Typically, when customers hear this they kind of sigh and visibly let go of the hope that their hardwood floor was special and would never scratch.....or..... that the scratch might just magically disappear if they rub it hard enough.
The truth is - hardwood floors do scratch and continue to scratch if not taken care of. With this said, customers need to see their hardwood floor as a fine wine aging and improving over the years. A floor that shows signs of having been lived on and with can still be a beautiful thing.
Here are some suggestions to minimize the issues that may come up regarding scratches.
1. Most importantly, the customers' expectations need to be properly set before they purchase the floor. Don’t pull any punches on this topic, your client won’t thank you later.
2. Having established that all hardwood floor finishes scratch (pre-finished and site finished), you can begin to advise them on:
a) how they can best care for their new flooring (click here for maintenance) and,
b) advise them on a hardwood style or floor character that best suits their needs. Don’t leave them thinking
that a harder hardwood such as Brazilian Cherry will solve the scratch problem because it won’t. Harder
hardwoods do dent or compress less than their softer counterparts but the finish on top will still scratch.
3. Factory applied finishes are stronger than site applied finishes. Leave site applied, oil modified finishes, such as Polyurethane or Swedish finishes to cure for 48 hours before resuming normal foot traffic. Water-based finishes cure much faster (24 hours) - but check the product instructions.
4. Aluminum oxide and ceramic finishes are very strong but still scratch. It is ,however, unlikely that you will wear through these finishes to the wood. Be clear with your customer, set their expectations. Successful warranty claims based on premature wearing of floor finish are VERY rare in hardwood flooring. Read the 25 year warranty small print and help your customer understand why, because it will be you and your customer against the manufacturer should a claim be made later.
5. The darker the wood floor colour the more the scratches will show. Scratches are typically light in colour and therefore show up in strong contrast to a darker background. Ever owned a black car? It's no different in the world of hardwood flooring.
6. If your customer has 3 kids, a cat and a dog, then consider a floor with a busy grain that helps disguise inevitable wear and tear such as a plain sawn, natural Red or White Oak, Hickory, or Ash. Busy grains distract the eye.
7. Maple (stained or natural), Brazilian Cherry, American Walnut or American Cherry are not good durability choices. The grains in these woods are subtle and not busy like Oak, hence wear and tear and defects show up more. Always point out that American Walnut and American Cherry are softer hardwoods and will dent easily.
8. Recommend a low or satin sheen. This also helps to disguise wear and tear. Glossier finishes only highlight scratches and imperfections.
9. Dust or dry mop regularly. Spot clean sticky spills. Don’t wet mop the floor. Use a Swiffer in a ‘snow plow’ fashion to accumulate dust and grit. Use a soft head vacuum cleaner.
10. Keep outside shoes off the floor.
11. Felt glides are a must on all furniture legs, even with laminate flooring.
12. New Kitchen appliances will scratch the hardwood flooring. If you have new flooring in the Kitchen and you are having new appliances delivered make sure the delivery people are take care not to drag or push the new fridge, stove or dishwasher across the hardwood floor. If they do they will leave scratch marks in the floor. It happens so often and is not easy to fix.
13. If you hardwood or laminate in your office and have a rolling office chair, use a plastic desk chair mat to protect the hardwood or laminate floor, they only cost around $40 from Staples.
If you have set your customers expectations properly then they know that scratches are par for the course with a hardwood floor What do you do when the customer calls distressed about the first scratch?
Acknowledge the problem and be part of the solution.... this is good customer service.
Here are a few tips....