How Do Hardwood Floors Get Damaged?

Many people have hardwood floors and love the look– but hardwood floors can and do get damaged. Their natural beauty can be marred by a variety of factors, including the lack of maintenance, spills that don’t get cleaned up right away, and something as simple as the lack of a “welcome mat” to catch all the dirt and debris coming into the home or office.

Dirt and Debris

Damaged Hardwood Flooring

Dirt and debris can definitely be a problem. For instance, say someone tracks in little stones on their shoes. These stones, as they drag across the hardwood flooring, can create unsightly scratches. They can become embedded in the floor’s crevices. Over time, the floor’s finish can wear out. Is it any wonder, then, that many people decide to have a welcome mat and/or leave shoes “at the door” so they don’t mess up their floors?

“Sticky” Area Rugs

Some people choose to use area rugs on their hardwood floors. If and when they use double-sided tape or rug pads to keep their area rugs in one place (not sliding around) then there’s a chance the tape or padding will leave a sticky residue on their hardwood floor. If possible, it’s best to use a rug pad made from natural materials, and that way it won’t “stick” to the floor. 

No Furniture Pads

What about furniture pads? They should be underneath your furniture on hardwood floors. Otherwise, when things like tables and couches get moved, you risk scratching the wood. 

Water Damage

Water Damage to Hardwood Floor Water can be the enemy of hardwood floors! If water is left to linger too long on flooring, you can expect some warping and discoloration. Be careful when cleaning hardwood floors. Most people assume they should use a mop. When they do this, they typically use too much water and some of that water seeps under the floorboards. This, in turn, can lead to mold growth and/or subfloor damage. Hardwood floors can also be damaged by harsh cleaning products that aren’t suited for the type of finish on the floor.

Miscellaneous Damage

What are some other damages that occur with hardwood floors? Over the years, you might experience split or cracked wood in certain areas. Gaps could develop between planks– and this happens because wood dries out over time, but also expands when it gets wet and/or humid. Gaps form over the years thanks to the regular expansion and contraction of wood. Buckling and cupped floors can also occur, whereas the boards warp and lift up from their subfloor or the edges of the planks raise up while the center board sinks down. Sometimes hardwood floors get damaged due to the humidity levels in a home. You don’t want your rooms to be too dry or too wet.

Keep in mind that hardwood floors are prone to movement. If they are installed incorrectly, you’re likely going to experience numerous problems including gaps. 

Problem areas typically include areas around heating ducts. If your home or office is heated with a woodstove or you’ve got areas that receive a ton of sunlight during the day, the environment becomes quite dry– and that could cause hardwood floor damages. 

The Finish Matters

Depending on the floor finish, and whether or not the floor dealt with a lot of dirt or chemicals over time, you could get a peeling finish. Typically, peeling floors need to be sanded down to bare wood and the finishing process has to start “fresh.” 

Speaking of sanding, if hardwood floors aren’t sanded properly, then the finish ends up settling into the bottom of the sanding grooves– but the tops of those grooves don’t get much finish. With foot traffic, including people and pets, expect the surface to break down over time. Floors need to be sanded and finished properly– if they aren’t, expect problems. 

The Pet Effect

Dog on Hardwood FlooringWhile pets unclipped toenails can wreck hardwood floors, it’s often their urine that’s a much bigger issue. Their urine stains the wood, and smells bad! Ultimately, pet stains usually involve replacing floorboards.

There are many things that can go wrong with hardwood floors, but there are also many things that can go right. If people pay attention to their floors, keep them clean, and care about maintaining them, they should last for years and years without problems. 

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