Hardwood floors are the ultimate in classic style and elegance, but they come with some inherent issues. A slippery floor can be a hazard in your home, and you should ensure that you take measures to counteract these effects.
You may make your hardwood floors less slippery by cleaning it regularly, using acts, deep cleaning bi-annually, or placing non-slip mats. Cleaning product and wax residue must be removed with the proper cleaning agents, or you may need to re-sand and refinish your hardwood floor.
The beauty of a hardwood floor is its shine, but the shine shouldn’t come at the cost of you or your family’s safety. Read on to find out some reasons why your floor is slippery and how to rectify them.
What Makes a Hardwood Floor Slippery?
Everyone at some stage of their lives has used a shiny wooden floor as a skating rink and tried a dramatic slide across the surface wearing their socks. No one has attempted the same with a length of carpet for a reason. When two surfaces interact, such as socks on a polished hardwood floor, friction comes into play.
Friction is the force between two surfaces sliding across each other (or attempting to), and friction will always slow the moving object down. Friction depends on the materials of which the two surfaces are made, and the rougher the surface, the greater the friction produced,
A slip occurs when the friction between the foot or foot cover surface does not provide enough resistance to counteract the forward and rearward forces when we take a step.
How Do I Make My Hardwood Floor Less Slippery?
There are many reasons why your hardwood floor might have turned itself into a wooden ice rink. Your cleaning products may be to blame in many instances, creating residues that reduce your wood floor’s surface friction. Frequent use of incorrect cleaning products can also affect your food surface and oil spillage, water, grime, polish, and worn finishes.
There are some ways to reduce your hardwood floor’s slipperiness and maintain a safe surface for your pets, children, and the elderly. These include:
Keep Your Hardwood Floor Clean
Cleaning is an essential means of preventing a buildup of grime that will create slickness on your floor surface. Dry contaminants like dust and powder act like tiny spheres and can act like microscopic ball bearings under your feet. They can also fill in the peaks and troughs that provide friction and make your wooden floor’s surface provide less friction.
A soft bristle broom or a mop treated with a dusting agent is an excellent option to remove dust and debris before cleaning. Your vacuum is also a great option with a non-abrasive hose attachment. Your high traffic areas should be cleaned with a damp (not wet) mop once a week, and the low traffic areas can be cleaned once a month or less. A microfibre headed mop is a good option for your wood floor.
Deep cleaning should be tackled at least twice a year using a wood floor mop and cleaning agents suited to your wooden floor. Ensure that you wring out your cloth or mop until it only slightly dampens before you clean and don’t allow water puddles to stand on the surface of your wood.
Dry Your Wooden Floor Surfaces Properly After Mopping
After water spills or damp mopping, the floor surface might be slippery, and you should ensure that the floor is dried properly. You could speed up the process with your AC or ceiling fan or use the good old fashioned towel method. Take a dry towel and run it over your damp floor underneath your broom or wrung out mop.
Ensure That You Mop and Clean Spills As They Happen
Water spills can be dangerous. Even surfaces that appear smooth to the eye, such as wooden floors, have microscopic peaks and valleys that provide friction. Water creates a barrier between these friction points and cancels out the friction providing topography. Much like cars aquaplane on a wet road surface, you might find yourself taking a spill.
Oil-based stains are particularly hazardous, and because the nature of wood is porous, it’s easy for oil to penetrate the surface and cause a slipping hazard or unsightly stains that are hard to clean.
Remove Wax or Polish Build-Up (No Vinegar Please!)
Although many DIY channels suggest that a vinegar solution is the best way to clean off the wax residue on some wooden floors, the National Wood Floor Association does not endorse this practice. On factory finished floors, the NWFA even goes as far as to warn people that the use of non-appropriate cleaners on your wooden floor may result in the void of your warranty.
Site finished floors (film-forming finishes) such as varnish or oil-modified urethane or UV cured finishes carry a specific warning regarding the degrading nature of acidic vinegar-based cleaning agents.
For this reason, you must know the exact nature of your wood finish before attempting to use any cleaning products not specifically suited to the nature of your wood finish.
Only Use Products Specifically Formulated for Your Wooden Floor
It is of crucial importance to use the proper cleaning agents for your floor. When you clean a wooden floor, you are not actually cleaning the wood itself; you are cleaning the chemical finish on the wood. Agents such as vinegar can degrade your wood finish and leave your floor dull and reduce the wood’s lifespan.
Using wax on certain site-finished floors can cause a slipping hazard because the floor finish is not designed for wax penetration, leaving the wax to form a potential slipping risk. These finishes include varnish and various urethane and UV cured finishes.
Cover Slippery Areas With Rugs
Rubber bottomed rugs in high traffic, slippery areas can be a quick fix while waiting for a more permanent solution. The best way to keep your hardwood floors from becoming slippery is to take preventative steps to reduce the amount of dirt and contaminants that come in contact with your floor.
A good idea is to place floor mats inside and outside exterior doors to prevent tracked contaminants and grime. Place a dedicated boot removal area to avoid water spills in bad weather being tracked onto your floor surface.
Apply Non-Slip Coatings and Paint
You have alternatives if your floor continues to pose a slip hazard even after cleaning attempts. These can be applied to your existing wood floors (dependent on the finish), or you may have to sand your wooden floor before their application. Non-slip wooden floor options include:
- Non-slip coatings provide a high traction finish that is scratch and chemical resistant. It is made from water-based urethane and dries in just 6-12 hours.
- Anti-slip wood spray is an epoxy in aerosol spray form that leaves a textured finish on your wooden floors. This spray is lead-free and chemical resistant and is a good option for pet owners whose dogs struggle to gain a grip on the floor surface,
- Non-skid paint for wood comes in a variety of colors and provides high traction yet barefoot-friendly surface.
Sand and Refinish Your Hardwood Floor
If all else fails, it might be time to sand and refinish your hardwood floor. All the accumulated cleaning agents and embedded grime built up over time will be removed and allow you to choose your new finish. This should always be done by a professional and depends on the nature of your wooden floor.
Solid wood flooring is made of solid wood through its entire thickness and is generally made of oak, maple, or walnut wood. The advantage of solid hardwood is that it can be sanded or refinished multiple times over its lifespan. Though engineered hardwood looks the part, it is only a thin layer of hardwood bonded to a plywood substrate and can not be sanded or refinished more than once.
How Do I Make My Hardwood Floor More Slippery?
If an indoor wooden skating rink is what you seek or you are planning to eliminate unwanted house guests, you can use the above information in reverse. Good old wax polish buffed up to a super sheen would be a good option or use wood furniture polish on your floor because it will harden into an ultra-slick top coat.
A hardwood floor is an investment that can last you for a lifetime, and a well-maintained hardwood floor is the height of classic beauty. Ensure you know your wood and its finish and use finish appropriate cleaning products and tools. Use preventative methods such as carpets and floor mats and maintain your floor diligently, and your floor will not become a slipping hazard.