Four Keys to Preserve Hardwood Floors in Your Rentals
February 2, 2018
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Preserving Hardwood Floors in Your Rentals
Don’t underestimate the power of a good hardwood floor. Well-kept wood flooring, especially of the older variety, can be a selling point for nearly any property, and it’s important to treat it like the valuable investment that it is. We’ve talked before at Innago about easy and durable flooring options, but what are you to do about hardwood flooring that’s already a part of the property? Whether your flooring is decades-old or a recent addition, here’s how you can work with your tenants to preserve hardwood. Remember, you’re not just preserving your floors – you’re preserving property value.
Maintaining your floor depends on the finish.
The most important thing to consider when maintaining your floors is the finish they have. Applying the wrong product or cleaning technique can badly damage the wood. Surface finishes, also called polyurethane flooring, are the most popular finish in modern flooring. If your hardwood is relatively new, odds are it’s a surface finish. These finishes are resistant to water and other stains and don’t require much maintenance, so they’re a good bet if you’d like to preserve hardwood without a ton of effort. When cleaning these types of finishes, the Hardwood Distributor’s Association recommends contacting the manufacturer to find out what products are the most appropriate for your flooring. Otherwise, standard hardwood floor cleaner from the store will suffice.
Wax finishes, on the other hand, soak into the actual wood and are tougher than polyurethane finishes. While a simple sweep and mop will suffice for polyurethane, wax finishes require cleaning products specifically made for them. Purchase wax cleaning products and follow their directions.
The third most common finish is acrylic-impregnated finishes. Due to their incredible durability, these are typically used in commercial or public settings, and aren’t likely to be found in your property. If they are, you should treat them as you would a surface finish if it’s a urethane-based finish. Otherwise, use a spray and buff system.
Regular maintenance is key.
Preserving your hardwood floors shouldn’t be something you pay attention to a few times a year, especially if you have a surface finish. Such finishes are good at preventing water damage and staining but are susceptible to bits of dirt and dust becoming lodged into the wood. The best defense is regular sweeping and, less often, mopping. Areas of the floor that sustain a lot of traffic need particular attention, and placing mats at entryways will prevent much of the tracked-in dirt from reaching the floor in the first place. This can be tricky for private spaces rented by a tenant, but if you communicate the value of the floors and instruct them on some of the basics to preserve hardwood, you might be surprised by their effort.
Use the right tools to preserve hardwood.
Just as important as regular maintenance is using the correct tools when doing so. Traditional brooms are sufficient, but microfiber mops and cloths are the most efficient and gentle tools to use when sweeping. Traditional vacuums can scratch up the floor – undoing your very efforts to prevent scratches in the first place. Microfiber mops pull the dirt off the floor rather than just moving it around. When mopping, be careful not to use too much water – excess water can damage the finish. Harsh cleaning solutions can also damage the finish, which is why it’s pivotal for you to check whether a product is compatible with your floors or not.
Make it easy for your tenants to maintain the floors.
When it comes to preserving hardwood, you’re very much at the mercy of your tenants and how much attention they’re willing to give your flooring. Marching into your property every week to ensure a solid cleaning of the floors is out of the question; you’ve got other things to do, and your tenants won’t be too happy about your weekly drop-ins.
Dropping in a friendly text or email is a better way to go, but in this case your best bet is to make proper floor maintenance as easy and convenient as possible for them. Consider supplying your tenants with the proper cleaning supplies necessary to ensure a long life for your hardwood floors. When signing the contract or giving them their first tour, seize the opportunity to explain to them the equipment you’ve purchased for their use and your appreciation if they’d take the time to show the flooring a little TLC.
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5 thoughts on “Four Keys to Preserve Hardwood Floors in Your Rentals”
Thanks for pointing out that regular maintenance is a must. Like you said, it will make your floors last longer. I also appreciate that you suggested placing mats in the most traffic areas. I will definitely do that to preserve the flooring. We just wanted this type of material for our living room’s floor because its color makes the room look cozy and warm.
I’m glad you found the post helpful! And yes, a few strategically placed mats or rugs go a long way. The warmth and coziness is certainly a nice bonus!
Thank you very much for sharing this nice post. You may be apprehensive about installing hardwood flooring, but if it’s “all maintenance, all the time” that you fear, it’s time to put those fears to rest.
I recently purchased an older home with beautiful, original hardwood floors. I’m relatively new to home maintenance, so I’m not sure how to tell what type of finish/ protection my floors already have on them. Is there an easy way to tell the difference between the three types of finishes?
There are certain tests you can use to determine if your existing floor consists of a water-based, oil-based, or aluminum oxide finish. Here’s a great resource that should help: https://www.builddirect.com/learning-center/flooring/the-top-surface-finishes-for-hardwood-flooring/