7 flooring mistakes to avoid: they could cost thousands to repair

These flooring mistakes are completely avoidable, but expensive to rectify. How many floor crimes are you guilty of committing?

A white living room with light wooden flooring and low-seat deck style chair decor
(Image credit: Carpetright)

First impressions count, so ensure guests don't spot these flooring mistakes when they walk into your home. From warping to scratches, dents, and water damage, there are a multitude of sins that don't stand to show your home off in its best light.

The type of flooring you choose needs to function well and withstand the pressure you put on it. Temperature, humidity, and abrasive actions can all take their toll on your floor. So it's worth looking at how you live (an who you live with) when making that all-important buying decision.

Likewise, if you're renting, you'll be expected to keep your floors in good condition. But be warned, you may lose your deposit if your landlord deems any imperfections beyond reasonable wear and tear. And your choice of footwear can lead to you forfeiting that down payment.

Flooring mistakes you might be making

So, if you're concerned that you're unintentionally damaging your floor, walk this way (shoes off first)...

1. You're walking on floors with high heels on

A modern hallway with clothing rail and shoe rack

(Image credit: Dunelm)

We're all guilty of buying a new pair of shoes and testing out their comfort factor in the house. But if you're constantly using your home as a catwalk, you could be wrecking your wood floors.

'High heels are the biggest offender when it comes to permanently scarring wooden floors,' notes Zoe Dromgoole, hardwood flooring expert at Wood Flooring Ireland (opens in new tab).

'Stilettos in particular can leave really noticeable dents on the surface of wood or even engineered wood flooring. Obviously, if this keeps happening over a significant period of time you’ll probably have to sand and refinish your hardwood floors due to the damage, which could cost you anywhere up to $2,500 depending on the size of the room!'

The much cheaper alternative? Get yourself a stylish shoe rack, pop it in the hallway and use it as a place to store your heeled shoes so you're not strutting from room to room, causing damage as you go.

2. You're using the wrong vacuum attachment

Rustic oak engineered wood flooring in open plan living space

(Image credit: Flooring Mountain)

Treating yourself to the best vacuum cleaner is adulting 101. As you take your vac out of the box, you might notice all of these brand-new bits and bobs, including awesome attachments to clean a carpet and laminate flooring.

However, it's important to switch out your accessories as you move from varying surfaces, as one expert explains:

‘When using a vacuum to clean wooden floors, there are a number of precautions you should consider,' says David Snazel, hard flooring buyer, Carpetright (opens in new tab).

'Make sure your vacuum does not have a rotating beater bar, as they can scratch wooden floors. They are primarily meant for carpets to lift dirt and debris. Instead, consider an adjustable vacuum with powerful suction.'

'Some hardwood surfaces trap dust and dirt, which can be tough to remove without strong suction. Alternatively, choose a vacuum that has a beater bar that can be turned off when cleaning hard floors.'

'If your vacuum has wheels, ensure they are not metal or plastic, as these can harm the floor's surface. Instead, opt for a vacuum with padding such as rubber.’

3. Letting pets roam freely with unclipped claws

Older and distinguished mini daxie puppy dog sitting on hardwood floor in modern living room. Wrinkled brown fur matching colors of leather.-112778773

(Image credit: Getty / Back in the Pack dog portraits (#112778773))

'Some of you may love to hear the sound of your dog's nails clicking on a hardwood floor, but every click and clack is causing damage to the surface veneer, on closer inspection, you’ll begin to notice scuffs and scratches too. Again, if left unattended over a long period of time, you may need to re-do the entire floor so keep those nails trimmed!' says Dromgoole.

While it's not exactly the chicest of buys, trips to a specialist groomer can cost you a fair bit each month. So if you're able to give your dog a pedicure at home, get yourself a dog nail grinder on Amazon (opens in new tab). Despite the cringe-worthy name, these nifty nippers are super gentle on their claws and are just like the electronic files you'd get at your beauty salon. And, while you are treating them, upgrade their dog bed and think about where you place it to limit traffic across the most vulnerable flooring.

