If you're thinking about selling your home in the near future, it's important to invest correctly. Certain renovations and updates don't have a great return on investment, but experts agree that installing hardwood flooring is an investment worth making.
With so many options on the market, it is important that you choose a flooring product that fits your style, and that functions well for your family. There are pros and cons to each type of flooring material, so it is important to understand the differences.
Courtesy of National Wood Flooring Association
Wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment, because trees are a renewable resource that can be regrown time and time again.
Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals (Source: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service).
Harvesting trees has minimal environmental impact. For every cubic foot of trees harvested, 1.66 are regrown (Source: USDA Forest Service).
Standing US hardwood volume currently is about 328 billion cubic feet (Source: USDA Forest Service).
Indoor air quality is better with wood floors (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency).
Wood is a carbon neutral product that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis).
Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis).
At the end of its service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis).
Wood floors last hundreds of years, so won’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options (Source: National Association of Home Builders).
While it takes most hardwood trees 40-60 years to mature, the inventory planted today won’t be needed for 100-plus years (Source: National Wood Flooring Association).
Manufacturing wood info flooring does not contribute to global warming (Source: University of Wisconsin – Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis).
1. Purchasing wood floors depletes forests.
Wood flooring is the most environmentally friendly flooring option available.
Through sustainable forest management, wood can be harvested with minimal impact on the environment because trees are a renewable natural resource. According to the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, for every cubic foot of hardwood harvested in the US, 1.66 cubic feet regrows in its place. This has resulted in a 90% increase in standing hardwood volume in the US since 1953, which currently is about 328 billion cubic feet.
In addition, because wood floors can last hundreds of years, they use fewer raw materials, energy and natural resources.
2. Cutting down trees to make wood flooring contributes to global warming.
The main cause of global warming is carbon dioxide, and wood flooring is a carbon neutral product.
During their growth life, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. This process makes wood carbon neutral. In addition, wood flooring also stores carbon throughout its service life, maintaining its carbon neutral status even after the tree has been harvested.
A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison further indicates that wood flooring production has minimal emissions for carbon dioxide and no emissions for methane, nitrogen oxide and other particulates, all of which contribute to global warming.
Courtesy of National Wood Flooring Association
Cleaning wood floors is easy. Regular maintenance includes sweeping with a soft bristle broom or dusting with a dry microfiber mop. If the floor has beveled edges, vacuum with the beater bar turned off to remove dust from between the floor boards. Clean the floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional.
Recommended Maintenance Schedule
Daily - Sweep or dust mop
Weekly - Vacuum using the bare floor setting
Monthly - Clean with recommended wood flooring cleaner
Every 3 to 5 Years - Maintenance coat
Every Few Decades - Sand and refinish
To keep wood floors looking and performing well for generations, follow these guidelines. Individual maintenance schedules will vary depending on use, wear and tear, and lifestyle.
There are other steps that can help maintain the beauty of wood floors.
Do not use vinyl or tile cleaning products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.
Use throw rugs at doorways to help prevent debris from being tracked in and scratching the floor.
Do not wet-mop or steam mop a wood floor. Water and steam can dull the finish and even damage the wood.
Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened cloth.
Do not over-wax a wood floor. If a wax floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other light traffic areas by applying wax in these spots every other waxing session.
Put stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching. Replace these often as dirt and debris can become imbedded on the pad and act like sand paper on the flooring surface.
Avoid walking on your wood floors with sports cleats and high heels in disrepair. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels with an exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture to move it and to prevent scratches.
For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug at the kitchen sink.
Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to minimize gaps.
Frequently Asked Questions: Care + Maintenance
How are polyurethane or other surface finishes maintained?
Dustmop, sweep, or vacuum regularly. Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations if known. When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish. The frequency of recoating depends on the amount of traffic. Never wax a surface-finished floor, and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.
How are wax or penetrating-stain finishes maintained?
Dustmop or vacuum regularly, and use a buffer to maintain shine. Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations if known. If buffing no longer restores shine, you may need to rewax. If so, apply a cleaner and liquid wax specifically for wood floors. Apply the wax evenly, allow the floor to dry, and buff to the desired luster. Depending on traffic, a properly maintained wood floor should need waxing once or twice a year. Be careful not to over-wax. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.
How can I clean a discolored or soiled wax finish?
If the wax finish is discolored or has dirt build-up, use a combination liquid cleaner/wax made specifically for wood flooring. Make sure it is solvent rather than water-based. Spread the liquid cleaner/wax with a cloth or fine steel wool and rub gently to remove grime and old wax. Wipe the floor clean, let it dry for about 20 minutes, and then buff.
Can cleaning products for vinyl or tile floors be used on wood floors?
No. Never use vinyl or tile cleaning products on wood floors. And never use self-polishing acrylic waxes on wood floors. These waxes cause wood to become slippery and dull. In this case, the floor must be sanded and refinished.
Can a wood floor be damp-mopped or steam cleaned?
No. Never damp mop or steam clean a waxed floor. When cleaning a surface-finished floor, follow the manufacturer's recommendations. You may generally use a dampened (near dry) mop to maintain a wood floor; however excessive moisture can cause damage as can steam cleaners. Water can dull the finish and even damage the wood. If water spills on a wood floor, immediately wipe it up with a clean cloth.
How can I prevent scratches on wood flooring?
Place walk off rugs at doorways to help protect wood floors from grit, dirt and debris. Place felt pads under furniture legs and vacuum/dust your wood floor regularly.