First, let me preface this by saying that ALL hardwood scratches. It's just a matter of time. Yes, some are harder than others and yes, some have a bit more scratch protection than others. Anyone that tells you the hardwood flooring won't scratch isn't telling the truth. So given that all hardwood will scratch, here are some tips to MINIMIZE the scratches and prolong the life of your hardwood floors.
By far, the #1 culprit of scratches is dirt/grit, so do whatever you can to minimize this.
1. Take off your shoes! It is amazing how large an impact this can have on your floor. I just went to a repeat customer's home...a rental. We installed the hardwood over 2 yrs ago and it looks like the job was done yesterday. I'd love to take credit for it,but I can't...That is the impact that removing your shoes has...even with renters! To make life simpler, add a plastic or rubber bin by the door to make it convenient for you and your guests to place their shoes. Maybe even add a bench near the door.
2. Add entry mats at the doorways. Water (and snow/salt) are the worst culprits and the areas by the door tend to wear down the fastest because of this. So, you should protect these areas. Get entrance mats - one for outside and one for inside the door. (And if you have an overhang above the front door that also helps).
3. Add felt pads to the furniture, and get extras. The felt pads can make a big difference and they are especially important for chairs that move the most. Most people do not move the heavier items such as couches that often. I advise my customers to buy extra felt pads as they tend to fall off often especially on chair that are moved frequently.
4. Avoid chairs with rollers. These really scratch up floors as dirt and grit tends to get caught in them. Either avoid them, or get mats for under these areas as they will destroy your hardwood floors.
5. Clean regularly to get the dirt/grit up. Swiffers or similar products are ideal. (I will write a future post on cleaning hardwood floors).
6. Consider area rugs for areas where chairs are moved often. These can be especially handy for dining rooms or other areas where chairs are frequently moved. Area rugs will also reduce the noise.
I also get a lot of questions about pets and hardwood. Generally, most cats do not cause issues with their claws (although sometimes kitty litter can scratch up the floor so be careful to clean that up). There seems to be more issues with dogs claws and for sure trimming nails will usually help. I've also read somewhere that there are some sort of doggie nail covers, but most pet lovers would prefer to leave the pets alone. You can read more here on types of hardwood flooring that are best for pets.
Does adding an extra coat of polyurethane help prevent scratches? Well this depends. If your hardwood is prefinished, then, no this will actually make your floor more susceptible to scratches (as it will sand off some of the aluminum oxide) and it will void your manufacturer warranty. If however, you have hardwood that has been finished on site (i.e. it was sanded in the home), then, an extra coat can help reduce scratching.
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