Keeping your hardwood floors clean is the key to having them last decades or longer! Here are some tips for protecting your investment...
Anatomy of Dirt
Dirt and dust come from many sources, all of which should be kept under control for long lasting floors. Dirt gets tracked in from outside or from different parts of the house, usually hitchhiking on shoes or pets. Look towards open doors, windows, or entryway rugs for sources of dirt. Dust typically comes from shedding skin from people or pets. Add the occasional hair or string, and you've got yourself a good dust bunny!
How This Causes Damage
Dirt and dust can cause discoloration and foot traffic breaks these elements down into grime. Over time, grime can work it's way into small cracks or the wood grain, which is difficult to remove without professional treatment. Larger dirt particles can cause scratches when pressed into the floor, opening the bare wood up to moisture. If left untreated, this can cause swelling or cracking.
Preventing the Damage
Regular sweeping, vacuuming, and cleaning of wood floors can prevent dirt from becoming a problem. Place a rug at entryways into a room to pickup the dust and dirt as it enters the room. Over time, dirt will find its way into the room, so it's good to have a professional do a Deep Clean every year or two. It's not expensive, and it'll help keep your floors from getting scratched or damaged.
If you've let the dirt go too far and you have discoloration, scratches, or cracks, consider having a professional do a new Maintenance Coat. If the floors are in really bad shape, perhaps a Complete Refinish may be appropriate. Once you've had your floor repaired, keep up on the regular cleaning! It's inexpensive and it'll make your floors look great and keep them lasting for years.