Hardwood floors: How to clean and care for

Hardwood Floors- how to take care of

 

After purchasing a home after over a decade of living in various crappy rentals, I realized that I might be a bit in over my head.  While viewing houses on the market in anticipation of buying them, wood floors stood out as classic, beautiful, and charming.  Fastforward to a month after move-in and oh-my-goodness-I-don’t-know-what-on-earth-I’m-doing.

So research I did.

In my rentals, I had used a Roomba vacuum on both carpet and laminate, with great success. I love that it uses the little weed-eater-type-dust-flicker to really get into the corners and edges of the room, preventing me from having to use the hose-attachment to the regular vacuum and 20 minutes per room that I don’t want to spend vacuuming.  It also gets under the beds, a plus for keeping dust to a minimum.

Right before moving in, after a solid year of happiness with my Roomba, I invested in a swiffer-type robot that is designed to pick up crumbs, pet hair, and some dirt.  The Braava is a lighter duty and much quieter version of the Roomba, and it swiffers automatically, also getting under the chairs and couch with ease.  It keeps the floor barefoot-walkable without any extra work from me.

On my rental laminate floors, I had used a steam mop happily for years.  I loved the hiss of the steam coming out and assuring me that any bacteria on my floor would be quickly boiled beyond harm, that the mop easily picked up even old spills with a few quick strokes, and that the pad were washable.  To clean laminate flooring, I would go around and spray any spots with a 50/50 vinegar solution, drop a few drops of tangerine essential oil on my steam mop, and go to town, finishing the job in less than 10 minutes.

Wood floor care

I wasn’t sure if steam was okay to use on hardwood, though, so I checked with some experts to find out. Even though most brands of steam mops claim that they can be used on hardwood floors, it turns out that experts recommend NOT using them.  The heat used is hard on the finish, causing your floors to need to be refinished more often and wear quicker. In addition, if your floors are not completely sealed, especially in high traffic areas where the seal may have been worn off, the steam will be absorbed by the wood and will cause damage to the wood floor, and even the particle board subfloor underneath.

Without steam mopping, how are we to clean our floors?

If your floor is well finished with a polyeurethane sealer, you can use a water-based cleaner on it.  Woodwash is recommended for this well-cared for floor. The steps for cleaning are to vacuum well, swiffer up any remaining dust or crumbs, and then spray woodwash on an area that you can reach (approx 4 ft x 2 feet) and use one rag to wash with the cleaner, another dry rag to dry immediately after.

You can also use just plain water to wash, using the same 2-rag method to clean and dry. To preserve the life of your finish, using a cleaner that is closest to a neutral phas possible is recommended. If you get either an alkaline or acidic cleaner, it will cause more wear on your floors.

If your floor has some worn spots, as I noticed mine did as I was sitting on the floor stocking the bookshelf upon movein, you can test the floor using a water test.

To test, drop a couple drops of water on the most worn part of the floor. If they stay beaded up over the next couple minutes, you can use water-based cleaners as described above. If the water soaks in, you can use odorless mineral spirits to clean until you get a chance to refinish the floor.

To clean using odorless mineral spirits: vacuum the floor well, swiffer or sweep to pick up any excess dust or crumbs. Next squirt a small amount of mineral spirits on the dirty parts of the floor, and wipe clean with multiple rags until all the mineral spirits are picked up.

Daily maintenance

If you’re like me, there’s nothing as annoying as coming down with bare feet to get the coffee started and having crumbs, dirt, or pet hair cling to your feet. Ick.

To keep my floors barefoot friendly in less than 5 minutes a day, I follow the following routine:

  1. Remove shoes at the door. I don’t ask my guests to, but most people will when they see a couple pairs of shoes lined up next to the door.
  2. Vacuum under the table and/or in the kitchen daily (2 minutes)
  3. Before bed, or while watching TV at night, set the Braava to run with a reusable microfiber cloth or swiffer pad.
  4. Once a month, or once a week if you have pets or children in your house often, spot clean the floor, on hands and knees preferably while the sun is directly shining on your floor so you can easily see any spots.

Photo credit

 

I am not a professional real estate agent, broker, or financial adviser. I have no qualifications to give financial, investment, or real estate, or any other advice. I'm a single woman sharing what she has learned, and I encourage you to always double and triple check information found here. The content of the pages of this website is opinion and personal experience only. It is subject to change without notice.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Why Women Primarily Want to Own: So You Want to Buy

women as homeowners - reasoning

While both genders are attracted to the idea of owning a home, their reasoning is often slightly different.  It’s important to understand this, so when you are talking to your dad, brother, or male friends about your decision to purchase a home, you aren’t offended when they say, ‘that’s not a good reason to own a house’.  It’s not that your way is wrong, it’s just that the two genders tend to think about home ownership for different reasons.

