How to Prevent Damage to Timber Flooring

There are plenty of reasons to love hardwood timber flooring. It looks great, has a timeless warmth and appeal and with a little care can be expected to last a lifetime. However, as anyone with timber floors will tell you, they are prone to damage if you’re not careful. While floor sanding and polishing will repair most damage, as the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

With a little care and attention you can minimise the wear and tear that your timber floors are subjected to, which will extend the life of your floors and save you money on maintenance and repairs. Here are a few tips to help you prevent damage to your timber floors.

Regularly Clean the Floors

Cleaning a timber floor doesn’t just keep it tidy and hygienic, it also helps to prevent damage to the timber surface and finish. Grit, small stones and other debris on the floor can act like sandpaper, scratching and scuffing the surface as people walk over it.

Regularly cleaning your timber floor will remove this debris, helping you to avoid these marks. Aim to vacuum the floor at least once a week. If you have a busy household, you may also like to sweep every day or so. Not only will this make your weekly vacuum easier, it will help protect your floor throughout the week. Make sure you use a soft-bristled broom, as hard-bristled outdoor brooms can scratch a timber floor and create the very sandpapering effect you’re trying to avoid.

If you need to use water to clean your timber floor, make sure you use as little water as possible. Timber naturally absorbs water, so unnecessary exposure to moisture can be bad for the floors. It’s best to use a damp mop and dry the floor quickly.

Even if you have a sealed timber floor, be careful about mopping it. While the seal makes the timber moisture resistant, the seal does wear and may not be as effective as it once was. This is why it’s important to regularly seal your timber floor — about every eight years or so.

Once you’ve cleaned the floor, it can help to also polish it. Cleaning can dull the timber, but a quick polish will have it shining again. This can also help to enhance the natural colours and patterns of the wood. Depending on the floor polishing products you’re using, they can also provide a temporary protective layer to your floor.

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Use Mats, Rugs and Runners

Daily wear and tear to your timber floor is unavoidable, but you can minimise it by using mats, rugs and runners. Identify high-traffic areas that could use a little additional protection. These could be in the living or dining room, inside front and back doors, hallways or anywhere else that gets a lot of foot traffic. You could also look for areas where furniture is regularly scraped across the floor, like around dining room tables or office chairs. Using rugs in these areas will minimise daily wear and tear and prevent scratches and scrapes to the floor.

Your rugs should have a rubber backing or pad under them. This is so the coarse backing of the rug doesn’t rub and scratch the floor when someone walks across the rug. The backing or pad can also help to stop your rug from slipping.

Use Furniture Pads

An easy way to damage your timber floor is to drag your furniture across it. Chair and table legs can leave scuffs and scratches as you move them about. These marks can occur even when you aren’t actively trying to move furniture. For instance, regularly sitting down or getting up chairs or couches can cause them to shift about on the floor. Similarly, when tucking chairs in, it’s easy to push the chair in rather than lifting and moving it. These kinds of actions can scuff your timber floor without you even realising.

To avoid this damage, you can apply furniture pads to the feet of any furniture standing on timber flooring. These small adhesive fabric patches can easily be stuck to the furnitures’ legs. The pads provide a protective layer between furniture and flooring. They also improve resistance between these two surfaces, making it harder to accidentally move furniture around by bumping into it or using it regularly.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

High heels are great for going out, but they should never be worn on timber flooring. The heel directs your weight to a small surface area, increasing the pressure applied. This pressure can be too much for some timber floors.

Stilettos, pumps and kitten heels can all leave dents and even holes in your floor. Therefore, you need to make your timber floor a heel-free zone. Ideally, you should only be wearing clean soft-soled shoes — or no shoes at all — as these will cause the least damage.

If you have guests over, let them know beforehand that heels cannot be worn in your home. This is less embarrassing and awkward than asking guests to remove their shoes when entering your home.

Trimm Pet Claws

If you have pets, their claws can scratch your timber floor. Therefore, you need to keep their claws in check. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed, either by doing it yourself or visiting a vet or groomer. Regularly walking your pet on hard surfaces, like concrete or bitumen, can also act like an emery board, filing down your pet’s nails.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep your pet’s nails trimmed, you can also try using nail caps. These caps slide over the nails and then can be glued on. Your pet keeps their claws, but they will not do any damage to your flooring.

An alternative to this is teaching your pet to wear socks or soft-soled shoes. This can be tricky however, and often depends on the age and temperament of your pet. Make sure the sock or shoe has a non-slip grip so that your pet can move around easily.

It doesn’t take much to prevent damage to your timber flooring. Often, it’s just a few changes to habits and taking a little extra care.