Hardwood floors are a thing of beauty. They add a refined, rustic charm to your modern home, instantly adding warmth and charm. When well maintained, hardwood floors are an excellent investment, as they increase your property’s value. Typically, these floors are highly durable and can withstand minor damages caused by temperature changes, pets, tools, and toddlers. However, take extra care to avoid water damage. As tough as hardwood floors can be, water makes a formidable enemy.
The best way to keep your hardwood flooring shiny and beautiful and reduce the cost of maintenance is to protect it from water damage. To help, we’ve compiled a list of tips for preventing water damage to hardwood floors.
How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Water Damage
Check Your Plumbing
Check your plumbing before installing hardwood floors and keep an eye on it after installation. This is because water pipe leaks and flooding are some of the primary causes of water damage to hardwood floors.
Call professional plumbers to inspect your plumbing system once in a while, and make necessary repairs as soon as you notice a problem. Also, check appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines for cracks and pipe damage. The quicker you address these issues, the longer your hardwood floor will last and the lower the maintenance cost.
Keep Wet Things Off the Floor
An important step in preventing water damage to hardwood floors is keeping an eye out for wet items on the floor and removing them immediately. Muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, damp towels, and drenched furniture should not be allowed near or on your hardwood floors. These wet items transfer moisture to your hardwood floor. If it keeps happening, the moisture content will increase until it causes severe water damage. Soaked objects also promote mold and mildew growth on the surface and in the seams of your hardwood floors.
Clean Spills Quickly
If possible, always keep a dry towel nearby so you can quickly clean spills on your hardwood floors. This is perhaps the simplest way to protect your floor from water damage. Don’t let puddles of water or any other liquid, no matter how small, sit on your hardwood floor for a long time. The liquid can quickly seep into the wood and weaken it from the inside. Instead of a wet mop, which can further wear down the wood, use a dry or slightly damp cloth to clean up the mess.
Use Quality Cleaning Products
Using the right cleaning products for your hardwood floor can improve durability and keep it safe from water damage. Only use products specifically made for hardwood floors, and always read the instructions before use. Steer clear of products that promise to make your hardwood floor shine because they usually contain waxes that can actually destroy the finish on your floor and allow water to penetrate more easily.
Use Mats and Rugs
A great way to prevent water damage to hardwood floors is to cover them with mats and rugs. By placing a mat in front of your door, you can ensure that you and your guests don’t bring wet feet into the house.
Lay rugs strategically inside your home. For instance, if you have a pet, place a mat with a waterproof back under its water bowl to absorb spilled water. Rugs or mats in high-traffic areas, such as the living or dining rooms, will add a layer of protection to your hardwood floors.
Control Indoor Humidity Levels
If you don’t have a humidifier in your home, get one as soon as possible. Because of the nature of hardwood floors, changes in weather and humidity can affect the wood and cause water damage. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, humidity levels should fall between 35 and 55 percent to maintain the quality of your hardwood flooring. Humidity levels above 55 percent can trigger cupping or buckling, causing your hardwood floor planks to expand and pull up because of excess moisture. Humidity levels lower than 35 percent can cause the wood to dry out and contract.
You need to find the proper balance of humidity and maintain it. Some HVAC units have built-in humidifiers. If yours doesn’t, you can also purchase a stand-alone humidifier in the size you need. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor can help you determine if your space needs more or less humidity to keep your hardwood floors at their best.
Apply a Sealant
Applying a sealant is a great way to toughen and maintain your hardwood floors. Sealants such as polyurethane can make your hardwood floors more resistant to water. This means it takes longer for water to seep into the wood and cause damage.
Because polyurethane spreads thinly, apply at least three coats to ensure it prevents water absorption. For the best protection against water damage, reapply the sealant every three to four years. If you’d rather use a wax sealant to protect your floor, you may need to reapply once a year.
Use a Natural Oil Finish
You can use natural oils in place of wax or polyurethane to prevent water damage to hardwood floors. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil finish will serve as a good layer of protection. Unlike most sealants, natural oils don’t just sit on the surface of your hardwood floors. Instead, they penetrate deep into them and harden the wood to improve its durability.
If you’ve noticed any sign of water damage or require preventative refinishing services, count on Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods to protect and restore your beautiful hardwood floors. Don’t hesitate—contact us now for more information.