General Guidelines for Maintaining Your Finished Bamboo Floors
Routine Maintenance Is The Key.
NOTE: it is important to understand that Bamboo floors are a natural product and must be treated with care.
Many customers have unrealistic expectations about the life and durability of timber floor coatings. Some expect the coatings to never wear or mark, and to be impervious to spillages and moisture or to never need maintenance. It’s is better to create realistic expectations upfront by explaining clearly that wood floors are a long term investment that will last the lifetime in your home, If routine cleaning and maintenance are carried out, and they are protected from moisture and abrasion. Routine basic maintenance includes sweeping, vacuuming or dust mopping to remove dirt and grit which if left will accumulate and act as an abrasive as it is tracked throughout the home. This schedule should also include the occasional light damp mopping with the manufacturer’s recommended cleaner.
Shoes, Mats & Dogs
Many people don’t wear outside shoes inside for cleanliness reasons. They switch to softer indoor footwear and this is not only reduces the cleaning required but also prevents tracking abrasive grit and dirt into the home. This grit acts just like sandpaper on your floor. Good quality mats placed inside and outside all entrance doors are the next best solution to prevent tracking abrasive dirt and grit inside. Area mats placed in high traffic areas such as at the kitchen sink or hallways greatly assist in the reduction of wear in these areas. Move them periodically as ultraviolet light can change the colour of exposed timber giving the floor an uneven appearance. If shoes are worn inside, they should be kept in good order to prevent denting of the timber floorboards, dog’s claws should be kept trimmed for the same reason.
In almost all cases when called in to assess the condition of a homeowner’s Bamboo floors I will find the most damage around and underneath the dining table. It is a heavily used area and the constant scraping of chairs in and out can quickly degrade the finish. Most have diligently placed felt protectors on the bottom of the chair legs only to have them knocked off or damaged over time, leaving the hard wood or metal tip exposed. The best types of protectors are ones with a hard plastic cup containing the felt pad that have a nail or pin that can be hammered into the leg itself. They don’t fall off. With furniture legs, it is not so much weight but movement that damages floorboards. Or you can look at the full rubber type. It is up to you the homeowner to regularly check chairs, tables to see if the felt is still intact and has not fallen off, if you want to protect your floors.
Wood and Water Don’t Mix
Water is the biggest problem when it comes into contact with Bamboo floors and it is important to prevent your floors to direct contact with water, if there happens to be a water spill, then mop up as quickly as possible.
It is essential that the floor be cleaned using a minimum of water. MIST SPRAYING IS THE BEST METHOD, Use damp mops only, never a wet mop, and mop with the grain of the timber not across it. Don’t allow water to stand on the floor and wipe up spills or leaks immediately. Use a slightly moistened cloth for sticky spills if necessary, be sure to wipe the floor dry afterwards. Too much water can result in moisture penetrating the finish, which could lead to delamination or the cupping of the floorboards.
Don’t use steam mops on your timber floors despite what the salesman told you. They force steam (moisture) into small incisions, breaks or cracks that appear in the surface of your floor and could cause the finish to peel and delaminate. All finishes degrade over time by the process of oxidation – a process that is accelerated by heat.
Cleaning Products to Use
Never, ever use common household products like all-purpose household cleaner, window cleaner, steel wool pads, aerosol furniture polish, wax or similar products to clean your floor. Some are too abrasive and will scratch the surface others will make your floor dangerously slippery and could leave a film of silicon or wax in the timber, which will interfere with any future recoating of your floor. A lot of people might think Methylated Spirits or Kerosene is all right to use. THEY ARE NOT. Any type of petroleum distillate will degrade the finish over time and eventually cause it to look irreversibly dull and drab. It is best to use the finish manufacturer’s proprietary cleaner, following their directions for use, but if none is available then some warm water with a little mild, neutral PH detergent added works well. Again Mist Spray or squeeze the mop out and damp mop only. Some choose to buff the floor with a soft cloth afterwards to ensure no water is left on the timber.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Bamboo, like many natural materials (such as your skin) will change colour on exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Even an old floor that is re-sanded will expose new timber fibres to the light, which begins this colour change process. The amount of change is dependent upon the amount of direct and indirect sunlight exposure the floor gets and the response of different species of timber is variable. This colour change is the most dramatic in the first 6 months after it is sanded and finished. It is recommended that rugs be moved periodically during this time to avoid leaving areas of uneven colour. We see many modern homes with huge expanses of unprotected glass allowing intense afternoon sun to beat directly onto the floor surface. The incredible heat generated not only cooks the surface of the Bamboo speeding up the process of oxidation by which all finishes degrade, but also increases the chance of the floorboards cupping.
