young children, heavy furniture, and large pets pose a threat to the beauty and longevity of your hardwood flooring.

To ensure you get the most out of your solid timber, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to protecting your floors from the common causes hardwood flooring wear and tear.

 

The 3 Top Causes of Wear to Hardwood Floors

 

Some things cause more damage to hardwood floors than others. These include:

 

1)     Water and Moisture:

 

Hardwood is incredibly sensitive to any amount of moisture. Even mopping with more than just a damp cloth can cause irreversible damage to a floor. Before setting out to clean your solid timber, read this post about things to avoid while cleaning hardwood flooring.

 

2)     Dirty Shoes

Although hardwood planks are protected by a thin finish, the dirt and debris left on the bottom of a shoe can easily damage the finish and create an abundance of small scratches throughout your floor.

Protect your floor from wear by ensuring shoes are not worn inside.

The moment your new timber planks are installed, it’s time to stop allowing shoes to be worn indoors. Place a shoe rack or mat by your door to encourage family members and guests to remove their footwear upon entering the home.

 

3)     Heavy Furniture

 

Heavy-set furniture like sofas, tables, and bookshelves can quickly scratch or dent your hardwood floor if proper steps aren’t taken. To prevent damage to your floor, try using area rugs or furniture glides on all furniture pieces.

 

4)     Young Children

 

Young children are full of energy. With so much fun to be had, the last thing on their mind is protecting new hardwood floors from scratches and water damage.

Protect your wood floor from accidental damage caused by young children using the following tips:

  • Avoid using the floor as a “road” for toys: Toys with wheels (like trains and cars) may seem innocent, but they can quickly scratch your floor even if they are light in weight.
  • Painting: Small drops of paint can easily find their way onto your floor. If you must use your floor as the stage for any arts and crafts, lay a large piece of newspaper or cloth down over the floor first.
  • Accidental Spills: As young children learn to use eating utensils, there are bound to be a few accidental spills during their learning curve. To protect your floors, encourage young children to sit while eating and drinking. Parents with toddlers who are transitioning from bottles to cups can use “sippy cups” to prevent spills.

 

By taking a little time each day to wipe-up small spills, remove your shoes before walking through the home, and monitoring the activities of young children, you can prevent hardwood flooring wear and tear and enjoy your floors for years to come.

For more information about caring for your hardwood floors, we recommend reading “The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors.”