Oak floors are durable and easy to maintain. With the right attention, they can last decades – or even longer.
Oak hardwood flooring is very easy to look after. It’s tough and resistant to the kinds of minor mishaps that can spell the end of the life of a carpet. It doesn’t collect dust and dirt in the way that fibres do and damage can often be addressed relatively easily – especially if you catch it quickly. Consequently, if you look after your oak boards, you should find that they last a lifetime.
Whilst deep scratches can be sanded out and covered with a layer of wax or polish, it is best to avoid them in the first place. Dirt and grit should be swept up as soon as possible, since if you walk over it then it can have an abrasive action on the boards.
You should also protect oak hardwood floors from coasters or the legs of any furniture. Use cups for the coasters and felt protectors for tables and armchairs, particularly anything that might be moved around the room and could scrape the floor. Some footwear, such as stiletto heels, can damage oak flooring too. Areas of higher use – for example the kitchen, especially around the sink – will be prone to wearing. You can reduce this by putting down rugs in these areas.
Keep out dust
Dust can easily be swept up with a soft brush or cloth. (If you are hoovering, use an attachment that will not scratch.) This is all the regular maintenance a typical floor will require. Because there is nowhere for the dust to go, you are more likely to notice it on a wooden floor – it cannot get trapped in between the fibres as it can with a carpet. Again, though, the best way to protect your oak floor and keep it clean is to reduce the amount of dust and dirt that get into the room in the first place. Use mats just inside or outside of each room, and above all by any outside doors.
Mop up spills
Moisture can damage and stain oak flooring, and it is important that any spills are mopped up with an absorbent cloth before they can sink in. You will need to pay attention to any areas where there may be water. Keep any plant pots up on stands and off the floor so that you can see underneath them and any dampness can evaporate or be wiped up.
Every year or 18 months, or as required due to normal wear, you should polish your floor with the same oil or wax that was originally used. If there is a good reason to use a different kind of polish, check with the manufacturer or a specialist. Some finishes for oak flooring are water-based and others are oil-based, and switching from one to the other can lead to unpredictable results. If you are repairing localised damage, check the instructions carefully; you may need to sand an area of floor to allow the wax or polish to adhere properly. Sometimes, the entire floor may need to be re-polished to achieve a uniform result.