Laminate flooring has come a long way and today is the ideal choice for many homeowners due to its ability to mimic wood, tile as well as stone. It’s water and scratch resistant, durable and, not to mention, it doesn’t expand or contract like hardwood floors.
What is Laminate for Floors and Benefits of Using It
Comparing vinyl plank vs laminate flooring or tile, laminate floors may get damaged from long term exposure to moisture and standing water, hence they’re not ideal for bathrooms, kitchens or basements. If you’re to install laminate in areas like the kitchen, you need to be on alert and ensure that you wipe spills immediately when they occur.
Harsh cleaning products also end up ruining the floor in the long run but once installed, maintenance and cleaning are very easy. Laminate planks are easy to cut, hence you can do the installation by yourself saving a few dollars in the process.
Water and Scratch Resistant
The fact that laminate is water and scratch resistant means that it’s ideal for homes with little kids and pets. Regular cleaning and light maintenance will keep your floor looking good and shiny for years to come.
Types of Laminate Flooring
There are so many different types of laminate floors that you can choose from, but what they all have in common is that they require to be installed over an underlayment.
High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
High-pressure laminate is used for decorative surfaces and is a descendant of plastic laminate. It’s one of the most durable decorative surface materials that holds well against chemicals, wear as well as fire.
HPL is normally produced through the saturation of different layers of kraft paper with resin where a layer of décor paper is placed on top of the kraft paper during production.
They’re then fused together under pressure and heat and due to the thermoset nature of melamine resin and phenolic, the process transforms the resin into a rigid plastic laminated sheet. Due to its durability, HPL is ideal for horizontal surfaces, which include commercial floorings, desktops, and countertops.
Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL)
This is the most common type of laminate that you can find on the market today. It’s made when backing layers, balancing layers, decorative and wear layers and high-density fiberboard are pressed together.
The pressure is normally between 300 to 500 pounds per square inch resulting in strong and durable pieces that can stand heavy traffic.
Types of Laminate Finishes
Laminate surface texture is created during the manufacturing process and results in different kinds of finishes that you can choose from when you’re doing the floor.
Embossed Laminate Finish
Some laminate is found in a textured finish. Embossing is achieved during the heating process when a metal plate with a pattern is pressed into the material resulting in concave and convex ridges on the laminate.
This is what gives embossed laminate the look and feel of actual wood.
Glossy Laminate Finish
Gloss laminate finishing makes the floor even more stunning as it has deeper, cleaner and crispier colors and lines. This glossy finish grabs attention and makes the hardwood look seem more real.
Glossy laminate tends to be more durable and can repel dirt, dust and fingerprints. The good thing about it is that it’s easy to maintain and clean once it’s exposed to dirt.
One thing you need to keep in mind though regarding glossy laminate is that due to the reflective finish, imperfections like scratches and dents are easy to spot.
High gloss laminate has a mirror-like finish and as such, it’s shiny and sleek. Its functionality, as well as performance, are way better than that of normal gloss laminate.
High gloss laminate can make the home look very stylish depending on the color you choose. This kind of laminate is ideal for use in kitchens, wardrobes and closets.
Tools Needed to Clean Laminate Floors
Laminate floors are the closest you can get to hardwood flooring and the only problem is that they can’t be refinished and repair is very difficult. If laminate planks get damaged, the only thing you can do is replace them, unlike hardwood floors that can be refinished or repaired.
As such, for your own good and to maintain the look of your floor, you need to invest in keeping the floor clean and free of moisture and grit that may cause damage and it all starts in getting the right cleaning tools.
The first step in maintaining the shiny look of your floor is to get one of the best vacuums for laminate flooring. The vacuum is for picking grit and dust that get dragged from outside and can end up scratching your laminate floor, making it lose its shiny look.
By using a vacuum instead of a broom, you’re able to trap any allergens since a broom just ends up lifting them in the air to resettle later. You might want to look at shark vacuums tested for laminate floors, in particular, to ensure that your floor maintains its look and durability for years.
If you have a laminate floor, to maintain its look, you need to get the finest microfiber mops or a durable floor sweeper. Microfiber mops look like your regular string mops only instead of the cotton strings they have microfiber strips that usually come off the mop head.
Microfiber mops are highly absorbent, which is important to wipe any spills immediately as they occur since long term exposure to moisture ends up running laminate flooring. They’re also easy to care for and can be machine washed.
The main reason to use a microfiber mop is that, unlike other mops, they don’t scratch the floor when you’re cleaning. If you don’t have a microfiber mop, avoid using a perfect steam mop as it’ll ruin your floor.
DIY Laminate Floor Cleaning Method
Like mentioned earlier, harsh cleaning products will damage your laminate floor in the long run. A mixture of vinegar and water will clean your laminate floor perfectly.
You can make it by mixing equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. When cleaning, all you need is to spray a little on the floor and then use a microfiber mop.
If a smell of vinegar is too strong, you can add a few drops of essential oil or a dishwashing detergent that smells nice. The only disadvantage with essential oils is that they don’t leave your floor shining as vinegar and water do.
This DIY cleaning solution isn’t only cheap, but it’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t have chemicals that can ruin your laminate floor.
How to Clean Laminate Floors (Without Streaking)
Laminate floors may resemble hardwood floors, but cleaning the floor is very different from how you would clean a hardwood floor. Laminate is susceptible to damage if exposed to water and moisture for a long time, which is why it needs special attention.
