Add felt protectors to furniture legs to help pick up debris and protect floors from scratches, says Brett Miller, an expert from the National Wood Flooring Association. Replace them as needed, as they`ll wear down and become less effective over time. For furniture that slides around often: kitchen and dining chairs, for example, replace the protectors every month.
Traditionally, hardwood flooring came in thick planks of solid timber. Today, solid hardwood is still widely available, but many companies also offer engineered flooring—planks made with a thinner top layer of hardwood, bonded to other layers designed to prevent the floor from shifting during expansion and contraction cycles. All wood moves in three directions: There`s tangential, radial, and longitudinal movement.
If you need an excuse to shop, the one must-have decor item with hardwood flooring is a rug. It will perform double duty as a decorating piece and floor protector.
It`s important to keep in mind that wood floors are natural and will be affected by the environment. While there`s no need to panic if you see some gaps develop between boards during dry seasons, if the wood doesn`t shrink back into place during humid seasons — July through August, then you should bring in a certified wood flooring professional to assess the separation.
Leave stilettos and tap shoes at the door to avoid puncturing the wood. While you`re at it, consider enforcing a no-shoe policy for all types of footwear to keep things extra clean.
Hardwood planks can be purchased with a raw face that gets finished by a professional after installation, or prefinished, which arrives with the stain and topcoat already applied. The advantage of prefinished wood is that you know exactly what you`re getting.