Hardwood Vs. Tile Flooring: Which Is Easier To Keep Clean?

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Hardwood and tile flooring can both offer an attractive, inviting touch to a home. They also share many of the same qualities. They're both durable, easy to install and maintain and come in dozens of different styles and colors. A standard cleaning for both typically doesn't require any more than a mop and an appropriate cleaner, but is one type of flooring easier to keep clean than the other? With all other factors equal, tile floors will maintain their clean appearance longer than hardwood floors and with less effort.

The reason involves the surface differences between the two types of flooring. Floor tiles can be made of various hard materials, including porcelain, ceramic, granite, limestone, and glass, most of which are water-resistant. Hardwood floors, in comparison, are less water resistant because they're more porous. This variation means that the amount of time and effort spent cleaning hardwood floors will generally be greater than with tile floors when you include minor cleanups throughout the week.

How to keep tile flooring clean

If you're like most homeowners, you clean your tile flooring every one to two weeks, but that doesn't mean you can't whip out the broom more frequently. Floors will inevitably get dirty daily from foot traffic, pet hair, or dust. And, of course, the more people and pets who live in your home, the dirtier your floors will get at the end of each day. To minimize the amount of time you spend during your Saturday morning house cleaning, you can sweep your tile floors a few times a week or even daily. This will prevent excessive buildup of debris, some of which can be abrasive.

The other part of floor cleaning and maintenance, of course, involves mopping. One of the nice features of tile flooring is that it doesn't show footprints, water spots, or other marks the way other types of flooring do. That means mopping weekly should be sufficient, but ensure you're using a cleaner appropriate for tile. Always read the label to determine for which surfaces the product is safe, or just purchase a cleaner that's made for tile, such as Rejuvenate Stone, Tile & Laminate Floor Cleaner.

Another thing to consider when mopping is the type of mop you use. Although floor tiles are known for their durability, it's still a good idea to opt for a mop with soft materials, like microfiber, as Two Maids' Operations Manager Kathy Cohoon recommends (via Better Homes & Gardens).

How to keep hardwood flooring clean

Like tile flooring, hardwood flooring is durable, but keeping your hardwood floors looking clean and modern requires more upkeep than tile. Home Depot recommends sweeping or dry mopping daily. Wet mopping should be done less frequently to minimize the risk of water damage. Remember, hardwood floors are softer and more porous than tile flooring, which means they can absorb water. This can eventually cause swelling or discoloration, so limit the wet mopping to every two weeks. Although mopping with water is referred to as wet mopping, the mop should actually be damp, not wet.

Just as with tile cleaning, it's important that you use a soft mop, like microfiber, and the proper cleaning product for your hardwood floors. In fact, it's probably more critical because it's easy to damage hardwood floors with the wrong cleaning product. Make sure the cleaner you buy specifies that it's safe to use on hardwood floors and that you know the type of hardwood floors you have. For example, is it finished or unfinished, and if it is finished, is it oil-based? What type of wood is it? Bona and Weiman hardwood floor cleaners are two of the many options available.

One final factor to keep in mind with hardwood floors is that polishing and refinishing may be required over time. Although this extra step doesn't involve cleaning, it may be necessary to keep your hardwood floors looking clean and new.