Single women are buying homes at twice the rate single men are, we are responsible for 1/5th the housing purchases in the united states this decade.  We buy as an addition to our investment portfolio, to secure a place in a safe neighborhood, to get the size (bigger or smaller) that we need, and to be close to work.

Men tend to buy thinking in the immediate future, planning on being in the home for less than 5 years before moving up.  Women, on the other hand, look more long term and into a place where they intend to stay for over 5 years.  Single women choose sububurbs over cities, and for single moms, school district quality is a big determinant in where she buys.

 

I am not a professional real estate agent, broker, or financial adviser. I have no qualifications to give financial, investment, or real estate, or any other advice. I'm a single woman sharing what she has learned, and I encourage you to always double and triple check information found here. The content of the pages of this website is opinion and personal experience only. It is subject to change without notice.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Pre Move-In Checklist – Do’s and Don’ts prior to Closing

After closing and before moving into your new home

So you have passed your inspection, appraisal, and are looking forward to the close date on your new home!  What next?

  • Anything can fall through on either end prior to the actual signing at closing, so DON’T put in your 30 days’ notice on your current rental yet.
  • DO look into the process for putting your 30 days’ notice in, and have a letter drafted up so it’s one less thing you have to do.  Mail it out or hand it in right after you get back from closing, assuming you don’t need more than a month to get your new place move-in ready.
  • Owning a new home is exciting! But DON’T succumb to the temptation to go buy new furniture and decor unless you have a huge amount set aside for that stuff, separate from what you need for your down payment. Absolutely DO NOT finance anything, as is noted in the small print on your loan pre-approval, the mortgage company does not want to see you financing anything at all between pre-approval and the actual closing. I personally recommend never financing furniture anyway.
  • DO look around your current home and hold a yard sale, donate anything you haven’t used in 6 months (or since you moved in!), and list anything you don’t need on Craigslist.  If you’re depositing cash from selling things, DO be sure to keep notes, the mortgage company may want an explanation for a random deposit in your account. I recommend only taking payment in cash, and then spending the cash on things you need anyway, like groceries.
  • DO make a list of things you will need to buy for new home upkeep, and start researching good brands.  Some things you may need: Lawn mower, hose and sprinklers, snow shovels, salt to de-ice sidewalks, cleaning equipment if you’re moving out of a home with roommates and the vacuum, etc, belongs to someone else, more heavy duty yardwork items such as hedge shears.  Ladders for reaching the attic space and any tall storage,
  • DON’T feel like you need to buy these right away. Have a list, and research brands, but wait to buy things as you need them to allow you to shop around and spread out the purchases.
  • DO make a list of utilities that need to be turned off, utilities that need to turn on at the new place, and make sure you have money set aside for the overlap of the two for a month (or longer).
  • DO start seeing who will help you move in exchange for pizza and beer and set a tentative move date. Or price out moving companies (make sure you have a clause in the contract that you can get out of the contract if your closing falls through!), look into POD containers, and see about DIY moving with companies such as U-Haul if your move is a greater distance than can be paid for in pizza and beer.
  • DO dream about decorating your new place, backyard barbiques, and early morning coffee on the front porch as you get to know your neighbors! This is an exciting time, dreaming and pinning is encouraged!

I am not a professional real estate agent, broker, or financial adviser. I have no qualifications to give financial, investment, or real estate, or any other advice. I'm a single woman sharing what she has learned, and I encourage you to always double and triple check information found here. The content of the pages of this website is opinion and personal experience only. It is subject to change without notice.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Disadvantages of Home Ownership: So You Want to Buy

Disadvantages to buying a home - Single Woman Homeowner

Buying a home can be an amazing investment and a fulfilling life decision if made at the right time.  However, the right time for home ownership will be different for everyone.  Ms. Steady might be ready right off the bat as she settles into an entry level position in her first career, while Ms. Gypsy may need to work out some travel bugs, and even try a few cities on for size before she’s ready to settle down and commit to a location long term.

