Reclaimed Wood Flooring Care & Maintenance

The key to maintaining wood flooring is proper and consistent care & maintenance. For everyday general maintenance of oil and poly finished flooring, keep the floor as free from dust, dirt and grit as possible. Dirt and grit are the primary cause of a dull finish and abrasions to both the finish and the wood. Below are general care and maintenance recommendations.

  • Sweep, dust mop, vacuum or wipe the floor with a slightly dampened rag as needed or at least once per week. Use only a vacuum type appropriate for wood flooring. Brooms should be soft-bristle types. The dustpan should be a ‘soft’ plastic type. Everyday food and liquid spills should be promptly cleaned with a lightly dampened cloth. Please see appropriate care and maintenance products listed below for routine use. Treated dust mops, commercially made hardwood floor cleaners and commercial waxes are not recommended.
  • Use caution when applying water to wood flooring – excessive water will damage wood flooring. Do not wet-mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and cause discoloration. Excessive water can penetrate between planks and cause damage to both the floor and subfloor.
  • Doormats or rugs on either side of all entry/exit doors are recommended. Grit and dirt tracked onto the floor is the most common cause of damage. Area rugs are also suggested for heavy traffic areas.
  • Do not use rubber, foam-back, or plastic mats as they may discolor the floor. To prevent slippage of area rugs, use a quality vinyl rug underlay. Area rugs should be moved occasionally as they block sunlight, which alters the color of the floor over time.
  • Protect bottoms of chairs, tables, couches, cabinets, and other heavy objects with felt glides. Clean and/or replace the glides on a regular basis, as they may become imbedded with dirt and grit over time.
  • When moving heavy furniture or appliances, use extra caution to avoid scratching, indentations, and gouging. Some objects may be too heavy to be moved across a hardwood floor under any circumstances. Certain types of casters may damage hardwood flooring.
  • High-heel shoes will damage wood floors and finishes. Spike or stiletto high-heel shoes, especially those in poor repair, will cause denting and related damage to hardwood floors due to the extremely high compressive force they generate. Such footwear can produce dynamic loads in excess of 1,000 pounds per square inch, even when worn by someone of slight or average build.
  • As a general rule, a humidity level of 30-to-50 percent and a temperature range of 60° to 80°F is recommended for wood flooring. Use a humidifier in dry conditions or dehumidifier in damp conditions. In some climates, the ideal humidity range may be 5% higher or lower.
  • Do not allow the environment where your wood floor resides to experience rapid fluctuations in temperature or relative humidity. Do not turn off HVAC systems or reduce heat or AC too drastically when on vacation or when leaving the space for extended periods of time.


Wood Flooring Long-Term Care & Maintenance:

The degree of wear and damage to both the finish and the wood vary dramatically from one installation to another depending on the amount of foot traffic, type of foot traffic, sun exposure, furniture movement, exposure to moisture and many other factors. A wood flooring professional with first-hand knowledge of the installation is best able to advise on long-term maintenance and refinishing.

Polyurethane Finishes:

  • Timing to refinish a wood floor with a polyurethane finish will depend upon the type of polyurethane used (oil based versus water based) and various other use factors. Oil based polyurethanes tend to last longer. Regardless of the type of polyurethane finish, the floor cannot be spot finished. If some portions of the floor are showing wear, the entire floor must be refinished. Some flooring professionals recommend a recoat every two years to keep floors looking vibrant and to ensure the proper amount of finish is protecting the floor at all times. For light traffic residential use, a polyurethane finish could last more than 7 years.
  • Polyurethane finished floors do need to be sanded prior to refinishing.

Oil Finishes:

  • Surface scratches, dents and stains can be spot treated by rubbing a small amount of oil into the area and buffing it with a cotton cloth until the affected area blends with the surrounding floor.
  • The timing for a complete oil recoat varies greatly from one installation to another, and based on the original oil product. Extreme heavy use may require a recoat every 8 months while it may be five years for other installations to need a recoat. When the surface feels too dry or rough, or begins to look starved, it is time for a recoat. Recoating should be done prior to the finish wearing off.
  • Floors finished with deep penetrating oils will need to be refreshed sooner than floors that are finished with build oil finishes. Deep penetrating oils continue to saturate into the wood and eventually leave the surface dry and starved. Build oils penetrate about 200 microns, react with the cellulose in the wood floor and become solid, thus providing better protection.
  • Oil finished floors do not typically need to be sanded prior to recoating.


Care & Maintenance Products:

  • The wood flooring finish company Bona provides a complete line of industry-standard care and maintenance products designed for polyurethane finishes (www.bona.com).
  • The wood finish company Rubio, provides high-quality, low-VOC care and maintenance products designed for oil finishes (www.rubiomonocoatusa.com). If the original oil finish was Rubio Monocoat Oil, use Rubio Monocoat Refresh when the surface feels too dry or rough. If the original oil finish was not a Rubio product, the floor can be refreshed using Rubio Monocoat Universal Maintenance Oil. If the floor was finished with a stain or tinted oil, the floor can be refreshed using clear oil if done soon enough (before the color is walked off).
  • Consult a wood flooring professional for advice on care and maintenance products best suited to specific installations.


A Note on Fire Retardant:

Fire retardants are not recommended for flooring unless approved for application on the back side of the material. Materials treated with fire retardant and finished with oil or water-based polyurethane will become cloudy with moisture contact. Care should be taken to avoid contact with moisture for wall paneling, cladding and ceiling applications that have fire retardant.

For further information please consult with a licensed wood flooring professional or the NWFA at 800.422.4556 or NWFA.org.  


The care and maintenance information included on these pages is based on recommendations from the NWFA, wood finish manufacturers and other sources. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, due to the variety of reclaimed wood products, finish products, installation techniques, installation conditions and other variables, TerraMai cannot assume any liability or suitability for the use of these recommended techniques or products. It is the sole responsibility of the installer and/or the floor finisher and cleaning professionals to adequately test and determine specific products and applications. Follow all manufacturers recommended application instructions. For more specific information, consult a licensed wood flooring installer or the NWFA at 800.422.4556 or NWFA.org.


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