Whether you have natural stone, wood, tile or even wax/no-wax vinyl floors, proper cleaning is not exactly intuitive. How do you maintain one versus the other and what products can you use that will not damage your investment? What is floor stripping and waxing? How do you polish your wood floors and then what do you do to keep them up? How do you get the grout clean on those tile floors and what about natural stone floors…can you polish or hone them? Should they be sealed? Keep reading for your floor cleaning tips and the ABC’s of floor maintenance no matter the type of floor you have!
For everyday maintenance we are often asked what to use to for hardwood floor cleaning services so as not to damage them. Bona products are currently the best recommended product for cleaning and polishing wood floors. For your everyday floor maintenance, the Bona Company sells a microfiber mop with cleaning solution adapters that are easy to use and simplify the cleaning process. Too much water is never a good idea for wood floors so always be sure to really wring out the microfiber mop pad when rinsing. If you would rather not purchase the Bona (and it is a little expensive), most any neutral cleaner works great! Use a microfiber mop, rinse the pad in water and a little dish soap and/or peroxide as your neutral cleaner. Wring out well and then mop away!
If your wood floors are in need of polishing, Bona polish is really the best on the market that we have found. You may want to hire a professional, but if you are in a DIY mood, here are the basics: Machine clean or deep clean the floors first. A floor machine with a white pad and extractor are very useful. Do a deep cleaning of the floors with minimal water and extract the water as you go (or thoroughly mop if you do not have an extractor). Let the floors dry well (use a blower if necessary). Apply Bona polish with their recommended lamb’s wool applicator. Thin, even coats are very important. Be careful not to get your base boards or walls. This process works great to give old floors a little more life and allow them to last a few more years. We often will use this process to liven up old oak floors when clients just cannot afford to re-finish.
Vinyl Wax/No-wax floors
Many clients think their floors are a goner until they speak with us. Twenty year old no-wax floors can often be revived with a relatively simply machine clean to remove build up grime in the grooves of the floor. If the no-wax floor has lost its shine with age, we can even put a few coats of wax on it to give them a few more years before replacing is necessary. Waxed vinyl (VCT Tile) floors will need floor stripping and waxing yearly for their longevity. This is the process of stripping off old wax with a floor machine and liquid floor stripper and then coating with fresh new wax. This is a tough job to do by yourself so we recommend calling a professional so that it is done right and you don’t rip your hair out trying to ensure you get all the old wax off and new wax laid properly. It really is not a good idea to cut corners…the investment is worth every penny I promise!
For daily maintenance this type of floor cleans in a snap. Make sure your mop is clean and rinse often during the process. Always use neutral cleaners like a little dish soap and peroxide cleaner. Really give the floors a good scrub so you get rid of potential dirty buildup, rinse and mop a couple of times to really get them nice and clean! The problem we see the most, is improper maintenance that has ruined the shine or caused buildup that then needs more attention sooner and costs money! A time investment in the proper cleaning maintenance now, will save you in the long run!
Waxed floors have a tendency to dull over time with traffic and cleaning, especially if you are not using the proper cleaning chemicals for the waxed floor. Floor burnishing is the process of polishing waxed floors (renewing their shine) with a high speed burnisher or buffing machine. Generally speaking the difference between burnishing and buffing is that burnishing machines move at much higher rpms and create a much more striking shine. Buffing machines also renew the shine but work at lower rpms. These machines are great for ongoing maintenance of the shine but do not produce the same high shine as a burnisher. You can usually find both of these machines at your local rental store. Be sure you are using the proper pad for the type of floor that you have: The rental store staff should be able to advise you on that.
Ceramic Tile Floors and Grout Cleaning:
Ceramic tile floors are a great choice for low maintenance. They are easy to keep clean and the only real drawback is that the grout has a tendency to get dirty if not sealed and maintained properly over time. First off- make sure you get the grout sealed! Grout is porous and will stain easily and get very dirty very quickly and be extraordinarily difficult to clean. On the other hand, sealed grout cleans up in a snap. Ceramic tile floors need a good mopping, rinsing the mop often to keep clean. At least once per week use a deck brush and scrub all the grout joints with a peroxide cleaner and your floors will last a lifetime!
If you have inherited ceramic tile floors with dirty grout, try a good peroxide or grout cleaner and deck brush, clean and rinse thoroughly and then seal with a quality sealer. Professional floor specialists have special tools and machines to make this loathsome chore much easier and you may want to consider hiring one for this job. Once the floor is cleaned thoroughly by a professional, ongoing maintenance will be a snap!
Natural Stone Floors:
Natural stone floors such as marble or travertine are beautiful and bring special value to a home or property. Natural stone floor cleaning maintenance is more finicky than some of the other choices and they are very easy to damage. For these floors, etching or the removal of the shine takes seconds with a wine spill, the wrong cleaning solution used or a lingering spill of juice. Restoring the polish requires a professional to be sure. For honed floors, though you don’t risk losing shine, they will stain easily if not sealed properly and most natural stone scratches very easily also. The best thing you can do is preventative maintenance: make sure they are sealed by a professional with a high quality sealer- our stone division SB Stonemasters recommends Dry Treat. Then, always clean up spills right away and protect the floors from damage by putting protectors on furniture legs (especially those pieces such as chairs that will certainly scratch the floors as they are drug back and forth). Finally, maintain properly with a good natural stone cleaner or neutral cleaner (dish soap and peroxide again are great choices).
Floor maintenance just got a little less confusing! Just remember: Proper ongoing maintenance will make this important investment last much longer—use the right products and prevent spills from ruining your floors with quick cleanup. Preventative maintenance by professionals can lessen the burden for both residential and commercial floor cleaning services so consider stashing away a few dollars every month for a good machine cleaning and polishing too! For local Santa Barbara floor cleaning needs click hereto see our floor services page!