Disadvantages of home ownership, particularly for single women:

  1.  You’re locked into a location for 2-5+ years. To re-coup closing costs, even in a steadily rising market, you want to plan on staying in the same location for 2-5 years.  Until you’re settled into a job and/or community, you may find it appealing to keep your options open and be able to change locations to follow your career or try out different living environments.  (check out this calculator to calculate whether it’s less expensive to buy or rent depending on the duration)
  2. You could be locked into a location for even longer. If you buy during a falling market, you may find yourself unexpectedly owing way more on your mortgage than your home is worth, causing you to need to stay there long term to pay down your mortgage until your balance is low enough that you can sell it.  I believe the housing market can be roughly predicted to be rising in most places, but there will always be unexpected fluctuations.
  3. Home maintenance.  As a homeowner, especially of an older home though they all require some maintenance, you’ll be responsible for everything from cleaning out the gutters to finding out that your house was wired wrong and needs a whole new breaker box and updated wiring!  Problems need to be corrected promptly to protect the safety and value of your home.  As my dad says, ‘owning a home is like having a part time job!’.  Make sure you have the time and ability to figure out what needs to be fixed, what you can do yourself, and what you will need to outsource.
  4. Incidental costs.  Those who make a habit of living paycheck to paycheck, owning a home may quickly become a huge source of stress for you.  The reason banks require a down payment? It’s not only to make sure you have some ‘skin in the game’ but it’s also to ensure that you have the self control to save up for major purchases.  If you find that life is full of unexpected costs that are preventing you from every being able to save, you will want to figure out how to anticipate theses costs and lower your cost of living to accommodate them before embarking on a major purchase with regular upkeep that owning a house requires.

 

 

I am not a professional real estate agent, broker, or financial adviser. I have no qualifications to give financial, investment, or real estate, or any other advice. I'm a single woman sharing what she has learned, and I encourage you to always double and triple check information found here. The content of the pages of this website is opinion and personal experience only. It is subject to change without notice.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Advantages of Home Ownership: So You Want to Buy

the benefits of home ownership as a single woman

There are both pros and cons to buying a home, single woman or not.  If the benefits are things that you care about at this point in your life, they can be extremely satisfying.

Compared to renting, 5 benefits to owning are outlined below. See what speaks to you,and take both pros and cons into consideration.

  1. Not having to move if your landlord decides to sell his rental, or if he needs to rent it to a family member or friend.  When I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, just 5 months into a month-to-month contract, I got a call from our landlord. I had a sinking feeling when I heard the nervousness in her voice, and then she gave it to me- the famous 30-days notice. I cried.  “I’m having a baby in 30 days!”  there was nothing they could do, they had to sell the property to cover another investment that was losing money, and I was stuck house searching with a toddler in tow and ready to go into labor any minute. Owning a home means that as long as you are making your financial commitments, you are in complete control of being able to stay in your own home.
  2. Not worrying about your monthly housing expense increasing. As the market fluctuates, some landlords will continue to be thankful that you’re a good tenant and pay your bills on time, but some will decide to raise the rent because they think they can get a higher monthly payment now than they could 2 years ago when you signed your lease.  At times this can even jump hundreds of dollars a month!  With home ownership, as long as you are saving and anticipating for needed home repairs, your monthly payment to the bank is always predictable and stays the same the entire duration of the loan.
  3. In most cases, you will move less often.  Many people that rent move fairly often (often due to the two points above), and with each move, there are expenses. Most landlords require that the carpets are professionally cleaned, which costs a couple hundred dollars.  In addition, there is the overlap that you are paying double rent, even if it’s just for a weekend, as your things are moved.  Applying for new rentals often costs $20-$40 per person applying for a credit and background check, per rental application!  In worst-case scenarios, a nit picky landlord can nickle and dime away most or all of your security deposit. Moving creates wear and tear on furniture and other belongings as well.
  4. Tax Deductions. If your monthly payment (not just the mortgage – but taxes, insurances, etc) is the same as what you would be paying in rent, the bonus is that home ownership gives you a tax deduction as well!
  5. Hanging Pictures, investing in furniture, and making the house into a home.  While renting, decorating is hindered by the idea that in 6 months to a couple years you will be moving again, for sure. At that time your house will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, and you’ll be repairing every wall that you hung a picture on, taking out any shelf paper you put in, and re-painting any room you added a bit of color to.  When you own a home you’re not stuck with rental-white walls, flat paint in the kitchen, or minimal decor because you don’t want to spend much on something that might not work with your next house.

 

 

I am not a professional real estate agent, broker, or financial adviser. I have no qualifications to give financial, investment, or real estate, or any other advice. I'm a single woman sharing what she has learned, and I encourage you to always double and triple check information found here. The content of the pages of this website is opinion and personal experience only. It is subject to change without notice.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.