They add character to a room, and squeak of both refinement and a classic je ne sais quoi. Wooden floors are a dream for many homeowners – and are worth the money spent in terms of visual appeal, and overall value. Below we take a look at the different types of wooden floors, and how you can maintain them efficiently to ensure value for money.

But before we jump into cleaning, let’s identify the three different types of wooden floor. Composition defines both its character and how it should be cared for once installed.

Solid hardwood & engineered hardwood: The boards of solid hardwood floors are made from a single piece of wood each. Engineered hardwood floors, on the other hand, rely on boards with multiple layers – the top one being the veneer layer covered with a protective finish, followed by up to 12 lower layers.

Laminated: Is a laminated floor a wooden floor? No, and yes. The top layer of a laminated floor is made from a transparent layer of aluminum oxide which rests on a printed image of a wooden grain. The image itself rests on a thick layer of fiber board (processed wood).

In both cases above water can damage your floor: Solid and engineered hardwood floors stain easily. Although laminated floors nowadays click together to form a near-watertight surface, moisture can still seep in and soften the fiber board below. As such, while cleaning, take care to limit the amount of moisture that comes into contact with your floor.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

The finish of your hardwood floor usually dictates how it should be cleaned. Hardwood floors sealed with a protective urethane, polyurethane, or acrylic layer are generally water resistant. Sweep, follow with a damp mop, and you’re done.

Hardwood floors finished with a penetrating seal or treated with oil are more prone to water damage. These floors should be swept and treated with an appropriate wax. The same goes for untreated floors, and floors with a varnish, shellac, or lacquered finish.

Tip: Over the course of months or years the protective finish of hardwood floors can wear off, especially in high-traffic areas. Exposed patches of wood will easily soak up the moisture, even from a damp mop, and expand. Test the finish on your hardwood floor by dripping a few drops of water onto the surface; if the drops remain, the finish is good; drops that seep into the wood are usually a signal that it’s time for a refinish.

Cleaning Laminated Floors

Although there are many different types of laminated floors, most of them can be kept clean with sweeping, and a damp mop. Some manufacturers do, however, sell cleaning agents which can help strengthen the protective aluminum oxide layer, increasing the lifespan of your floor.

Note: Never use baking soda to clean your laminated floor. Baking soda reacts with aluminum, effectively damaging it. That said, if you’re unsure what type of finish you have on your hardwood floor, or if you want to find out which cleaning products can enhance the life of your laminated floor, we recommend getting in touch with the installations company or the manufacturer.