Many people believe it is a massive effort to care for and maintain a real wooden floor but, thanks to the evolution of productive technology, the skills of the installers and the quality of the finishing treatments, the maintenance of a wooden floor is no longer a problem.
If cleaning problems once stopped people from buying wood flooring, things have changed now. All you have to do is take a few simple hints and give the customer the right information.
In order for a real wooden floor to conserve all its characteristics intact over the years, routine maintenance must be provided according to a plan that bears various important factors in mind: the use of the floor, the species of wood used, the type and format of the wooden elements, the technique used for laying, and the finishing treatment applied.
Another important element to bear in mind in the formulation of a maintenance plan is the size of the area to be serviced; it’s one thing to perform maintenance in a single room or apartment but another thing to service entire complexes. If all these factors are borne in mind, maintenance costs and times can be optimised, and the essential three types of maintenance operation – preventive / routine / corrective – can all be planned with precision.
Prevention is important
You may be chuckling at this thought but this is where it all starts and means a better-looking floor for a long time. These operations are focused on improving durability and resistance, and consist in maintaining constant temperature/humidity conditions; ensuring adequate air circulation that prevents the formation of condensate on the floor; replacing furniture or putting felt tips on exposed areas that might damage the surface of the floor; providing protection against aggression by mould and mildew, mainly through the ventilation of the rooms, humidity control and the sterilisation of airconditioning system filters that spread fungus spores.
The term “planned or regular maintenance” is used for a series of operations performed at programmed intervals before the floor begins showing signs of deterioration.
Cleaning operations must be performed with precision in method and, as mentioned above, differ according to the type of flooring and the specific use of the floor.
Oiled/unvarnished floors or non-glossy varnished floors
These floors can be cleaned using:
? a vacuum cleaner
? a soft damp cloth without aggressive soap but rather a maintenance-type soap (there are special soaps designed for this purpose) and then dried with a dry cloth
? a dry brush
? mild floor soap, if the floor is composed of wide, non-glossy planks
? stain removal with specific polish designed for your floor
? deep cleaning product if there is a buildup on the floor
? rags moistened and anti-slip liquid (without wax for gymnasium floors), if required
Varnished or wax-coated flooring
The most appropriate interventions consist in:
? sweeping with brooms and antistatic mops using mild soap
? the passage of a woollen rag moistened with paraffin and vinegar or, if the flooring has been treated with natural resins, the use of specific emulsions diluted in water
? stain removal with specific solvents or universal polish
? deep cleaning product if there is a buildup on the floor
? Dry polishing with a soft cloth to eliminate traces of footprints and dirt.
All these maintenance products are available from specialist wooden flooring stores. It is important to use the right product on the correct type of floor. Don’t use an oil product on a varnished floor.
Whereas the operations described above are performed frequently, there are some extraordinary treatments that may be required from time to time.
Treatment for impregnating finishes: apply specific oil product using a soft dry cloth and then polish, but this must be an actual recommended oil and not a maintenance oil.
Treatment to maintain the gloss of the finishing film: apply a blend of water and floor polish (in a maximum quantity of 30%).
Wax treatment: spread the liquid wax with a polishing machine using the nylon brushes afterwards (never apply excessive wax because it accumulates dirt and darkens the wood).
Oil treatment: spread only a very thin layer of the oil by hand or using a floorboy-type machine; if the layer is too thick it will not dry properly and will make the floor tacky.
Regeneration and deep restructuring
Depending on the condition of the flooring, either superficial maintenance or deep regeneration and renewal operations may be required by evident deterioration.
Superficial maintenance consists in merely removing the surface layer by polishing or sanding and then reconstructing the finish by applying a new layer of varnish, oil or wax. A proper sanding can only be done on a solid wooden floor because up to 2mm of the surface will be removed.
This cannot be performed on an engineered wooden floor as there will not be enough surface layer remaining; for this we would use a hard brush and deep-cleaning product.
Note that you always need to know what surface you are working with because some floors that use aluminium oxide or water-based finishes are extremely difficult to sand down.
Whenever signs of deterioration are observed, corrective maintenance must be performed through various procedures as required:
Partial and localised floor repair: re-gluing or partial substitution of wooden components; partial or total regeneration of the surface protection.
Demolition and reconstruction of damaged flooring: disassembly of the damaged floor; demolition or correction of the support; cleaning of the bottom layer; reconstruction of the laying blocks; laying of the new parquet.
Disinfestation from insects: impregnation through the injection of anti-woodworm poison into holes until the wood beneath the surface is saturated.
Disinfestation from fungus: treatments with water-based (fluorine, boron, arsenic, copper, chrome, or mercury based) or oil-based preservatives (fossil coal tar, biocide or additive complexes)
But these are normally only required when regular or preventive maintenance has not taken place.
A wooden floor is not a maintenance-free product and this must be very clearly and carefully explained to the customer, but the beauty of real wood is unsurpassed and will last many a lifetime if simple and regular maintenance and cleaning take place.