Bamboo floorboards cup for only one reason – that is from gaining or losing moisture faster on one side than the other. The heat beating on the surface dries out moisture from the topside of the boards making them drier than the bottom. The board’s cup away from the area of highest moisture with the top edges curling upwards towards the board centre. To avoid unwanted colour change, the possibility of the floorboards cupping or accelerated degradation of the finish it is best to filter the sunlight that shines directly onto your bamboo floors with blinds, drapes or window tinting.
Your hardwood floor should be recoated when the original finish shows signs of wear, but before it has worn down to bare wood. Once worn to bare wood, the floor will stain easily and may require complete re-sanding. The recoating process only requires the floor to be cleaned down and then abraded, after which another coat of finish is applied. It is a much simpler and less costly process than re-sanding.
If you are unsure of the condition of your floor contact us at Rhino Bamboo Floors, inspection and advice.
Place mats at all exterior door entrances, preferably inside and out. Place area mats in front of the sink and rugs down hallways and other heavy traffic areas. Be aware that some rubber backed rugs, foam backed rugs and non-slip pads contain additives that may discolour the floor. Periodically move your rugs around to avoid irregular discolouration patches from direct and indirect light exposure.
And finally do inspect your floors regularly for any signs of damage or wear and take the appropriate action. This step alone can save you much heartache and money. Early intervention in most cases means minor problems are fixed without the expense and disruption or re-sanding the entire floor. Again call Rhino Bamboo Floors for advice.
Caring For Your Floor.
Proper care and maintenance will preserve the beauty of a Bamboo floor.
- Fit protective pads to the legs of chairs and tables to prevent scuff marks when moving furniture.
- Under desk chairs that have castors fitted we recommend the use of a protective floor mat to prevent damage to the floor.
- Floors coated with polyurethane solvent finish will undergo an aging process by reacting with light and gradually darkening with age.
- Floors exposed to direct sunlight should be protected by window coverings such as curtains or blinds
- Install matting at the entrance to timber floors. The aim of a matting system is to remove dirt / grit and moisture from the feet of people entering the building to prevent that material scratching or wearing away the finish film.
SOME DO NOT TIPS:
- Do not let sand, dirt or grit gather on the floor. This can act like sandpaper and abrade or scratch the surface causing a dull finish.
- Never use excess water to clean the timber surface. Excessive amounts of water can cause your timber floor to swell. Use water sparingly.
- High heels should never be worn on timber floors. They can severely damage timber floors and leave dents in the surface.
- Do not use household detergents or cleaners on timber floors. These products can dull floor finishes, if you do use detergents, use sparingly and it is best to use a PH Neutral.Pets living on timber floors can scratch or gouge the floors. Keep claws trimmed regularly.
- Use a damp mop only. A micro-fibre mop is recommended. Avoid wet mopping of the floor, which can leave excess moisture or streaking.
- Regularly vacuum your timber floors, the vacuum should be protected on the underside, this will minimise the chance of scratches.
- Apply the cleaning material by the “MIST SPRAY METHOD”, using this method minimises the chance of high levels of water on your floor.
- The “MIST SPRAY METHOD”, is done by diluting the cleaning material and then lightly mist spraying the floors and then wiping with a “MICRO FIBRE MOP”
- To remove sticky stains add a little methylated spirits or white vinegar to your water.
- For Commercial Floors:
- There are many Commercial floor polishes available at your local hardware, such as “Floor Shine” this is a Feast & Watson product, this is water based and applied on the floor as an extra protection coating, and can be repeated every three months
When a spillage occurs soak up the bulk of the liquid quickly.
Do Not Flood Mop Any Timber/Bamboo Floor. It’s the safest solution.
Formaldehyde emissions and bamboo flooring. What are the risks? Is it safe?
Floor Care & Safety
We know bamboo itself is an eco-friendly material – growing to maturity within 3-5 years, compared to 20-120 years for timbers – but what about it’s impact on our health when we live on it as a finished floor?
Firstly, what is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is an organic compound that has been given much recent publicity, leading it to be commonly associated with health risks and emissions from glues leaching into the air from fixtures in our homes and offices. Why? Because it is highly toxic and a potential carcinogen. Yet, it is naturally occurring and impossible to avoid – you’ll even find it in organic fruit and veg. Formaldehyde is indeed used in glues. Formaldehyde solutions can also be useful as disinfectants as they kill most bacteria and fungi, and are applied topically in medicine too. What’s key is the level of the stuff we are exposed to, not whether or not it is present.
For us, we work on bamboo floors by day and live on them by night. So we’re especially interested in what any formaldehyde in our product might mean for our health too.
Both family and health are values very important to us, and we want to be sure we’re not putting any other families in harm’s way with our product either. So we’ve done all the testing we can to ensure we’re all safe.
Bamboo flooring is comprised of 3 elements –the bamboo and glues used to assemble the floorboards, the adhesive used to install the board in your home and the polish to finish it – so let’s run through how each individually stack up…