'When renovating your home, avoid making design and material decisions that don’t suit your lifestyle. If you have pets, marble flooring is a material to avoid. Not only is it expensive, but it can stain and scratch easily. You are best to go for laminate flooring to avoid it getting ruined by your cat’s claws.' adds Lizzie Beesley, head of design at Magnet Trade (opens in new tab).

4. Not cleaning up spills quick enough

Believe it or not, letting liquids seep into your floor is a big no-no if you want it to last for a long time. When it comes to stain removal, acting immediately with the best wooden floor cleaner will save you from lifting up your boards and forking out (potentially thousands) to redo the job.

'Spillages and excess moisture are major issues when it comes to wooden floors,' warns Dromgoole.

'If you leave a spill set for long enough the liquid will actually begin to penetrate deep into the wood itself, which can result in warping, which will need to be sanded to be restored.'

'On top of this, there’s going to be nasty discoloration and unsightly stains. Be vigilant and keep your floors as dry as possible.'

5. Overcleaning

Yep... there is such a thing. While we all love a clean home, 'the dose makes the poison,' so go easy on your ground. We're aware that sometimes the best cleaning products do contain harsh chemicals which can corrode, but even too much water can spoil your floor surface.

'Over cleaning is something we see quite often, and people don’t usually appreciate the risks that come with it,' says Dromgoole.

'If you are consistently mopping your floor, you’re running the risk of warping the surface, if your floors are still visibly wet several minutes after cleaning, you’re using way too much water.'

PSA: Do not go near real wood with a steam mop. Cleaning hardwood floors with this moist appliance can ruin them because of the material's porosity. 

'Less is more here, and never, ever use steam to clean a wood floor. The sudden changes in temperature and moisture content will warp the floor, fixing this issue can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the severity!' Dromgoole explains.

'Using a vacuum cleaner is best when it comes to cleaning here, avoid brushing unless you’re using a broom with very soft bristles as you don’t want to scuff up the surface.'

If you're only dealing with a bit of dirt here and there, clear debris with your handheld vacuum. You can be much more cautious by hovering your vac over a small surface area as the level of suction should suffice.

To finish up and clean anything stuck on, use a regular mop with a little (emphasis on a little) bit of water. Something like the Bona premium hardwood spray mop, (available from Amazon) (opens in new tab) is perfect. It's essentially like a big, floor-friendly microfiber cleaning cloth you'd use around the house.

6. Choosing the wrong flooring for the room

'Hardwood may look lovely, but in the bathroom (a room in the house which is known to be hot and humid), it most definitely isn’t the best option,' says Beesley.

'A laminate or vinyl flooring with a waterproof finish is much more suitable. With DIY vinyl flooring receiving millions of views on TikTok (opens in new tab), it is a staple for home renovation and the bathroom is one of the best places to make use of it.' 

Cleaning vinyl flooring is super easy, and cost-effective. You can use vinegar to clean it, and LVT options today are a lot more design-led than they were a few decades ago, with wood and stone look should you want it.

7. Having unpadded furniture

We all like to switch up our living room layout now and again – reconfiguring your lounge can improve the Feng Shui, which is meant to be brilliant for improving your mental wellbeing.

But... and this is a big but.... if you're moving your sofa to the other side of the room, take caution and invest in some furniture pads on Amazon (opens in new tab). You get loads of circular pads in a pack, and you can slide your fixtures, rather than lift them. So you'll save your back and your floor.

The same sticky patches can be popped on coffee tables, ottomans... Essentially anything with legs.

Christina Chrysostomou
Christina Chrysostomou

Christina joined the Real Homes team as a digital writer in June 2021. Prior to this, she worked for Good Homes magazine and home interest events including the Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live. She lives close to Epping Forest and is spoiled for choice with lush green spaces, but loves her own English garden that adjoins her ground-floor maisonette, complete with a floral melange of roses, lavender, jasmine, and an apple tree.


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