Engineered wood floors are often the preferred choice of homeowners for flooring and this is for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that they cost less compared to other types of floors. However, wood surfaces that are protected by a layer of polyurethane or any other finish have to be cleaned regularly. So, what is the best way to clean engineered wood floor? Will just vacuuming do, or do you need some extra work to keep it looking great for years to come? The guide below gives you an overview of how to maintain an engineered floor and keep it looking great. To learn more about engineered flooring, see our engineered wood flooring pros and cons.
1. Tools needed
Do’s: The most important part in cleaning a floor is loosening up the dust, debris and dirt. Use a soft broom to remove the dust from the floor. However, if you are using a vacuum, use a lightweight vacuum. Vacuum the area that needs to be cleaned and then whatever debris has remained you can remove it with the help of a moist mop. Most homeowners feel that water should be avoided in cleaning engineered floors. Most manufacturers will give you a cleaning kit when you purchase from them.
Don’t: Often, people use steam cleaners to clean this type of floor. This should be avoided completely. This is because the steam cleaner will force the moisture to penetrate down into the wood, causing it to expand and become damaged over a period of time. Moreover, engineered wood floors should be installed in interiors where the humidity levels are in the range of 45-65%. Most manufacturers will advise you against installing them in a bathroom or kitchen.
2. How often should you clean an engineered wood floor?
There is no definitive answer to this. You should clean it as often as is needed. Cleaning it once a day is great for high traffic areas. However, if you are a homeowner with a small family, you will probably need to clean it only once a week.
3. What is the best cleaner to clean it?
You should avoid cleaning it with universal cleaners, detergents, steel wool or furniture polish. All these will make the floor greasy. The floor will appear dull and can be permanently damaged. Note that improper care practices void all warranties issued by the manufacturer. Most hardwood engineered floors are resistant to damage due to water, cola or any other sugary liquid spillage, but it is still better to mop the surface and clean it immediately after the spill. Some liquids can stain engineered wood floors if they are left for a length of time. In such cases the stains set permanently and there is no other option other than replacing the stained boards.
4. It is best to keep dirt off the flooring
Place a mat at every entrance of your house so that people may wipe their feet every time they enter the house. It is a great idea to keep your shoe-rack at the entrance of your house so that people are encouraged to take off their shoes outside before they enter your home. The mat should not have rubber underlining otherwise the rubber will trap moisture and eventually damage the floor.
5. Avoid ammoniated products
Often people use products that contain ammonia to clean their engineered floors. However, you must NEVER use ammoniated products, as they can dull your floor’s finish. A lot of people with polyurethane coated wood buy ammonia-based cleaners that are designed to clean glass. But a glass cleaner is not designed to clean wood floors and is specially designed to clean only glass surfaces. Ammonia strips the wax off the floor and is best suited for removing acrylic waxes from hardwood engineered floors. These cleaners will leave your floor looking dull and dirty and can leave a grimy residue behind.
6. How to remove sticky substances
If your child has accidently dropped candle wax or chewing gum on the floor, the best way to clean an engineered wood floor would be to apply ice to the affected area to harden the substance. Once it is hardened, gently scrape it off with a plastic scraper while taking care not to scratch the floor. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth or a moist mop.
7. Use area rugs
While mats are excellent to use at doorways, try using area rugs within the home. Area rugs will prevent damage from high heels. But even high heels and other shoes trap fine dust particles that may settle beneath the area rugs. Lift the area rugs to clean dust from under them regularly, as this dirt can scratch the floor every time a person steps on the area rug.
8. Light mop or heavy mop?
Even after regular vacuuming the wood may appear soiled. If you see that the wood’s shine is getting duller, use a damp cloth or a damp mop with a small amount of manufacturer-recommended cleaner. This will help restore the original shine. The mop should not be soaking wet because the goal here it to just remove that thin layer of dirt and then the floor dries thoroughly within minutes.
Engineered floors that get huge traffic, including that of pets, will leave the floor heavily soiled. In such cases you can use a diluted white vinegar solution, which contains one part white vinegar and three parts not-very-hot water. Wet the mop in this solution and wring it out properly to get rid of excessive water and moisture. Now mop the floor. The hot water will loosen the dirt and the vinegar will act as a cleaner, but you might not like the smell of vinegar. Overall, this will leave the floor bright and shiny.
9. Should engineered floors be waxed in order to clean them?
Before urethane was invented people used to use wax on wood floors. However, with modern technology that produces high-tech floor finishes, it is no use trying a 100-year old solution. Wax will only make the wood floor sticky, which in turn will attract dirt, pet dander and hair and other types of dirt. This will only make it more difficult to clean the floor. If you go on adding one layer of wax over the other, it will only preserve all that dirt, eventually obscuring the hardwood floor grain. Furniture sprays also act like wax and will produce the same effect as wax.
10. Avoid oil soaps and any other oil
Oil is added to soaps after the saponification process and it is meant to be absorbed into the material you are using it preventing any drying out. When you use oil soaps on the floor it won’t get absorbed by the polyurethane finished floor and instead will sit on it. Not only does this pose a safety risk, it attracts dirt. Similarly, oils like lemon oil will leave an oil coating over the floor presenting a slip hazard and attracting dirt. Thus it is important that you don’t use any oil based product to clean engineered floors.
Now that you know the important details about the best way to clean an engineered wood floor, here are a few facts.
Most damage caused to engineered wood floors is by scratching. When you are cleaning the floor and you have to remove the furniture, ensure that you have fixed felt pads to the base of the furniture legs to protect the floor from getting scratched when the furniture is moved. If the floor is exposed to the sun, it may get become discolored. You can avoid discoloration by covering it with area rugs. When you see that the floor is looking very dull and as if it has come from a 100-year-old barn, it is time to refinish it.