What You Need to Know About Maintaining Wood Floors

Wood or timber floors are a beautiful and attractive feature for any home; they are durable and hygienic and work with just about any type of decor. They can also be painted or stained as needed, so you can change up the look of your wood floors over the years, without needing new timber slats installed. However, timber floors do need regular maintenance, including refinishing and having a fresh coat of sealant added to protect the wood from moisture, rot, and insects. Note a few things to remember about maintaining timber floors so you know yours will always look their best:

Covering over cracks and chips

If you're covering over cracks and chips on the timber surface, be sure you use wood putty meant for that species of wood; some species are denser than others and may need a type of putty that will easily stick to its surface, while other species are less dense and may allow the putty to seep into their pores. Also, you never want to cover over or fill in the spaces between wood slats. Timber slats will absorb moisture and then expand and shrink; this process is very slight so you may not notice it, but if you fill in those gaps, the slats will push against each other as they expand. This can lead to premature cracking and other damage.

Choosing a coating

A timber floor is usually sanded and then coated with a water-based or solvent-based polyurethane. The water-based poly is lighter and has fewer fumes than the solvent-based, so it's good for persons with breathing problems or anyone who might be bothered by the smell of the finish. Water-based poly offers a slight gloss and shine.

The solvent-based poly is more bothersome to the sinuses so you may need to vacate the home for a few days after it's applied. However, it leaves a shinier finish with a stronger, brighter gloss.

Bowing and cupping

If timber slats are bowed or cupped, you can often correct this by leaving a damp rag on the spot overnight; the wood will absorb the water and then expand in that area. For a faster fix, you might try a warm steam iron, placed repeatedly over the area. The warmth and the steam will also help to expand the wood in that spot, and the slat may become straight and level. If this doesn't work, you may need to simply replace the slat altogether.