Hardwood floors are a popular upgrade for renters. Not only are these floors more aesthetically pleasing, in most cases the wood holds up much longer than traditional carpeting. What’s more, wood floors expand a landlord’s options when it comes to renting to tenants with pets.
However, there are some natural enemies — everyday missteps that can shave years off the life of your floors. With a little planning and some cooperation from your tenants, you can ward off those problems and prolong the value of your investment.
Here are 5 things to watch out for:
Water: Enemy Number One
Kitchen floors are the most vulnerable to water damage.
Obviously, that comes from water splashed out of the sink or dribbled out in front of the dishwasher. Non-staining cotton (or other breathable) rugs are a good fix.
Otherwise, ask tenants during orientation to keep an eye out for spills and mop up water right away so it doesn’t warp the floor.
In addition to the kitchen, floors near exterior doors suffer when rain or snow is tracked indoors. A breathable rug is a great fix.
All It Takes Is a Grain of Sand
Dirt can wreak havoc on wood floors. All it takes is one little pebble ground underfoot to leave its mark.
Floors should be vacuumed regularly, but vacuums with beaters can cause damage. It would be better for tenants to use a microfiber mop or other method of cleaning if their vacuum is not made for wood floors.
Any spills must be dabbed up immediately, especially alcohol, which can dull the finish.
Damp mopping is the recommended cleaning method for most floors, but it is important for tenants to understand that damp means barely moistened.
Tenants should avoid using cleaning products with waxes or polyurethane. You can save your floors simply by providing some advice on what cleaner the installer recommends. Better yet, provide the cleaner to get the tenant started. That undoubtedly will be cheaper than refinishing the floors prematurely.
Rugs Don’t Always Sit Well
Most tenants want to warm up the space by decorating with area rugs. Additionally, rugs can be used to limit scrapes that come from sliding chairs back and forth or running around with cleats or high heels. But, be careful. Some rugs actually cause significant damage to the floors.
Treated or glued rubber and vinyl backing can interact with the finish on the floor. Sticky, gripper-style rug pads can leave marks that must be sanded away. It’s best to use rugs rated for wood floors, and in addition, to use a foam or fiber rug pad — wood floors need to breathe. Tenants should steer clear of most rubber, latex, plastic and other non-ventilated rugs and padding.
Some colours can bleed into the floor, leaving a permanent stain. Care in selecting rugs and the use of fiber pads may eliminate that danger.
In lieu of rugs, tenants should use felt on the legs of furniture.
Blocking the Sun
Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can damage the finish or bleach out certain areas of a wood floor so it no longer appears uniform. Tenants don’t have to sit in the dark to protect the flooring. Even sheer drapes will help.
Also, changing up the furniture every now and again can prevent spotting, which is a good thing — so long as the furniture move doesn’t scuff the floor.
De-Icer Needs to Stay Outdoors
Those in cold weather climates have a special concern when it comes to de-icer sprinkled on sidewalks or porches. Those chemicals and salts will compromise the finish on the flooring.
Encourage tenants to leave their outdoor shoes on a rug at the door.
If you are remodeling, there is still time to create a tile entry that can handle more wear, and will be easier to replace than the hardwood.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.