Ladies and gentlemen, this is a public service announcement... Stop using steam cleaners on your engineered hardwood floor!
How has this become a thing?
For years the predominant floor covering that went in a home was solid hardwood. At this time steam cleaners were presented as a quick and easy way to keep your floors looking squeaky clean. So for years people would break out their steam cleaners when it came time to tidy up the floors in their home, and for a time that wasn't an issue.
However, if you were to look at the solid wood in a home where steaming has been the primary method of cleaning you will notice something. The wood is several shades darker in the areas that have received regular steam cleaning than the areas that have not. Wood is a sponge to moisture. Something as simple as the humidity in a home can cause wood to expand and contract. Imagine what saturating your wood with hot water vapor does to it!
Now the issues in solid wood that steam cleaning presents are mainly cosmetic and will more often than not go unnoticed. This has become a problem because solid wood is no longer a frequently used floor covering and has been replaced with engineered hardwood.
Steam Cleaning and Engineered Wood.
Engineered hardwood is a product that is made up of many layers. Layers that are held together by adhesives. Unlike solid hardwood which is the same material all the way through. Steam cleaning a solid wood hasn't been an issue because of this. It absorbs the moisture like a sponge over time and the darkening of the wood is usually the worst case scenario. Engineered wood is a different story.
If you were to steam clean your engineered wood over a long period of time it is more than likely going to delaminate. This is where the top layer of the wood begins to peel off the engineered core. What is happening is that layer of oak, or maple, or whatever species you've selected has sucked up the moisture to the point where it has reached the adhesive below. The adhesive is not meant to handle this level of moisture and fails to hold the wood to the core causing delamination. The problem is now not just cosmetic but structural.
It is due to this issue that wood manufacturers have said, "If you use a steam cleaner on your engineered hardwood floor, your warranty is void." Wood is temperamental and needs to be maintained a certain way to keep your floor looking like new for years to come. We here at Small's are experts in making sure you are given the right solution to look after your wood floor.
Steam Cleaners Have a Purpose!
I know I've been hard in this post on steam cleaners but they are in fact an amazing product, just not for wood. Steam cleaners can be used to make everyday cleaning easier for you but only on certain products. Tile, vinyl, natural stone, linoleum, and a handful of others are perfect for steam cleaning. What do these materials have in common? They are waterproof. The products listed above are completely impervious to moisture. you can spill on them and clean then with whatever you want and you will not experience issues (Natural stone has a few guidelines to follow but that's for a different post).
I know this is a lot of information to take in but the last thing we want is for your brand new floor to be ruined by a cleaning mishap. Once again we are always available to answer any questions you might have about keeping your floors, new or old, looking sharp!