Laminate Floor Care
Wet mopping laminate floors should be avoided, as should the use of soap and abrasive cleaners. Instead, cleaning agents that have been specially formulated for laminate floors should be used.
Typically, they are of the ‘spray-on’ variety and use of them will entail spraying the cleaning solution on to a suitable soft cloth or dry mop which is then used to wipe the laminate surface clean. Both, the manufacturers own brands as well as generic types are available from flooring stores and supermarkets. Usually there will be no harm in using a quality generic brand for cleaning your floor but be sure to first check that your warranty will not be invalidated by doing so.
A tough coating is applied to all laminate floors and it is this that provides long lasting protection against scratching and gouging. However this doesn’t mean that it will be impossible to damage your floors surface! Steps should be taken to eliminate the possibility of damage causing objects coming in to contact with your floor in the first place. Dirt brought in on the underneath of footwear is one of the biggest causes of scratches and an effective way of keeping it at bay is to place wipe mats at your entrances, or even enforce a ‘no shoes’ rule if its in a household.
Through daily use, most furniture items, like seating and tables, are subjected to small movements that can cause damage to a laminate floors surface at the point of contact. In the worst of cases the protective coating can wear through to the underlying image and may be cause for an expensive, and often inconvenient, repair or replacement. The best and easiest way to protect your laminate floor from this problem is to use felt protector pads under the feet of furniture items. Fabric backed caster cups placed under items with casters will also help in this regard.
Furniture items should never be dragged across laminate flooring for this may cause deep gouging, which again is likely to be cause for premature repair or replacement. Always be sure to lift heavy items when repositioning them. If a piece of furniture is just too large and heavy to lift and the only option is to slide it it across the floor, then try placing some rolled up or folded blankets beneath it first.
If you expect your floor to be subjected to heavier than normal use you may want to use an area rug on the area that gets the most foot traffic. Doing so will slow down the rate of wear and help to avoid ‘lanes’ appearing on your floor, but be sure to choose a rug that is suitable for use with laminate flooring as there are some types that may cause discoloration. A rug will also serve you well when used on the sections of your floor that are more likely to come into contact with water, for example by a bathtub or sink.
Be sure to clean up liquid spills as soon as they occur—otherwise they may seep into joints causing them to become weakened or damaged. Delamination can also occur in severe cases.
Minor damage, such as small gouge marks or scratches, can be repaired by using touch up kits that consist of silicon filler and colored wax sticks, that are much like crayons.
More serious damage may necessitate the need to replace several planks or tiles. The difficulty of doing so may differ from one brand to the next. If you find yourself in need to carry out such a repair you would be well advised to seek professional advice beforehand.
If you live in a region that encounters extremes of low and high humidity throughout the year, you may benefit from installing a humidifier to maintain the humidity at a constant level. This will help prevent excessive expansion and contraction of the floor which, at its worst, may cause buckling or unattractive gaps between the planks or tiles.
As a final note of advice, it ought to be pointed out that steps to prolong the longevity of your laminate floor should begin at the installation stage by ensuring that the sub floor is suitable and adequately prepared. A laminate floor that has been poorly installed will be more likely to succumb to problems sooner than those that haven’t. Furthermore, it is also worth bearing mind that manufacturers will often stipulate that a cleaning schedule is followed in order for their warranties to remain valid.
As can be seen, spending a small amount of time looking after your floor will ensure that it continues to look its best and that it provides you with decades of carefree use without the need for costly maintenance or repairs.