There is nothing quite as attractive as the warmth and richness of wood floors. Most hard floors are made from oak but other popular woods include ash, beech, birch, hickory, maple, teak and walnut. In addition to its attractiveness hardwood floors are extremely durable if they are properly finished and maintained.
Unfinished wooden floors will quickly deteriorate under even light use, as wood is an extremely porous surface. Unfinished woods are susceptible to dirt lodging in the grains, splintering of the wood fibers; abrasion caused by normal foot traffic and of course moisture, the bane of wood floors. Too much moisture will cause wood floors to shrink and crack.
To help forestall damage most wood floors made today receive a factory applied finish. In some instances the wood is heated to open the pores of the wood. Tung oil and Carnuba wax are applied to seal the wood. In another process polyurethane is used to seal the wood.
Preventive maintenance is the key to attractive and durable wood floors. One of the best prevention techniques is to use walk off mats at exterior entrances and use rugs and carpet runners in high traffic areas. Wood floors should be dusted but do not use an oily dust mop on a wood floor. The oil from the mop head may darken or stain the floor. Water is one of the most deleterious substances to wood floor. Consequently it should not be used to clean most wood floors. Dusting, vacuuming, buffing and on limited occasions a light damp moping is all that is necessary to maintain a wood floor on a daily basis.
When a wood floor becomes badly stained or damaged it is sanded to remove stains and marks. A sealer is then applied to the floor. There are many commercial wood sealers in the market today. Types of wood sealers include oil modified urethane sealers, moisture cured urethane sealers, the Swedish type sealers and water based sealers. In most instances the same sealer that was initially used on the floor must be used for subsequent applications. Repeated applications of certain types of sealers will darken the color of the floor overtime. Sanding and sealing a floor is not a frequent occurrence. Most modern wood floors can only tolerate a maximum of a three to five sanding before the entire floor must be replaced.
Surface finishes such as urethane, varnish and shellac are not recommended for many modern wood floors. Most only require an occasional waxing and buffing while certain modern treated wood floors may never require re finishing. Again it is always wise to follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the maintenance of any flooring or floor covering.