How to Clean Engineered Hardwood Floors

Engineered hardwood floors, a popular choice in modern homes, combine the beauty of natural wood with structural stability. Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood consists of a thin layer of hardwood bonded over a high-quality plywood layer, making it more resistant to humidity and temperature changes. We have engineered hardwood in our current home and two other previous homes. Like any flooring, it requires proper care and cleaning to maintain its appearance and longevity. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to clean engineered hardwood floors effectively.

Understanding Engineered Hardwood Floors

Engineered hardwood floors represent a sophisticated and versatile flooring option, designed to combine the natural beauty and warmth of wood with enhanced durability and stability. Unlike traditional solid hardwood, engineered hardwood consists of a top layer of real wood veneer attached to multiple layers of plywood or high-density fiberboard, arranged in a cross-grain configuration. This unique construction method makes engineered hardwood less susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature, reducing the risk of warping or buckling that can occur with solid wood floors.

Engineered hardwood floors can be installed over various types of subfloors and are available in a wide range of wood species, finishes, and styles, making them a practical and attractive choice for almost any room in the home. The ability to refinish the surface layer extends the life of the flooring, ensuring that it remains a timeless addition to any space.

Daily Cleaning and Maintenance

Daily cleaning and maintenance are crucial for preserving the appearance and longevity of engineered hardwood floors. To effectively remove surface dust, dirt, and debris, it’s recommended to sweep daily or regularly with a soft-bristle broom or a dust mop. This practice is essential in preventing scratches that can be caused by grit and small particles.

Vacuuming the floors with a cleaner specifically designed for hardwood floors is highly beneficial. When doing so, ensure that the vacuum cleaner is equipped with a soft-bristle attachment and is set to the “hard floor” mode. This setting is important to avoid any potential scratches on the surface of the hardwood. By adhering to these simple yet effective cleaning methods, the engineered hardwood floors can be kept in pristine condition.

Weekly Cleaning

When mopping engineered hardwood floors, it is crucial to use a damp mop rather than a wet one. Excessive moisture can penetrate the flooring layers, leading to potential damage. Microfiber mops are the preferred choice as they excel in trapping dirt while ensuring no excess water is left behind.

Best Products for Cleaning Engineered Hardwood

Next, you want to make sure you are using the right product to clean your engineered hardwood.

You can do this by using the one your manufacturer recommends. You can normally find this on the company’s website and a lot of times there is a paper included inside the box the hardwood is packaged in.

There are a lot of websites out there that recommend using vinegar, but it’s been proven that this is a mistake. Vinegar contains acid which will break down the flooring finish over time.

There are a lot of pH-neutral cleaners available on the market. Here are a few of our favorites:

Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner is our number one choice. It’s designed for hardwood floors and is probably the most popular cleaner on the market. 

Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner & Polish is another great floor cleaner option. It’s a 2-in-1 that cleans your engineered hardwood and adds a protective finish that helps prevent future scratching and scuffs.

WOCA Natural Soap is the best option for oil-finished hardwood. We have oil-finished engineered hardwood in our home, and this product works very well.

Engineered Hardwood vs Solid Hardwood Floors

It’s important to understand the difference between engineered hardwood flooring and solid. The main difference between the two is the way the individual planks are made. Solid hardwood is made from (you guessed it) a solid piece of wood. But engineered hardwood is made from multiple layers of plywood with a thin solid beauty layer on top of a specific species. This could be oak, maple, etc.

The main advantage of engineered hardwood is that it can be made into wider planks and that it withstands moisture much better than solid, so you don’t have to worry about cupping.

Engineered Hardwood Cleaning Mistakes

Cleaning engineered hardwood floors requires a careful approach to maintain their beauty and longevity. Common mistakes can compromise the integrity and appearance of these floors. Here are several key errors to avoid:

  1. Using Excessive Water: One of the most critical mistakes is using too much water or steam cleaning. Engineered hardwood is more resistant to moisture than solid hardwood, but excessive water can still penetrate seams, causing warping, delamination, and damage to the core layers.
  2. Harsh Chemicals: Utilizing harsh cleaning agents can strip the finish off the engineered hardwood, leading to dullness and damage over time. Cleaners that are not specifically designed for use on hardwood floors can also leave residue, reducing the natural shine and beauty of the floor.
  3. Abrasive Tools: Scrubbing engineered hardwood floors with abrasive pads or brushes can scratch and dull the finish. Even though the top layer is real wood, it is thinner than solid hardwood and can be damaged more easily by rough cleaning methods.
  4. Neglecting Spills: Delaying the cleanup of spills can cause moisture to seep into the seams of engineered hardwood, potentially causing staining or warping. Promptly addressing spills by gently blotting them up can prevent damage.
  5. Improper Maintenance: Failing to regularly dust or vacuum the floors can lead to the accumulation of grit and debris, which can scratch the surface over time. Additionally, using wax-based polishes or oil soaps on engineered hardwood can create a buildup that dulls the floor’s appearance and makes future cleanings more difficult.
  6. Lack of Protective Measures: Not using felt pads under furniture legs or heavy appliances can result in scratches and gouges. Rugs and mats should be placed in high-traffic areas to minimize wear and tear on the floor’s finish.

By avoiding these common cleaning and maintenance mistakes, homeowners can preserve the beauty and durability of engineered hardwood floors for years to come. It’s essential to follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and care to ensure the best outcomes.

Cleaning Engineered vs Cleaning Solid Hardwood Floors

Cleaning engineered hardwood floors is a lot like cleaning solid. However, there are a few key differences. As I mentioned above, engineered hardwood can handle moisture and changes in temperature better. This means that you don’t have to be as careful as you would with solid. 

Also, engineered hardwood can handle harsher cleaners, but I personally would still take caution and use the recommended ones.

Basically, this all means that engineered hardwood is more durable than solid. And you don’t have to stress as much when it comes to cleaning your floors.

Cleaning Oil Finished Engineered Hardwood

Oil-finished engineered hardwood is a popular engineered hardwood choice. We actually have this hardwood finish in our current home and love it! When the oil finish is applied to the wood, it penetrates the surface. This allows more texture and natural color to come through.

Cleaning oil-finished hardwood is a little different than cleaning normal engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. There is a little more maintenance to these floors, but they are worth it. The only product I would recommend for cleaning oil-finished engineered hardwood is WOCA Natural Soap. It is also recommended to apply another coat of oil about every year.

Keeping your engineered hardwood clean doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these simple tips and you’ll keep them looking beautiful for years to come!

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