Maintaining the original beauty of your antique wooden floor can sometimes seem like an uphill battle. It's as if dust bunnies, scraps of food, and pet hair have declared it their favorite gathering spot.
At E.T. Moore, we often get asked, “how to clean reclaimed wood floors?” The short answer is that maintaining an antique floor is very similar to traditional wood floors.
However, there are a few things that we advise our customers to do to ensure the longevity of their investment. Read on to learn more about how to clean antique wood floors.
First Steps in Cleaning Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Reclaimed wood floors are environmentally friendly and add a rustic charm to your interiors. However, their distinct characteristics require a specialized approach to cleaning.
Start by removing loose debris or dust that could scratch the surface. Sweep the floor with a soft-bristle broom or vacuum cleaner with a hardwood floor attachment.
This first step is vital because the rough texture of reclaimed wood tends to trap dirt and debris in nooks and crannies. Take your time, and pay close attention to any areas that may be particularly dirty.
Use a pH-neutral cleaner specifically designed for wood floors. Other products have harsh chemicals that could strip away the natural oils or damage the finish. Use a well-wrung-out mop or cloth for cleaning, as excessive moisture can harm the wood.
Preventative Care for Reclaimed Wood Floors
Preventative care is the first line of defense for maintaining your investment. The finish and unique patina are susceptible to damage from various elements. Here are several tips to take into consideration:
Certain types of reclaimed wood, such as antique heartwood, have excellent moisture resistance and “move” very little with seasonal changes. Other wood species require indoor humidity from 30% to 50% and temperatures from 60° to 80°F. Staying within these ranges helps to prevent warping and movement throughout the year.
Food, Wine, and Liquid Spills
Clean up food and liquid spills as quickly as possible. Use a slightly damp mop and gently wipe the wood dry of any residual water or liquid—the less time liquid spends on your floor, the less likely for long-term damage.
Candle Wax and Chewing Gum
Use a few ice cubes to freeze chewing gum or candle wax. A credit card or plastic scraper will gently scrape it away without leaving a permanent mark or stain.
Rugs and Carpets
UV rays from the sun shining through the windows can slightly alter the color of the wood over many years. It’s essential to occasionally move rugs and carpets to avoid getting different rug-shaped spots over time.
Avoid using plastic, rubber, or foam-backed mats, as they could cause discoloration. Instead, use a high-quality vinyl rug underlay to prevent rugs and carpets from slipping when you walk over them.
Apply soft felt pads on the feet of your furniture and chairs to avoid scratching the floor finish. Ensure the pads are free from harsh chemicals or “wonder materials” that could ruin the rich patina.
Reclaimed Wooden Floor Maintenance
There are several things to avoid when cleaning your reclaimed wood floors:
- Avoid using Swiffer cleaning products, as they make it almost impossible to refinish the wood.
- Don’t use hardwood flooring cleaning machines or steam cleaners.
- If you want to restore the gloss, refrain from using “2-in-1 cleaning solutions” with polish that may contain acrylics or urethane.
- Stay away from oil soaps and liquid or paste wax products. Also, don't use heavy-duty cleaners containing citrus oils, lemon oil, tung oil, silicon, or ammonia.
Daily and Weekly Cleaning
Regularly sweep your floors with a soft-bristle broom. Fine sand, dirt, or grit from your pet's paws or kid's soccer cleats can act like sandpaper and scratch the floor. You might not see it right away, but these tiny scratches can reflect indoor light and appear ten times larger.
Placing doormats at entry points will help remove some dirt and debris. However, shoe soles can easily trap tiny grains of dirt, gravel, or sand particles that may still be carried inside. As people walk across the floor, these particles can cause scratches.
It’s best to ask everyone to remove their shoes, cleats, and high heels before entering your home. Establish a designated area near the entrance for shoe storage, making it convenient for guests and family members.
Additionally, the nails of dogs and cats are often sharp and can easily scratch the floor. Regularly trim your pet's nails and ensure their paws are dirt-free. An absorbent doormat for pets can help reduce the amount of debris they track into your home.
Renewing Your Antique Wooden Floor
You might want to renew the look of your antique reclaimed wooden floor after a few years of enjoyment. A wide range of approved finishes, stains, and sealers will protect your investment and bring out its natural beauty.
Contact the flooring experts at E.T. Moore for customized advice on how best to apply and use renewal products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Navigating the nuances of maintaining reclaimed wood might seem daunting. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you effectively care for and showcase the rustic beauty of your reclaimed wood.
When cleaning reclaimed wood floors, it's essential to use a gentle cleaner that won't harm the wood's natural properties. We recommend using a pH-neutral cleaner specifically designed for wood floors. It's also a good idea to dilute it according to the manufacturer's instructions to avoid using an overly concentrated solution.
Cleaning reclaimed wood for indoor use requires a systematic approach to preserve its character:
- Remove any loose debris or dust—A soft-bristle brush or a vacuum cleaner with a hardwood floor attachment works best.
- Clean the surface—Use a mild, pH-neutral cleaner diluted with water. Avoid soaking the wood; use a damp cloth or a well-wrung-out mop.
- Dry the surface—Thoroughly dry the wood with a clean cloth to stop moisture from soaking in.
- Seal the wood—Seal the wood with a finishing product to protect it from stains and wear.
Reclaimed wood can sometimes harbor insects. Here's how to eliminate them:
- Inspect the wood—Carefully inspect the wood for any signs of bugs, such as holes or sawdust.
- Use heat—If possible, kiln-drying the wood is one of the most effective ways to eliminate insects.
- Use insecticides—Apply a borate-based insecticide to the wood following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to wear protective gear and ensure proper ventilation.
- Sealing—After treating it for bugs, seal the wood with a finish to create a barrier that will deter future infestations.
Making reclaimed wood look good is all about enhancing its natural character while making sure it’s clean and protected:
- Clean the wood—Start by cleaning the wood thoroughly.
- Apply a finish or stain—Use a manufacturer-recommended wood stain or a clear finish to highlight the natural grain.
- Seal the wood—Seal the wood with a protective coating like polyurethane to protect it from damage and wear.
- Regular maintenance—Regularly dust and clean the wood, and periodically check the finish to ensure it's still in good condition.
Remember, reclaimed wood has a history; part of its charm lies in its imperfections. Take care to preserve its unique character while keeping it clean and protected.
Antique and Reclaimed Flooring from E.T. Moore
At E.T. Moore, we’re one of the largest reclaimed wood manufacturers on the Eastern Coast. Founded in 1969, we strive to provide our clients with a wide range of beautiful antique heartwood and other types of wood flooring.
Our facility, large inventory, and proprietary reclamation methods ensure that we have what you’re looking for and can match any sample that you provide. Click below to learn more.Reclaimed Wood Flooring