Step 1 – Sweep dust and debris
Before you even begin cleaning, ensure that the floor is free of dirt and grit. While the laminate floor is scratch resistant, excess debris, dirt and hair may lead to scratches if they build up over time and the only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to sweep the floor regularly.
When sweeping, avoid using a dry dust mop as this can lead to scratches, but instead use a vacuum with a soft brush. Avoid using your standard floor brush as the bristles could damage the floor surface.
When sweeping, ensure that you do it in the direction the tiles are laid as this allows you to pick even the debris that has accumulated between the groves.
Step 2 – Clean spills immediately as they occur
Laminate can be damaged by long term exposure to standing water. Immediately when a spill occurs, ensure that it’s wiped before the water seeps into the tiles.
You can use a cloth, sponge or a microfiber mop to do that. Before cleaning dampen the cloth so that it can absorb all the water and then dry the area with a soft cloth.
Step 3 – Limit the water
When cleaning laminate floors, you might be tempted to use a lot of water so that you can clean thoroughly, but this isn’t recommended. Water is the number one enemy to laminate floors as it seeps into the planks causing them to warp. Instead, a slightly damp mop will do.
Step 4 – Avoid strong cleaning products
Normal floor cleaning products will leave streaks and residue and in the long run, will damage the protective sealant of your floor.
If you’re to use any laminate cleaners, apply just a small amount on the mop rather than on the floor directly. Waxing and polishing work on hardwood floors, but they’ll ruin your laminate floor.
Step 5 – Use a mild detergent or vinegar
Stick to cleaning products that are labeled as safe for laminate floors. Also, vinegar mixed with water will do a good job of cleaning your floor in the end without affecting the shine.
Step 6 – Use a mop for a deep cleaning
Compared to other floor options like hardwood, tile and vinyl plank, laminate isn’t as strong and it’s easily damaged by things like buffers, polishers and steam cleaners.
If the floor is dirty, use a mop, most specifically a microfiber one that won’t leave scratches on your precious floor.
How to Maintain and Protect Your Laminate Flooring
When it comes to laminate flooring, you need to take special care of your floor to make sure that it lasts you for years. Here are ways you can protect and maintain your laminate floor:
Step 1 – Avoid waxing and polishing
Waxing and polishing are okay on a hardwood floor, but with laminate, you’ll only be damaging your floor and using any soap based product will make it lose its shine.
Step 2 – Dust and vacuum once a week
A laminate floor is the easiest to maintain and not to mention cheap to install, which is why most homeowners prefer it. It’s also scratch resistant. However, long term buildup of debris and dust can end up causing scratches to develop, especially if there’s heavy traffic.
To ensure that this doesn’ happen, you need to make sure to use a vacuum or a premium floor sweeper for laminate floors a few times a week and to avoid using traditional brushes as the bristles can end up causing scratches.
Step 3 – Avoid using strong cleaning products
Unless the cleaning product has been labeled as safe for laminate floors, avoid it. Strong cleaning products end up leaving streaks and residue and, in the end, destroy the protective sealant of your floor, making it easier for water to seep through.
Tips on Removing Hard Stains from Laminate Floors
Laminate floors are ideal for homes with kids and pets. When you have one of those, staining is inevitable. When stains occur, you need to ensure that you know how to remove them.
Use a window cleaner for blood stains and wipe the floor with a damp cloth. After mopping, dry the floor with a dry cloth.
Candle wax stain
Ensure that the wax has hardened and then crap it off with a plastic knife.
Use a bag of ice to free the gum glob and then use a plastic knife to scrap it off.
Tar and grease stains
Use mineral spirits and a cloth to remove grease stains.
Heel scuff marks
Remove heel and shoe scuff marks with a pencil eraser.
Crayon, wine, soda and ink stains
Apply mineral spirits to a damp microfiber cloth. For stubborn ink stain, add a little ink remover to the cloth.
Nail and shoe polish
Remove the stain with a little nail polish remover for nail polish stains or some rubbing alcohol for shoe polish stains.
Do’s and Don’ts While Cleaning and Maintaining Laminate Floors
- Use a microfiber mop to clean if you don’t want scratches to develop on your floor.
- Use a vacuum to remove debris and dust that may cause your floor to scratch when stepped on.
- Wipe spills immediately when they occur as long term exposure to moisture and standing water will cause your laminate floor to warp.
- Polish or wax your laminate floor as this will only lead to damage in the long run.
- Use strong cleaning products as they leave streaks and residues and destroy the shiny look on the laminate floor.
Can I use vinegar in water to clean my floor using a sponge mop?
Yes, you can use vinegar mixed with water to clean your laminate floor with a sponge mop. The goal is to ensure that whatever you use doesn’t leave scratches on the floor.
Can a steam mop be used on laminate floors?
Laminate isn’t as strong as other floor options like vinyl plank or tile and is easily damaged by steam cleaners.
How do you clean wood laminate floors?
Cleaning your wood laminate floor involves using the right cleaning products and occasional mopping. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be on the safe side or consult a professional.
How do you clean a laminate floor after plastering?
Sweep the floor first, use a broad plastic scraper to remove the plaster and then sweep again. Use a damp mop to remove embedded dust as well as smears.
The laminate floor is cheap to install, easy to maintain and mimics the look of hardwood floor. Most homeowners prefer it due to this.
However, you need to ensure that you’re taking care of your floor to prolong its life. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean and maintain the look of your floor.
Photos from: frank11 / depositphotos.com, alexraths / depositphotos.com, olenka-2008 / depositphotos.com and Koldunov / depositphotos.com.