7 Things That Can Ruin Your Hardwood Floors

Published on May 23, 2022

things that damage wood floors

Electrodry technicians have seen a lot of timber floors over the years – thousands, in fact.

So, they can attest to the fact that there is a great deal of misinformation out there about how to properly care for wood floors.

Here’s a list of your timber’s worst enemies.


What can ruin timber floors?

Timber floors, whether hardwood or engineered, are growing in popularity, and it isn’t hard to see why. They’re durable, easy to maintain, look fantastic, and when cared for properly, can last a long time.

Your floors will benefit greatly from ongoing care, enhancing their look and keeping them protected for years to come.


Electrodry is a proud member of the Australasian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA), the peak body for timber floors and the timber flooring industry throughout Australia and New Zealand.

We’ve compiled the below maintenance mistakes using our expertise plus the advice of ATFA – trust us, your timber floor will thank you.


7 Things That Can Damage Your Hardwood Floors


1. Your shoes

Heels can easily scratch hardwood floors and may even dent them, depending on the type of heel. Your best bet is to leave the heels off. In fact, we recommend taking all shoes off inside.

woman in strappy sandals sitting in living room with wood floors

Sand and grit can be brought in on the soles of footwear. Those small particles cause scratches on your floor that worsen over time.

Either leave your shoes at the door or invest in good-quality abrasive doormats, rubbing your shoes at least a few times before going inside.

You should also consider a rug in high-traffic areas such as hallways to protect the floor.


2. The wrong cleaning product

Your cleaning method can have a huge impact on the longevity and look of your timber. Knowing which cleaning products to use, however, can be confusing. There is a plethora of ambiguous advice out there, but we can lead you in the right direction.

wax build up on wood floors
Example of wax build up on timber floors taken from an actual Electrodry job

3. Your equipment

To begin with, don’t use hard-head vacuum cleaners as they can cause small scratches.

Despite what you see on infomercials, you should also avoid using a steam mop on unsealed hardwood floors, as the temperature changes and moisture may warp the wood.

woman mopping timber floors

Steam mops can cause whitening or a cloudy finish. You should always assume steam cleaning is not appropriate on a timber floor - even for sealed floors, moisture from a steam mop could still get into cracks and joints and cause damage.

Use a soft microfibre mop or mop pad, and an appropriate cleaning product, such as a neutral pH wood floor cleaner or a product that is recommended by the finish manufacturer or by floor cleaning experts like Electrodry.

Use minimal water on your floors, as too much can cause wood to swell, shrink or rot.


4. Your furniture

There are a couple of things to remember here to minimise the risk.

Never drag or slide furniture across the floor, as it can scuff and dent the boards. If you must, place a blanket or towel under all points or legs before you drag them.

placing felt pads on furniture feet

Apply protective felt pads to furniture legs to protect the floor from wear and scratches, and check the pads every couple of months to ensure they don’t need replacing or have grit collected under them.


5. Liquids

mop and bucket of water on wooden floors

As mentioned earlier, using as little water as possible while cleaning will protect the moisture balance of the timber and prevent your floors from expanding.

You should also be cleaning up spills as soon as possible as extended exposure to liquids could cause discoloration to your timber.


6. Pets

puppy lying down on wood floor

This is a simple one. Ensure your pet’s nails are trimmed and minimise any running around the house to avoid scratching the timber finish.

Have an inside pet? Try to put rugs down where you can.


7. Direct sunlight

sunbeam on hardwood floor

The last, and one of the most important maintenance tips, is to think about how much direct sunlight is hitting your floor.

Direct sunlight may contribute to possible cupping of boards, which is when the board edges are higher than the middle of the board. It could also cause discolouration over time.

Invest in curtains or blinds to filter the sunlight and rearrange furniture or rugs around when you can to evenly distribute where the sunlight is hitting.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood Floor Cleaning Products

  • We love vinegar for many chores around the home – cleaning wood floors is not one of them. Vinegar’s high acidity level means it wears down the finish on your floors over time, so it isn’t a good choice. 

  • Say no to methylated spirits too, as it can remove the varnish that protects the surface of the floors.

  • A good way to start is by checking out what your wood floor manufacturer recommends. Electrodry Wood Floor Refinishing recommends Bona Wood Floor Cleaner.

  • Don’t use too much of a product. Using more than you need doesn’t equate to a better clean. In fact, it makes the process harder, as you need to rinse more to ensure no residue is left behind.

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