Laminate flooring has completely transformed millions of homes and, in addition to any aesthetic values, a major attraction of this type of flooring is that it is easy to fit by any competent DIY enthusiast and it is extremely hard-wearing with the potential to outlast almost any other form of flooring. In some cases, this has led to some complacency with householders believing that their new floor is completely indestructible and maintenance free. Unfortunately, laminate flooring can and does suffer from wear and despite its toughness, damage can occur. There are a few simple steps which can help to ensure that a laminate floor keeps its good looks and fully lives up to its reputation for longevity.
Everyone thinks that they know how to clean a floor but many of the traditional methods can be both ineffective and even potentially damaging so it should always be remembered that laminate flooring has a very hard upper surface but a more vulnerable sub-structure. Due to the very fact that these floors are made up of separate planks, water can penetrate beneath the surface and cause serious damage. Wet mopping of these floors must, therefore, be avoided. All that is required is first to remove any dirt, especially sharp particles, with a soft broom or vacuum cleaner with a suitable attachment.
Rotating beater bars should be avoided as, even though they may be set high enough not to physically make contact with the floor, any fluff or dirt sticking to the rotating brushes, as it inevitably does, can transform a vacuum cleaner into a power sander!
Cleaning with a damp (not wet) cloth or mop is then the best way to keep the floor looking good. Plain water is often adequate or a cleaner recommended by the makers of the floor. Normal household cleaners such as detergents and especially soaps should be avoided as these have a tendency to creep into the joints between the boards.
For particularly stubborn dirt, simple spot cleaning can be carried out and marks such as tar or paint can usually be removed by the careful use of acetone-based nail varnish remover which must then be thoroughly cleaned away. Chewing gum is best removed by firstly being chilled with ice to make it harden and then simply scraped away with a plastic scraper such as a credit card.
Prevention is always better than cure and in order to minimise any chances of wear or damage a few simple precautions are needed. Heavy furniture, especially with small metal points of contact, such as metal castors, can result in dents. The use of castor cups and pads under heavy furniture can prevent this. Many scratches are caused by grit particles being brought in on shoes.
Strategically placed door mats and rugs can minimise this risk. In time, laminate floors can fade as they age and, whilst this may not be a problem provided the fading is uniform, It can ruin the appearance of the floor if the fading is patchy. Regularly rearranging furniture and relocating rugs can avoid such problems and providing protection from bright sunshine will also help the floor to keep its new appearance for longer. Furniture should never be dragged across the floor and scourers or abrasive cleaners should never be used.
Even with the best care and attention, some damage can occur often leaving householders wondering whether an expensive replacement is necessary. Fortunately, some simple repairs can provide a very cost-effective remedy.
For surface scratches, furniture makers can be used to simply colour in the scratch. Choose the colour match you can but an exact match is not necessary for a small area. For holes and deep scratches, putty/wax filler sticks can be used which quite simply fill any indentations. These are available in a range of colours and it is even possible to mix them to get the colour absolutely correct. Once the filling is completed, the textured grain pattern can be added by carefully using a knife and or furniture markers.
For larger holes, a replacement piece of laminate flooring may be required. If the damage is close to the edge of the room, it may be possible to remove a damaged board by disassembling the floor in the reverse sequence as to which it was laid but in most cases, the damaged section will need to be cut out in-situ. This needs to be done very carefully and, as the boards usually fit together in a tongue and groove arrangement, the damaged section needs to be removed in several pieces. A circular saw, drill and chisel will be required. Refitting the new section necessitates the modification of the tongues and grooves to enable it to be dropped into place. It should be glued into place and then held with suitable weights until the glue has completely hardened.