9 Things You're Doing To Ruin Your Hardwood Floors Without Even Realizing It

04/13/2014 10:58 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2014

Hardwood floors are basically synonymous with stylish interiors these days -- and you already know that they require special care compared to other flooring choices. (For instance, they're the one thing you can't always clean naturally with a little vinegar and water.) However, there are a few things you're doing on a daily basis that are gradually ruining your floors...without even realizing it. Consider this your warning.

Skipping The Welcome Mat
welcome mat
Just imagine having sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes. That's what it's like walking in from the street and onto your hardwood floors, says Chris Sy of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. "In commercial spaces they call them walk-off rugs, because they want you to walk off all the stones or dirt or grit and grime on the bottom of your shoe. The hope is that your feet are cleaner by the time they hit the floor."

...Or A Runner By The Sink
"Just think about where you stand a lot or walk a lot."

Trying To Keep Your Throw Rugs In Place
wood floor damage
A throw rug can go from pretty to pesky in 2.5 seconds, or the minute they start sliding around underfoot. But Sy recommends resisting the urge to tack them down with double-sided tape. They can actually stick to a hardwood floor and it's almost impossible to get it off," he says. "Even when you pull it off, it can pull some of the finish with it." That goes for sticky, cushiony mesh-style rug pads, too. Instead, try a rug pad made of natural materials and make sure it doesn't have a sticky finish.

Skipping Furniture Pads
"When you sit down on the couch, if it's not on a rug, it's going to slide a little bit and over time that'll make for some obvious aggressive wear right where the foot of the couch is," Sy says. "They make two-inch rubber disks that aren't for the moving of furniture, they actually help to keep the couch from sliding around."

Bringing The Outdoors In
rain boots by door
"In my house, it's where the kids come in from the pool. They run inside and stand right in front of the door. While they're drying off there are puddles on the floor," Sy says. For others it's spots like where you take off your rain boots or underneath that plant and you haven't lifted off the floor. Another place where your wood flooring is susceptible to water damage? "Around dog bowls," Sy adds. "Those are all area that should have a rug or a plastic tray."

Mopping All Wrong
mopping wrong
"A lot of people mop with too much water and the more that water seeps down into the seams of your floor and builds up under your floor, it can cause negative movement," Sy says.

...Or Using The Wrong Cleaner
"There are hundreds of different kinds of finishes and each one can have a different type of cleaner that's required." Sy cautions that you might be using a cleaner that has heavy chemicals in it or even one with wax, which can build up on your floor -- not a good thing. "Make sure whatever your day to day or short-term maintenance is, you're doing it in accordance with the product you have."

scratched wood floor
"People don't maintain the floor at the right point," Sy says. "They let it go too long and all of a sudden that high-traffic area where you didn't have a rug, is worn away." If you see light scratches in high traffic areas, repair those boards (some finishes will require you to do the whole room over). It's easy to lightly buff and apply one coat of urethayne finish vs. sanding the whole thing down, re-staining and refinishing.

Skipping Fluffy's Pedicure
Pet nails can, over time, wear scratches into your floors. Cutting your dog or cat's nails isn't the most fun way to spend one's evening, so consider outsourcing this task to the groomer.

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