Comprehensive Guide to Engineered Wood Floor Care: Preventative Sanding and More
Engineered wood floors are a beautiful, durable, and cost-effective alternative to solid hardwood flooring. But like all types of flooring, they require proper maintenance of wood floor to keep them looking their best. One common question that homeowners have is, “How often should I sand my engineered wood floors?” In this guide, we’ll explore the concept of preventative sanding and provide tips on maintaining your floors without resorting to aggressive sanding.
What is engineered wood flooring?
Before diving into the details of maintenance, let’s understand what engineered wood flooring is.
Engineered Wood Explained: Unlike solid hardwood, which is made from a single piece of wood, engineered wood flooring consists of multiple layers. The top layer is a thin veneer of real wood, while the underlying layers are composed of plywood or high-density fiberboard. This multi-layer construction gives engineered wood enhanced stability, making it less susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature.
The need for preventative sanding
Why Sand?: Over time, the top veneer layer of engineered wood can become scratched, dented, or worn out. Sanding removes this damaged layer, revealing a fresh layer underneath. However, because the veneer layer is thin, it cannot be sanded as often or as deeply as solid hardwood.
Preventative Sanding Defined: Instead of waiting for noticeable damage, preventative sanding is the practice of lightly sanding the floor to prevent significant wear and tear. By doing this, homeowners can extend the life of the veneer layer and keep their floors looking new for longer.
Tips for Preventative Sanding
- Lightly Does It: When sanding engineered wood, always use a light touch. Since the veneer layer is thin, aggressive sanding can quickly wear it away. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand in the direction of the wood grain.
- Clean Before You Sand: Ensure the floor is clean and free from dirt and debris. Dirt can cause additional scratches during the sanding process.
- Use the right tools: Use a pole sander or an orbital sander with a soft pad to ensure an even and gentle sanding process.
- Test a Small Area First, before sanding the entire floor, test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure you get the desired result.
Maintaining Engineered Wood Floors Without Sanding
While preventative sanding is an effective way to maintain the beauty of engineered wood floors, there are other methods to prolong the life of your flooring and reduce the need for sanding.
Dust and Sweep Regularly: Dust, dirt, and grit can act as sandpaper, scratching and wearing away the veneer layer. Use a soft broom or a microfiber mop to regularly sweep or dust your floors.
Avoid wet mopping: Water can damage engineered wood. Instead, use a damp cloth or a specialised wood floor cleaner.
Use protective measures.
Rugs and Mats: Place rugs or mats at entrances to trap dirt and moisture. Also, use protective pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches.
Avoid high heels and pet claws; these can cause dents and scratches. Ensure that pet nails are trimmed, and avoid walking on the floors with damaged heels or shoes.
Address spills immediately.
Wipe Up Spills: Any liquid can damage the finish and the wood underneath. Wipe up spills immediately using a soft cloth.
Refinish instead of sand
The Impact of the Environment on Engineered Wood Floors
Humidity and temperature fluctuations
Stability but Not Immunity: While engineered wood floors are more stable than their solid wood counterparts, they’re not completely immune to the effects of humidity and temperature. Extreme fluctuations can still cause warping or buckling.
Use a Dehumidifier: In humid climates or during wet seasons, consider using a dehumidifier in rooms with engineered wood flooring to maintain a stable environment.
Avoid Direct Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can not only fade the colour of your wood floors but also cause them to dry out and become brittle. Use curtains or blinds to protect your floors during peak sunlight hours.
Acclimation is key.
Let the Floors Adjust: Before installing engineered wood, allow the flooring to acclimatise to the room’s environment for at least 48 hours. This can prevent many post-installation issues related to environmental changes.
Care Against Common Household Threats
Protect from Water
Use Mats in Wet Areas: In areas prone to water spillage, like near sinks or under pet water bowls, use protective mats. This will help in avoiding water seeping through and damaging the wood.
Heavy objects and furniture
Be Cautious While Moving: Dragging heavy objects or furniture can severely scratch or even gouge your engineered wood floors. Always lift items or use protective pads or sliders underneath.
Chemicals and cleaning agents
Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Many common household cleaners contain chemicals that can degrade the finish of engineered wood floors or even damage the wood itself. Always opt for cleaners specifically formulated for wood floors.
Extend your life with professional assistance.
Periodic Professional Cleaning: Every couple of years, consider hiring professionals to deep-clean your floors. They possess the tools and knowledge to safely remove built-up grime without damaging the wood.
Consult Before Refinishing: If you think your floors might need refinishing or another round of preventative sanding, always consult with a professional. They can provide guidance on the best course of action based on the thickness of the veneer and the overall condition of your floors.
With these additional care tips and considerations, you can further ensure the longevity and beauty of your engineered wood floors, reducing the frequency of sanding and other intensive maintenance tasks.
The bottom line
Engineered wood floors offer the beauty of hardwood without some of the drawbacks. With proper maintenance and the occasional preventative sanding, you can keep your floors looking fabulous for years to come. Remember to always approach sanding with caution and prioritise regular cleaning and protective measures to reduce wear and tear.