Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Water, Wood & Steamer Problems – Let’s Investigate

Water, Wood & Steamer Problems – Let’s Investigate

Recently it was brought to my attention that several large cleaning companies have been advertising that you can use their floor steamers on hardwood floors to clean them.  We thought we better address this issue on our site a bit.   We have found most people have heard the old adage – “wood and water don’t mix.”  When we have hardwood floors delivered we have to take several precautions during the new construction process because of this.
  • ·         Make sure the house is done being painted and that the paint has dried so extra moisture isn't absorbed by the wood
  • ·         Check the wood moisture content before installing the wood to make sure it is in range for your area  in Boise the range is 6 to 8% depending on the hardwood floor specie.
  • ·         Let the hardwood acclimate before installation, especially on remodels
  • ·         Remind homeowners to use minimal amounts of water when cleaning their floors.
  • ·         Boise, Idaho and the surrounding areas just has a very dry climate that fluctuates seasonally so precautions are necessary with wood flooring.

Our company, as well as the hardwood manufacturers highly recommend NOT using a steamer on their floors and in fact, it will void their warranties on the product if a customer does just one time. It is always important to do what the hardwood flooring company says in regards to their warranty, especially if you want to keep it.  Not only will it void a warranty, but the combination of steamed water and heat will open up the wood grain and the moisture will be absorbed from the steamer, at an even greater rate than if you were to just mop the floor.  Your hardwood floor will swell and buckle.  One can read on the internet from homeowners and the steamer manufacturers that if a floor is sealed that moisture will not get into the floor; however, no hardwood floor is sealed underneath – the sealing is always the top part of the wood only, so that just isn't true (see pictures below) so the hardwood flooring will be exposed without any protection. 
In summary, my advice would be to just use caution and not use steamers on hardwood and to remember the old adage that water and wood don’t mix and play it safe, so you can keep your hardwood floors looking better longer and not damaged and swollen.

PS – Everything in this article also applies to laminate wood flooring as well.

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