Wood floors can be a spectacular accent or focal point of any room or home. They can stay polished and glowing for years and create a sense of warmth and naturalness while they do it. Of course, wooden floors can also get scratched, faded, swollen, and warped. The following will explore a few things that you can do to take proper care of your wooden floors. The focus will be placed on both laying the floorboards and tending to them once they’re in place.

Credit: Thanos Pal

Clean And Climatize

When you’ve got a stack of gorgeous wood flooring, it’s tempting to start installing it right away. After all, you can’t wait to see what the room looks like with sleek, new flooring. Don’t do this. Wood is by nature a porous material; it absorbs moisture and changes shape and size as it does. This means that to have a better understanding of how the wood is going to fit in your space, you need to let it acclimate to the room. Leave the wood alone in the room; it’s going to be installed for at least 12 hours so that it has time to get used to the new environment. You may also want to clean the boards before doing this. It’s critical that wood is allowed to dry completely before installation if you use a damp cloth to wipe it down.

Focus On The Subfloor And Underlayment

The subfloor is the layer of flooring that your wood plants are going to be placed on. Depending on what you’re working with, the material that is best for your subfloor will vary; likely, your wood plank manufacturer will have suggestions. Typically subflooring is made of plywood or OSB, but concrete can also be common. You want the subfloor as level as possible. You also want to ensure it’s clean.

The underlayment is an additional layer that smooths out the subfloor and gives you a flat surface to work with when laying floorboards. Materials for underlayment vary, but thicker padding like foam or cork is popular as this can reduce squeaking.

Take the time to ensure your subfloor and underlayment are in top condition. They should be clean and level.

Lay The First Row

Laying the first row of flooring is where you set the standard for how straight everything is. Be sure to follow the ideal pattern for your type of wood flooring, press the board down firmly and snugly against the wall, and then check how level and straight everything is. If you get the first row correct, the rest of your floor will follow suit and be straight as well. (If your home itself is crooked, you will realize this by the time you get to the opposite corner of where you started; this is okay, it just might require a little bit of board trimming.) Try to avoid thick gaps against any of the wall edges.

Protective Coating

Wood is incredibly durable, but it’s not impervious to damage. Once the floor is laid, you probably want to cover it in a protective coating of some kind. Do your research when selecting a coating, and be sure to note the recommended re-coating intervals. Likely, your coating selection will also have recommendations for cleaning and care which should be noted as well. If you’re working with a toxic coating, be sure to properly ventilate your space and wear protective gear.

Trim, Molding, And Transitions

Once the floors are in place and any protective coatings employed are properly dry, you can add the finishing touches. Trim or molding can add a really polished look to your floors (and cover up any imperfections in levelness or alignment with the walls). It is also an integral part of keeping water, dust, and dirt from seeping beneath the floor, as the edges tend to be the most delicate in this regard. You’re also going to want to think about protective strips that can help with transitioning different floor materials between rooms. You want something that is, again, going to prevent moisture and dirt from getting beneath the floorboards

Clean And Reseal According To Instructions

Every floor sealing is going to have slightly different recommendations, but generally, you’re going to want to use gentle cleaners. Further, you’re not going to want to wash hardwood floors with water without drying afterward. Water can cause swelling and warping. Likewise, spills and leaks onto the floor should be mopped up promptly. Bright sunlight will also eventually wear out the color of the flooring, meaning that restaining wood might be needed.

The above tips should help you properly install and maintain your wood flooring. You can also take steps to mitigate damages by trimming pet nails, putting protective tabs on furniture legs, and laying carpets is particularly heavy traffic areas like under desks and tables.


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