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A new hardwood floor is a major home renovation that will likely cost a fair amount of money and time. Using the floors or setting furniture on them before they're ready could jeopardize your project. But just how long should you wait before walking on and putting furniture on your new hardwood floors? We have researched this subject for you and written on it down below.
The answer to these questions does vary based on what kind of floors you get. We'll give you rough estimates here. You should wait approximately six hours before walking on your new hardwood floor in socks. For furniture, wait around three days, and rugs should stay off the floor for about a week.
As mentioned, there are quite a few factors that can come into play here. The products used to sand and refinish your hardwood floors will play a significant role in drying and setting time. We'll look into these factors and more down below, so continue reading for more information.
When can I walk on my refinished hardwood floors?
One of the first things people will want to know after installing hardwood floors is to have access to their house. This number will vary depending on the type of finish and product they used on their hardwood floors.
When can I walk on polyurethane wood floors?
You can safely walk on floors set with polyurethane products after 2-3 hours of setting. Refrain from walking on the floors with any shoes for up to 24 hours after laying. The entire curing process takes three days for your floors to be completely safe from any scuffing from footwear.
If you used oil polyurethane products, the time period before walking on your floors is much longer. There should be no traffic at all on your floors for at least 24 hours. After 48 hours of sitting, you can walk on your floors with socks, though it's best not to stay in your home for the first five days due to the fumes.
Other floor finishes
If using a hard wax oil finish, you should be able to walk lightly on the floors 6 to 8 hours after setting. Light traffic between rooms can occur in 36 hours. The complete curing process takes between 5 to 7 days.
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When can cats walk on refinished hardwood floors?
You can allow your cat to walk on your hardwood floors around the same time you'd allow light sock traffic. Cats walk with their nails retracted, unlike dogs, and therefore shouldn't contribute scuffs or damage to your floors. On the other hand, keep your dogs off the floors until the full curing process is finished. This is because their nails are non-retractable and will contribute to scuffing and marks.
That being said, keep in mind the fumes being released during the curing process as well. If it's recommended for people to be out of the house while your floors are curing, it stands to reason the same goes for your pet. Keep kitty's health in mind as well as your floor's.
When can you put furniture on new hardwood floors?
Furniture is the next logical step to putting your house back together, but it can pose more challenges for your fresh floor. Moving furniture and having it rest on your floors is a prime way to damage if done too early. So when is a good time to start moving in on your floor?
This again depends mainly on what material went into sanding and curing your floor. All of these materials have different time frames before finishing their curing process, and therefore you'll have to work within their specific timeframes.
Polyurethane products such as Bona can have furniture placed upon them approximately 24 hours after being set. Some product forms recommend waiting up to two days before moving furniture in, so read up on your exact product. Erring on the long side of caution is always better than moving too fast. Keep full area rugs off the floor for three days.
Oil polyurethane products will require you to wait up to 72 hours before moving in any furniture. Mind any issues with fumes during the moving process, and don't press yourself to stay in the house longer than is healthy to move furniture. The five-day recommended period for complete curing still holds here. Keep full area rugs off the floor for around a week.
Hard Wax Oil
For floors finished with hard wax oil finish can have furniture on them in 36 hours. Keep full area rugs off until a week has passed. It's imperative to make sure that no water gets on floors with hard wax oil finish until the entire curing process is done. This is another reason to let some time pass before moving any furniture in on a new floor. If you make a mess, it might be challenging to clean it up right away.
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Cleaning new hardwood floors
The curing process is a sensitive time for your floors, and even a simple process like cleaning can potentially cause problems. You don't want to leave a mess on your floor either, however. So what is the right time to clean fresh hardwood floors?
How long before you can use new hardwood floor cleaner?
The curing process is entirely chemical and thus easily impacted by adding new chemicals like floor cleaners. Wait until the entire curing process is finished before introducing any cleaners onto your floor. You'll want to wait approximately 15 days after setting your floor before doing any cleaning with a chemical product. You can, however, do some light sweeping with a quality dry microfiber mop after about seven days.
How long do hardwood floors last?
After investing so much time and resources into your floor, the logical question is: How long is this going to last? This is both a simple enough question, as well as a complex one. The good news is that the actual wood that comprises your hardwood floors can last for the duration of your home. The less desirable news is that the finish is likely to lose its luster due to simple wear and tear.
The two main processes your floor will need to go through are recoating and refinishing. Recoating is the simpler of the two, intending to extend the life of your finish. It's a less expensive process and, if done every 3-5 years, will reduce the number of times you have to refinish your floors.
Refinishing should be done approximately every 8 to 12 years, but this can vary depending on how rough you are with your floors. If your home is a high-traffic area, say if you have several pets or children moving through the home every day, you might need to refinish more often.
Choosing not to refinish or recoat your floors is also an option. Leaving the floors as they were installed is preferable to some homeowners. This is a fine option if you want to save some money, but your floors will lack polish. To maintain their original sheen, you will have to recoat and refinish.
How do you care for newly refinished hardwood floors?
Along with keeping off the floors and avoiding cleaner for the periods of time we mentioned, there are a few other tips you can use to keep your freshly refinished hardwood floors safe.
Keep all windows and drapes in the home closed shut for at least the first 24 hours. Direct sunlight can do damage to the finish if you subject your floors to it. After 24 hours, your finish should be able to handle the sunlight.
Avoid using any wet mops or vacuums on the floor for the first week. These can break down the finish and do damage before it fully sets. Please stick to the dry microfiber mop we recommended above to clean up any dry messes or dusting. Cleaning can resume after a week but avoid soap and water. Opt for a hardwood cleaner instead.
Lastly, make sure not to leave any standing fluids or spills on the floor for any amount of time. If any liquid spills on the floor, clean it up immediately with a soft towel. Any liquids allowed to dry on the floor run the risk of soaking into the wood and doing lasting damage.
There can feel like a lot when it comes to protecting your newly finished hardwood floors, but we hope this article has helped you navigate. If you're smart about it and don't cut corners, your new wood floors will be looking fantastic for years to come, and you'll be happy you took the time to care for them.