The hardwood flooring industry enjoys an annual revenue of approximately $2 billion. If you are like many homeowners, you love the classic warmth of hardwood floors, but you also know that they can be dangerous in "wet" areas of your home. If you want wood floors in your kitchen and bathrooms, follow these tips to protect them.
1. Choose Hard Woods Rather Than Soft Woods
While all wood floors might be referred to as "hardwood," you can find options in soft woods, such as pine. The problem with soft woods for kitchens and bathrooms is that they are more susceptible to damage from standing water and high traffic.
When selecting the perfect wood for your floors, look for hard woods like hickory and walnut. They're durable and long-lasting, and they won't stain or dent with heavy traffic or the occasional exposure to water.
2. Mop Spills Immediately
The danger of installing hardwood floors in wet rooms is that standing water can seep between the planks and rot them from underneath. To avoid this in your kitchen or bathroom, mop up spills as soon as they occur.
In areas that are prone to leaks, such as under the sink, put a large bucket or plastic bin to catch water so it doesn't spill out onto the floor. Check these areas regularly so you'll find leaks before they become dangerous to your wood.
3. Apply a High-Quality Sealer
There are many different ways to seal your hardwood floors, some of which are more effective for wet rooms in your home than others. The three most common options are:
- Stain Finish
- Polyurethane Coating
- Moisture Sealer
Each of these will provide some protection against moisture damage, but it's best to choose a finish that is specifically designed to prevent water damage. A moisture-preventing finish will also protect your floors if you live in a high-humidity area.
4. Use Rugs
Another way to protect your hardwood floors in wet rooms is to put down large rugs over high-traffic zones. A rug placed in front of the sink in your kitchen, for example, will prevent wear and tear as well as protect the floor from occasional drips.
Depending on your family's personal habits, rugs will also benefit your home in other places, such as:
- In front of showers and tubs
- Along pathways between rooms (such as the kitchen and dining room or breakfast nook)
- Around work spaces, such as kitchen islands
- In front of appliances, such as the refrigerator or washing machine
For the best results, choose rugs with rubber backing. Not only will this keep the rug in place, but it also provides an extra layer of protection against moisture seeping through the rug fibers.
5. Inspect Your Plumbing
The best way to prevent moisture damage in wet areas of your home is to prevent plumbing disasters from ruining your floors. If you find a problem before it causes a leak, you won't have to replace or repair your wood floors.
Keep in mind that serious plumbing disasters can damage all different types of flooring, including tile and carpet. However, wood is more susceptible to buckling and rotting, so take extra care to prevent leaks and puddled water.
As a homeowner, learn the common signs of plumbing problems, such as:
- Dripping faucets
- Mold and mildew odors
- Stained or bulging walls
- Slow movement through drains
If you notice a red flag, call a professional plumber to evaluate the problem and start repairs.
After you install hardwood floors, hire a reputable plumbing service to inspect your system. Repair any damaged or faulty pipes, then continue a regular inspection schedule. Click here for more info on plumbing and how it affects your home.