Australian summers are a time for fun and recreation, but they also mean increased heat and humidity. Your hardwood floors might be robust enough to handle high foot traffic every day, but hot weather brings challenges to even the best laid wooden floors. Let’s look at some tried and true techniques for caring for hardwood floors during summer, and ensure they remain in perfect condition year round.
Every entry point at your place of work is a potential portal for sand, dirt, dust and grime. Small particles can act like sandpaper on your hardwood floors, damaging the finish and leaving the floors looking worn and unsightly. Particulates stuck to the bottoms of shoes, sandals and even bare feet can ruin your day.
With summer comes trips to the beach, hikes and all sorts of outdoor activities. There’s just no telling where visitors to your office or workplace have been. Smart wood floor protection starts with doormats at every entry point, even those that don’t lead directly to into a room with hardwood floors. Make sure they are bright and inviting, so everyone gets the message. Indoor doormats are also a good idea, ideally placed as you enter, so the eye is drawn to beautiful floors and folks are subconsciously encouraged to wipe their feet before entering.
As the weather warms, harsh direct sunlight can play havoc with your hardwood floors. While most quality floorboards are built to withstand sunlight, direct light can fade sections of your flooring over time, leading to an uneven appearance. The same UV that causes sunburn can discolour wood, causing it to age faster.
To protect against UV, use drapery and curtains on windows, particularly those with an east / west aspect. Lighter curtains with bright patterning will help keep your space fresh and bright during the summer while protecting your precious floors from overexposure.
If you’re replacing your current windows then you may want to install low e-glass. This type of glass protects against but Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) light, both are which area damaging to floorboards in high enough concentrations.
Existing windows can be coated in films that reduce direct sunlight without heavily tinting the windows. Venetian blinds are also a good option for shielding sunlight through the summer.
The use of any old polish, oil or wax to clean your hardwood floors is generally not recommended. In fact, you’ll want to avoid using these substances where possible and instead attack the problem with a good vacuum cleaner and floor polisher.
A minimum cleaning rotation of one week should suffice to keep hardwood floors free of dust and small particles that can scratch and damage the surface. The vacuum should have a bare floor attachment (avoid using the beater bar at all costs). Backpack style vacuums are best as they don’t touch the floors as you move around. If you need to use a ground based vacuum, ensure the wheels are friendly to wood floors and there’s nothing hanging from the chassis that could drag or otherwise scratch the surface.
Upright vacuum cleaners are also ideal for larger commercial operations, as the entire floor bound surface area comprises of cleaning structure. The Columbus XP3 is a fully automated upright vacuum cleaner with automatic brush adjustments and telescopic extender hose for hard to reach places. At only 66 decibels it’s a low noise unit perfect for picking up dust and dirt on bare floors and can even be paired with an optional HEPA filter for hygienically clean exhaust.
Alternatively, for bigger jobs, the LIttle Wonder HPV provides a 280 Litre capacity hopper, superior suction, 5 blade reverse angled impeller and 12 gauge steel construction. Alpha Clean’s full range of commercial grade vacuum cleaners can be found here.
If your business uses a mix of hardwood floors, vinyl, concrete rubber and tiles, then a commercial grade floor polisher can make buffing up the entire floorspace a breeze. Consider then CIMEX CR48 – Multi-purpose Buffer with triple brush action for ease of use and cable snap prevention or the Orbis Cordless Burnisher with passive dust control and 1500 rpm burnishing. For more, see our full list of rotary machines.
Humidity affects wood. Even the best treated hardwood can warp and crack if exposed to high levels of humidity over time. Protect your floors by using dehumidifiers to suck up all that excess airborne moisture. If you operate in a high humidity area then this tip is useful all year round. It will also make your space more comfortable to everyone.
The ideal humidity levels inside a structure with hardwood floors are between 35-55% To test if humidity levels are a problem in your place of business, you can use a hygrometer or humidistat. There is even a hygrometer app for iPhones. In larger rooms, be sure to run multiple tests across several points in the room, as humidity and mould can gather in certain areas depending on the source.
Summer rains can lead to excess moisture, especially in poorly insulated areas like basements. A thorough perimeter check of insulation areas should identify any holes or gaps which can then be filled in with a foam spray. Depending on where your office or workspace is located, good insulation and moisture protection can help year round. While your hardwood floors may be resistant to water, excess moisture buildup between the slats will degrade the quality of your floorboards over time.
The installation phase is critical in ensuring your hardwood floors look great for years to come. If you’re planning an upgrade to your workspace or office, make sure you use a reputable installer. Regardless of the quality, floorboards should be lain with the correct amount of space between them. Wood ‘breathes’; it expands and contracts over time, and if the floorboards are placed too close together they will press into each other and crack. If the slats are too far apart they will attract moisture, suffer from warping and general unsightliness.
There are many cheap products out there that claim to clean your hardwood floors, but will actually strip them of their varnish, damage the wood and lead to faster ageing, warping and cracking. Be wary of products that don’t come from a reputed source or industry leader in hardwood floor care.
All natural cleaners that are specially made for hardwood floors are your best bet, as are chemicals designed for polished floors and surfaces. Look for products that are residue free, PH neutral and and compatible with both urethane finishes and aluminum oxide finishes, like the VERSADET Concentrated Neutral Floor Cleaner.
The best way to ensure your hardwood floors remain pristine year round is to stick with a regular cleaning schedule using high quality equipment. Alpha Clean’s extensive product range can provide all around protection for a variety of surfaces, from carpets and tiles to cement and hardwood flooring. Whether you run a fitness center, care facility, workshop or office, Alpha Clean can help keep your place of business looking effortlessly spotless.