Can Damage to Hardwood Floors Caused by Steam be Avoided?

If you’re wondering if steam-damaged hardwood floors can be avoided, perhaps the first question should be if steam can damage flooring. Yes. It certainly can and will.

Steaming Hardwood Floors is NOT Alright

Even if you are using a “hardwood floor safe” steam mop to clean your flooring, chances are it will get damaged over time. Steam cleaners put heat and excessive water on floors which eventually lead to long-term damaged, like cupping and swelling. The finish may even peel off.

There are two main ways hardwood floors are damaged by steam:

  1. On a surface level – where the finish (such as urethane) becomes compromised
  2. Structural damage to the actual wood – where it warps, withers, and bows.

If you are insistent on steaming your hardwood flooring, go easy. Use a steam mop that doesn’t put out much steam and that doesn’t reach an extremely high temperature. Never add much vinegar to the cleaning solution and never use bleach or bleach products.

In addition to intentionally steaming a floor to get it clean, some areas are prone to steamy conditions that can’t be helped. Floors near saunas or even laundry rooms or dishwashers can be subject to damage from steam.

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What to Do for Floors with Steam Damage

If the damage to your floor is mostly on the surface, you’re in luck because you can simply sand and refinish it. Otherwise, the solution is more involved.

If your flooring has already suffered damage, there are a few things you can do. You can attempt to reattach planks that are popping up due to being damaged. If your flooring is nailed, try adding an extra nail or two. If it’s glued, glue it down again.

Sometimes warping occurs, totally disfiguring the plank. If that’s the case, you can replace the plank or planks which are hopefully just a few.

Removing the problem from the equation is helpful too. If the damage is due to steaming the floor when you clean it, find another cleaning method. If the flooring is in an area that is prone to steam, you can toss a throw rug over the part of the floor that is the most exposed.

Buy Wisely and Clean Wisely

It’s helpful to know beforehand what condition your hardwood flooring will be exposed to. If you are laying flooring in a steamy room, you might consider engineered hardwood flooring rather than solid wood.

If is also a good idea to thorough research your cleaning habits before embarking on them. While steam mop manufacturers will say steaming hardwood is safe, hardwood floor manufacturers typically disagree.

If the damage is done already, your best option is to do your best to repair the damage and protect the repaired flooring from any further damage. Hardwood flooring is designed to last for years and years but you have to use caution and take care of them accordingly.

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