Hardwood floors have timeless quality to them. In the past, such floors were hard to maintain. Newer finishes have simplified the process, but laminate floors, which imitate the look of hardwood, have become very popular. Laminate floors are less expensive, easier to install, easier- to-maintain than traditional hardwood floors. Since they are relatively harder to damage, they do not require a great deal of work for maintenance, but they are not foolproof. A few simple procedures will keep them in optimum condition. Begin the day the floor is laid. Read the warranty and care instructions while the floor is new. Keep the instructions available so you can refer to them if a problem should develop. Follow all post installation instructions so you get started right. Some brands may not allow mopping for 48 hours or have other after-installation instructions.
Loose dirt and grit are your laminate floor’s worst enemy. Do everything you can to keep the floors free. Routine cleaning requires sweeping or vacuuming and dusting with a clean dry dust mop to keep the dirt and grit from the surface. Before you damp-mop, vacuum floors to remove dust and particles that could scratch the surface. Use a damp mop rather than a wet mop because puddles might seep behind baseboards then under floors where th water could damage the laminate. Laminate flooring, like other types of smooth floors, can become slippery when wet. Allow time for the floor to dry after washing. Immediately wipe up wet areas from spills, foreign substances, or wet feet.
Do not use soap-based detergents or “mop and shine” products as they may leave a film on the floor surface. Do not apply wax or acrylic finishes to these floors.
A doormat could be your laminate floor’s best friend. Put one by any door that leads outdoors or into the garage. These could trap moisture, grit and dirt that might otherwise be carried into the house on feet and cause light scratching on the surface of the laminate floor. Choose a mat with natural fibers if possible. Be sure the mat does not contain dyes that might run or stain.
Sliding chairs and other furniture around on these floors often causes serious scratches. Put protective easy-glide buttons on the feet of furniture.
When you move a heavy appliance or piece of furniture across laminate floors, use a dolly to lift and move it smoothly. Be sure to clean dust off the floor before moving these items. A tiny pebble could get caught under a wheel or furniture foot that you are sliding across the floor.
Consider potential problems before they happen. For example, when putting up a ceiling fan, put down a thick carpet or towels underneath. Tools and other items could damage the floor if dropped.
For routine care, keep floors clean to prevent damage. Wipe up small spills with a cloth or sponge.
Use the stain-removal products recommended by the flooring manufacturer. Typically, they recommend acetone as a clean up for nail-polish spills and cigarette burns. They usually recommend mineral spirits for tar and grease.
Do not use abrasive cleaners, or scouring powder, steel wool, or any other cleaner that could scratch the floor. If you live in a new home and don’t have lawns or other protective surfaces, soil is easily tracked into the house, dirt can be tracked in and scratch the floor. Sweep or vacuum regularly.
From time to time, perhaps on a yearly basis you may need to do deeper cleaning. Check your manufacturer’s directions for instructions on this sort of maintenance since different products recommend different deep cleaning procedures.