Engineered Flooring Maintenance, Care and Cleaning
One of the reasons people love engineered flooring, is that its easy to care for! With proper cleaning and maintenance, your engineered wood floor should provide many years of high quality luster, and durability to your home. Not to mention, if you decide to sell your home, engineered hardwood floors go a long way in helping people decide to buy your home.
Wood surfaces, even those protected by a rugged coat of polyurethane or other finish, need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Dirt and sand on the surface will act like sand paper, dulling or removing the finish. Liquids spilled on the floor, and not attended to quickly, can lead to damaged wood and staining.
This guide to engineered flooring gives you an overview of what it takes to keep engineered hardwood looking great for many years. You’ll get the most from your investment with consistent floor care and maintenance. To learn more about other aspects of engineered flooring, see our engineered floor buying guide, or price and installation guides.
Tools, Equipment and Supplies
You’ll first need something to get up the loose dust, dirt and debris. A soft broom and dustpan can be used, but for ease we like a microfiber mop like this one. You might prefer to vacuum the floor. If so, use a lightweight vacuum that does not have a rotating bristle bar or one with a “hard floor” mode that does not engage the bar.
A slightly-damp mop can be used to remove remaining debris. If excess water remains on the floor after cleaning, use a towel to dry it. If you want/like to use a cleaning solution and add a shine to your floors while cleaning then you can use a bestselling product like the Bona range of wood floor cleaners, just lightly spray your floors before using your microfiber floor mop.
For tough spots, use the manufacturer-recommended cleaner and use it as instructed. In fact, most manufacturers make cleaning kits for use with their flooring.
What you DON’T use is as important as what you do use.
- Avoid ammonia or other harsh detergents as cleaners.
- NEVER use a steam cleaner on engineered wood floors because moisture can be forced down into the wood and cause damage.
- Don’t use scouring pads or steel wool.
- Follow manufacturers instructions for your specific floor.
Refinishing or Replacing
You’ve got two options when buying engineered flooring – material that can be refinished and that which must be replaced when worn. The thickness of the wear layer – the top layer of solid wood – will determine whether or not it can be refinished. Of course, the cost of engineered flooring is also effected by the type you choose.
Some thicker flooring, usually ¾”, can be refinished more than once, significantly extending its useful life. If so, you’ll get up to 80 years of wear from it, possibly more. Thinner materials, often just 3/8”, may have a wear layer that is too thin to be refinished and will give you 10-15 years of wear.
How heavy the traffic is on the flooring and how well you care for it will have a lot to do with how long it lasts.
The different thicknesses give you options. You can make your decision based on how long you intend to live in your current home or use the building if it is a commercial setting.
Here are the most common questions related to the care and cleaning of hardwood flooring.
Q: How to clean engineered hard wood floors without using a damp mop?
A: We’ve found the best way to clean engineered hardwood floors is to avoid using water all together. There are some great microfiber floor mops that will take up dust and light dirt just as well as a damp mop.
Q: How often should I be cleaning engineered hard wood floors?
A: The short answer is as often as is needed, but like hoovering carpet, once a week is usually a good idea.
Q: What’s the best way to keep dirt off of engineered flooring?
A: Place a mat at each entryway for foot-wiping or encourage people in your household to take off their shoes when entering your home.
Q: What kind of mat is best?
A: Choose a mat that DOES NOT have a rubber backing. The rubber can trap moisture underneath it that might harm your flooring.
Q: Is there anything special that should be done in winter?
A: Place a mat outside with tough bristles on, so snow and ice can be removed from the treads. Then, do not leave shoes or boots directly on the wood surface in case snow or ice melts from them onto the floor. A plastic shoe tray works well, but be careful to dry any moisture that might get beneath it.
Q: Should engineered floors be waxed?
A: It depends on the finish. Most look better with a fresh coat of quality wax. Consult the manufacturer or the installer of the engineered flooring first.
Q: Is refinishing engineered hardwood a DIY project?
A: It can be, but you should have very good skills to consider doing it.