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4. Care of your Laminate Flooring




Laminate flooring is resistant to scratching, staining, wear and tear, even moisture, but it is not indestructible. As with anything, proper care will lead to longevity, and prolonged beauty. Let’s look at some basic tips, and let’s get the bad out of the way first.

Cleaning things to definitely avoid

Laminate flooring not only has no need of polish or wax, but those chemicals can even dull the surface by leaving a film behind. They really aren’t made for each other. Any product with a name like “Mop & Gloss” is a home version of the same. Just leave those at the store. They take time, and do harm rather than good.

No sanding. No lacquer. These are not friends of the laminate floor as they are with other types of flooring.

Also do not seal your laminate flooring after a proper installation has been completed. If it is not meant to be glued together, then don’t do it, and if it is, then only do what the installation instructions direct.

That said, since your floor has not been (as it should not be) sealed, please do not use any kind of a steam cleaner on it. Forcing steam into a carpet will allow you to pull out a lot of stuff you want out of your floor. Forcing steam into the micro-gaps between your laminate planks merely sends water to a place you don’t want it to go, and keeps it there, where it will expand and warp your boards. And absolutely do not use a buffing machine on your laminate. One should generally never buff photographs with industrial devices.

Likewise, avoid abrasive cleaning materials, from obvious things like steel wool to easier to miss items like scouring powder. Even some liquid cleaners can be abrasive. With the inordinate and directed pressure that comes in the cleaning process, these can scratch or dull your floor’s surface.

Finally, heavy, pointy objects should not contact your laminate floor. These would include things like a dropped pair of quality scissors. Your AC rating may be high, but why find the limit by accidentally passing it?

Regular cleaning things to definitely do

Laminate floors come with warranties lasting 10, 25, 50 years, even lifetime for residential uses. They are designed to last for years with a minimum of maintenance effort, yet, while well protected against scuffing and scratching, mere sand and dirt, left to gather, can be a stealth enemy of the laminate floor. You see, in a high traffic area, especially an entrance, grit particles rolled or compressed and drug under a shoe can act like tiny little chisels, not making deep gouges, but creating micro-scratches in the surface, which will appear as a gradual dulling. We want to prevent dirt buildup, and the best ways to do this are to regularly:

Vacuum, using a machine without a beater bar. Use a vacuum cleaner with either a soft brush, or with a special wood flooring accessory. This may be done daily without hurting your floor.

Dust mop with either an actual dust mop, or just using a dry, clean cloth.

Remove footprints and dried up, tracked in mud with nothing more than a moist cloth. Soak it, wring it out, and hit your dirty spot. It’s that simple.

As needed cleaning activities

Laminate floors are moisture resistant, but not waterproof. This means that they can actually handle even a pretty big spill, but only for a while. You will want to wipe up any spills as soon as you can get to them. Don’t let them sit for too long, or the liquid may eventually make its way into the gaps between your planks. Pay special attention to a pets’ food and water area, as basic liquid lapping will splatter into little pockets of sitting water. That’s an easy one to miss.

You can also damp mop occasionally. The word “damp” is important, though. Don’t soak the mop and then spread the liquid around. It’s also good practice to use a quality mop. Microfiber cloth is particularly good for this. Rinse and wring out your mop frequently. Follow the guidelines in your instructions to determine what kind of cleaning chemical you may use, if any is needed. Most will need to be at least soap free.

 
If something gets stuck to the floor, like gum or dripped candle wax, do not panic. It’s surprisingly easy to remove these. Use an ice cube to freeze, or at least harden the offending substance, and then just go under it with something plastic, a thin scraper, a credit card, something not likely to scratch the floor. The dropped former goo should pop right off, then you can wipe under it with a damp towel.

If someone draws a detailed map on your floor with a sharpie, again, do not panic. In many cases, even sharpie ink will come up with application of acetone wiped around with a soft cloth.

Good Protection

Mats

A good welcome mat at the entrance can help keep any tracked in environmental detritus localized to the front door area. The mat can capture the dirt and grime from shoes. You might even extend the protection with a long area mat. Just make sure your mats are colorfast (their colors won’t bleed down onto the floor beneath) and not scratchy underneath.

Furniture Protectors

These are not only essential when moving furniture, but can be beneficial when furniture is just sitting. They slip under the feet of furniture, spreading out the pressure, and usually having a low friction underside, so moving is actually easier. If any furniture is on caster wheels, make sure the wheels have no seams. Those can generate intense pressure, as all the weight of the furniture presses via that small seam. And if you need to use a two-wheeler, a dolly, to move heavy things around, just lay down a temporary sheet of clean, smooth plywood, or some other smooth material to handle the wheels and the weight.

Maintenance

One advantage we lose with glueless flooring is that in low humidity, sometimes gaps may form at the joints of some laminates. To keep dirt from collecting there, you will want to tap your planks back together. The best way to do this is to remove the trim at your floor’s border, and use a pry bar on the edge of the outer plank, tapping it in with a hammer. Some minor scratches can be fixed with a touch up stick, if your manufacturer carries them, or laminate flooring repair paste, which you should be able to find in a flooring store.
 
Spots can be removed using a light colored cloth and an appropriate solution. We recommend

Acetone or nail polish remover for:

     Sharpie (or other permanent marker), oil, paint, rubber heel scuffs, asphalt and tar.

A (ph) neutral cleaner and warm water for:

     Fruit juice, soft drinks, beer, wine, blood and spaghetti sauce.

With some damage you will need to replace a plank to correct it. If you installed the flooring yourself, then it’s essentially pretty easy. You just do what you did in reverse, removing the trim nearest the offending plank, and lifting out boards until you get to it. Replace it with one of the extra boards you saved (be sure to select a board whose image is not duplicated by a close board), and then put everything back. If you did not install the floor, or this process sounds daunting, then you should call your trusted installer.

 

 

– – – –
David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+

 
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