Over the last ten years or so, carpets have largely fallen out of favor as hardwood flooring (or at least flooring that looks like wood) experiences a kind of resurgence. Besides aesthetic appeal, the great thing about hardwood floors is that messes can be cleaned up much more easily on them— not to mention the fact that they don’t harbor nearly as much bacteria, mites, and other germs as carpeting does. The only real concern is ensuring that the finish remains unscratched and even.
If you have hardwood or laminate flooring in your apartment, you probably want it to stay scratch and scuff-free for however long you’re living there. Though you may not think that any extra measures need to be taken to protect your floors, let’s face it: life happens to all of us. After all, it’s very easy to unintentionally scuff the floor’s surface with a shoe or dent it when not moving furniture properly.
Luckily, there are some great tips out there that are sure to help you avoid scratching up your floors.
Be Careful with Furniture
Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy for furniture to scuff or dent the flooring during the moving process. This usually happens when pieces are rolled, pushed, or dragged across the floor. You can minimize this damage by coming up with a smart plan for moving and repositioning everything. If the piece is relatively lightweight, you can usually lift it off the ground with ease. However, this isn’t always possible for bigger things like sofas.
Instead, try to lift one side of the chair or sofa off the ground, then slip a towel directly underneath it. Now do the same with the other side. You’ll find that you can safely push or drag the piece however you see fit. Once it’s been moved, it’s a good idea to stick adhesive felt pads (available in most home maintenance stores) on the bottoms of its legs. This adds a long-lasting soft buffer between the floors and the furniture itself.
Invest in Mats or Rugs
High-traffic areas like entryways are best tackled by simply putting down a mat. A rubber doormat placed directly inside the entrance to an apartment will remind everyone to wipe their feet as they come in. This really helps to catch any dirt that would otherwise get on the floors.
Another case where a mat would be very helpful is if you have a home office or study space that includes a rolling chair, which can really do a number on your hardwood floors. Put some kind of mat under these chairs as soon as you can, as it adds an essential protective barrier.
Rugs can also be a solution in areas that get a lot of activity, such as in living rooms and dining rooms. Just remember to put pads underneath your rugs to prevent them from slipping and sliding. Especially in places like there dining room, where chairs are constantly being pulled out and pushed back in, having a rug underneath the furniture is a great way to prevent unsightly damage to floors.
Take Off Your Shoes
Another major cause of scratches is the smaller debris that gets tracked in on our shoes. Not only do we have a lot more dirt and grit on them than we may realize, but there are also lots of shoe types, such as high heels and cleats, that can easily damage soft materials like wood. Although you might not like the thought of going barefoot in your apartment 24/7, remembering to remove your shoes first thing when entering is a good habit to get into. Plus, it’s as easy as simply kicking them off at the door and putting them on a shoe rack.
Clip Dogs’ Nails
Excitable pets (especially dogs) running around the apartment can also contribute to the scratch marks on our hardwood floors. Dogs usually need their nails trimmed anyway, and doing so will not only keep them happy and healthy, but it’ll also reduce the wear and tear on your unit. Another idea is to go to a local pet goods store and look for nail caps, which are made of a soft plastic material that painlessly covers your pet’s nails.
Maintain Your Floors
One of the best ways to keep your floors looking good as new is to regularly clean them. Use a vacuum that also works on hardwood flooring and then mop up to get any smaller crumbs and dust you may have missed. Just remember to stick to a wood-safe wash that doesn’t contain degrading agents like ammonia or wax/oil.
Though residential flooring doesn’t often take as much of a beating, most hardwood floors will need to be buffed and refinished with polyurethane every few years or so. The landlord of your building likely has a plan in place for this, and they’ll hire a professional to renew the floors’ finish as the surface starts to dull.
By following these suggestions, you can avoid scratching your floors and keep them in tip-top condition for the duration of your lease.