Most anyone is aware of what moisture and salt can do to flooring surfaces, particularly hardwood floors. When salt, water, and other chemically-laced products are brought in from the outside and allowed to remain on hardwood floors, damage can occur, but there are ways to prevent it. Resulting wood flooring problems can come in the form of:
- Floor cleaning difficulties
- Slippery floors
- Warping, corrosion, splintering, scratching, staining and dry rot
- Disintegration or breakdown of the floor’s original finish
In order to preserve wood flooring and prevent future problems, you have to think about preventative measures. You don’t want to end up replacing a newer floor, or further damaging an older one simply because you procrastinated with maintaining the floor in the first place.
If you are asking yourself the question, does salt ruin hardwood floors, the answer is yes, but there are ways to prevent it, which include some suggestions as to how to prevent floor disasters before they start, and how damage control can be managed with hardwood floors. With a few simple steps, preventative measures can save you time, expense and the life of your floor.
- Don’t allow moisture and salt-containing chemicals to remain on floors for any length of time.
- Immediately remove any moisture and salt from floors.
- Keep water absorbent cloths, rags, or towels handy at entryways/ exits of a home.
- Remove any dried salt granules or other remaining residues with sweepers, mops, or vacuums for fast extraction.
- If at all possible, don’t use ice melting products at entryways. Instead, use kitty litter. Though it won’t melt ice, it does allow for a safe surface for entry and will hinder floor scratches.
- Utilize indoor and outdoor mats and scatter rugs to keep from tracking in salt residue from shoes and clothing.
There is no doubt that salt on hardwood floors is going to be a problem no matter how it is handled, as salts (sodium chloride salt combinations) are going to leave a nasty, oily film on wood floors as well as a chalky white residue that can cause slips and falls as well as damage to wooden floors, which means that floors need to be maintained in order to prevent both.
Removal of salt residue and chemical combinations that have accumulated on wood floors over time can be accomplished by utilizing the right kinds of cleaning solutions that are geared towards neutralizing the salt. You want to save money and spare yourself the expense of hiring a professional, so give the natural cleaning solutions here a try, before going the professional route.
Inexpensive Cleaning Solutions
Cleaning solutions need to address canceling out the properties of the salt or neutralizing it, and most regular cleaning products will not do that. An acidic type of cleaner is the answer. Here are a few natural and inexpensive cleaning solutions that will help to remove salt.
- Use 1 cup of white vinegar to approximately 3 gallons of warm water. Take a slightly damp cloth and rub the floor area in a circling manner and quickly buff it dry. It is best to try this process in a small area first before proceeding to larger spaces.
- To make a more powerful cleaner for heavy residue accumulation, add 2 Tablespoons of de-greasing type dish soap to 1 cup vinegar to approximately 3 gallons of warm water.
- Before cleaning, particularly if doing it by hand, gather the necessary tools like rubber gloves, floor brushes, scrubbers and soft-headed mops (microfiber) and clothes to help you complete the job.
- When applying either one of the vinegar solutions to wood floors, allow the solution to remain for about 10-15 minutes. Depending on the depth of the residue, use the mop for lighter cleaning and the brushes and scrubbers for deeper cleansing. Once clean, remove any excess moisture from the floor with a clean towel or cloth.
Sometimes there is little that can be done with the continued accumulation of salt on hardwood floors as the damage may have gone beyond the prevention and cleaning stages. If repairs do need to be made, it is best to do so in a less intrusive manner in order to better preserve the wood for a longer period of time. If wood flooring requires repairs, that process could entail:
- Sanding and refinishing the floor by hand or with upright floor sander
- Replacing individual, matching boards or filling in splintered or corroded areas with wood putty
- Buffing using steel wool
- Applying a sealant coating
- Applying a finish coat, which should eliminate surface scratches
Maintaining a Wood Floor
When you live in an area where salt is going to be used to prevent slipping, sliding and other incidents, you have to mull over the question in your mind, does salt ruin hardwood floors? You know the answer is yes, and you know that hardwood floors require care to maintain their beauty, whether salt is or isn’t a factor.
In spite of salt, there are general dos and don’ts for maintaining any wood flooring on a year-round basis. If your wood floors are looking less than presentable, review the ideas provided. Like anything else in your home, your floors are an investment and you can take great care of them with a little research, time, and elbow grease. Get rid of that unsightly white residue and return your wood floors to their original condition.
This guest post contribution was provided by Bruce MacDonald of MacDonald Hardwoods of Denver, CO. Macwoods offers a variety of services from hardwood flooring installation, equipment rentals, and flooring installation classes.