Many prefer hardwood floors because of the grandness and subtle elegance they seem to automatically lend to any house or property. However, they are also the type of flooring that requires careful maintenance. New hardwood flooring is baked and sealed to protect it from damage due to factors that would have otherwise ruined older floors. Despite this, there are still many elements that can easily get through this resistance. Let’s have a close look at few of them in detail.
The biggest and most common reason behind damaged hardwood flooring is water. Though baked urethane used in manufacturing modern hardwood flooring is completely water resistant, but water when left to pool can easily penetrate the joins between the floor boards and damage it.
The biggest reason for this damage is potted plants, especially when they’re overwatered. Moreover, many plants also have natural tannins that can easily dissolve and react with iron present in the soil, resulting in the formation of “iron gall ink”. This ink is the main cause for black discoloration found on nails in older hardwood floors.
Abrasion damage is quite common on hardwood floors. Though coatings on these types of floors are resistant to scratches, they still remain susceptible to scratches due to dragging of furniture across the floor or dog claws. Extensive dirt and sand from outside can also get trapped under the rugs without rug pads and damage hardwood flooring through friction.
Area rugs can also cause extensive damage when they trap moisture underneath after spills. To prevent any problem due to moisture, it’s important to quickly wipe off any liquid spills and put effective floor protection on appliances that use water such as aquariums and potted plants.
Older hardwood flooring with scratches can be easily mended by gently sanding it down and then refinishing it. Smaller scratches can be taken care of with the help of paste of fine steel wool and wax. Modern hardwood floors, however, should be applied only with special scratch repair products that are recommended by the manufacturer.
To prevent any damage due to abrasion, you should try to use area rugs that come with superior quality rug pads in all heavy traffic areas, such as entrances and living rooms. Also place rugs under the legs of furniture that are not usually moved. Also lift furniture and chairs instead of sliding them across the floor, and avoid wearing outdoor shoes inside.
Some damages are also caused due to localized weight distribution across the floors. These are often characterized by the occurrences of small valleys under the legs of your heavy furniture pieces known as cupping. For older hardwood flooring, these cupped sections can be easily taken care of by gently sanding them until they’re leveled and then refinishing them. Modern wood flooring, however, may require complete replacement of the affected board. Smaller dents can be easily repaired by covering them with a thin cloth and then using a small steam iron to again rehydrate the wood. This will cause the affected area to swell, and will then smoothen away the dent. However, it is important to apply this technique with care.
Use of rug pad for wood floors is highly recommended for all those who want to add an extra layer of protection. However, it is important to be very careful when choosing your rug pads, because inappropriate type can do more harm than good to your flooring. In case of dents and scratches, for instance, rug pads can lessen their occurrence, or even make them worse.
When selecting a rug pad, it’s best to stay away from the ones that come with any sort of adhesive. Some rug pads come with sticky adhesive to make sure they firmly stay at one place to prevent slips and falls. But some of these products are made using chemicals and low quality PVC that can leave stains on your floors over time. Sometimes these chemicals can also react with the finish of your hardwood floors. You should also avoid using any kind of synthetic rubber as well. If you really want to be safe, it’s best to go with high quality PVC or all-natural rubber instead.
Moreover, if you’ve only refinished your hardwood floor make it a point to wait for at least one month before using any kind of rug pad. Three to four weeks are needed for hardwood finishes to properly cure and stabilize. When buying, it’s best to stick to high quality ones because investing in cheaper products will usually end up with you dealing with various problems in the long run.
Another important factor to consider when choosing your rug pads that won’t damage your hardwood floors is their thickness. Larger rugs work better with thicker pads because they provide much better comfort and protection to your floors. Thick pads also help in preventing any premature wear and they also act as a good buffer between the rug and the floor so vacuuming and grooming them is easier. Thinner rug pads, on the other hand, are best for smaller room rugs that are more prone to slipping. These pads are recommended to be placed on all high traffic areas because they offer a much better grip.
Breathability of the rug is also another factor that should be considered if you’re aiming for pads that won’t hurt your flooring. Hardwood floorings need adequate airflow to keep them looking new and fresh. Rug pads that ensure good air circulation also prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your hardwood floors as well. If you reside in a hot or humid area, you should invest in a rug pad with a moisture barrier. These rug pads are especially made with special layers that prevent moisture to pass through and stop the formation of mildew and mold.
Lastly, you should choose only environmentally friendly rugs. The rug pads you’re considering should not have any harmful chemicals, glues, or adhesives that can release harmful VOC’s in the air. Many low quality PVC pads on the market usually come without any emission or toxic filler tests and so they can be very dangerous to your health. For best results and years of use, you should buy rug pads made form 100 percent recycled felt, natural rubber base, petroleum oils, and also certified by organizations.