Laminate flooring might look as good as wood flooring, but cleaning it is very different! Laminate floors can’t be refinished like a traditional wood floor, so that means pricey replacements. Not to mention the added cost of labor and time.
So, whether it’s a new floor you recently had installed or an old one you are trying to bring back to its former glory, read on to learn how to properly clean your laminate!
Laminate is a relatively new development in the world of home flooring. Arriving in 1984, Perstorp AB holdings developed the flooring originally called Pergo. The company took the style that was originally found on countertops and adapted it to be used on floors.
Largely popular first in Europe, Pergo floors came stateside in 1994. Met with heavy fanfare, people were thrilled to have a flooring option that looked like hardwood but was half the cost (and not having to deal with pesky wood polishes). Back then, though, the photo technology was not as realistic as it is today and the floors were more plastic-looking.
Nevertheless, the floors continued to be popular through the early aughts and have continued to rise in popularity due to the advances in photo technologies making the laminate more realistic and of better quality.
Let My Love Open The Floor
Laminate is a great flooring choice for homes and apartments. They are durable and, unlike hardwood floors, they won’t break the bank! While laminate floor may mimic the look and feel of hardwood, it is actually quite different.
Laminate flooring uses several layers pressed together to create a wood look. The process uses heat and pressure to fuse layers together and create one solid plank of flooring. The design of the wood is actually a picture layer that is accented by a matching topcoat to mimic the look and feel of a real hardwood floor.
The bottom layer is made up of a melamine backer. This aids in moisture resistance and gives structure to the flooring. The top layer matches the weight of the bottom to create a firm piece of flooring. Paper was a standard backer for years before melamine took over due to its durability. Melamine adds support and strength that is not found in paper backings.
The core layer is the largest part of laminate flooring. It uses high-density fiberboard composed of compressed wood particles, resins, polymers, and plastics. These offer higher water resistance and help acclimate the wood to temperatures and humidity.
High levels of resin help prevent gaps and reduce noise when walking on the floor: crucial for those who like to sneak up on their guests and housemates! Fiberboard in the core layer also helps to stabilize the laminate and increases impact resistance. The resin content in laminate floors gives it an edge over hardwood, which is famously susceptible to changes in weather and humidity.
Another plus of laminate flooring is that it is often constructed with recycled materials. Essentially, laminate wood flooring is wood particles processed into smaller particles and held together with glue.
Let’s Get Visual
The visual layer of the flooring is the decorative layer you see when you look at your floor. This layer is created using a high res 3D photo of actual wood. There are multiple pictures of a variety of grains and patterns to make the floor match the way actual hardwood looks. The images are then glued to the core layer of the floor.
This layer has advanced in recent years due to advances in photo technology that has made laminate create a more realistic look that mimics genuine hardwood.
Topcoat of the Mornin’ to Ye
The topcoat is a translucent, clear finish that protects the other layers and enhances durability. Usually melamine urethane-based, this layer absorbs damage from UV rays, abrasions, stains, and general wear and tear (especially from pets – Looking at you, Fido.)
Laminate Than Never
Cleaning your laminate floor is a must if you want to keep it looking good as new and avoid costly replacement. Luckily, cleaning laminate is super easy to do and won’t take much time at all. Regular floor cleaning will add life to your current laminate and keep them looking good for years to come.
Vacuum or sweep your floors in the direction that it was laid to pick up any dirt that may be caught in between the pieces of the floor. A vacuum will help keep dust and dirt out of hard-to-reach areas like corners and under furniture.
If your vacuum came with a wood floor attachment, such as a brush or microfiber pad, attach it to wipe up any dust or particle residue you might miss with a broom or just the vacuum alone.
Dirt left on your laminate floor can scratch and damage your floor and cause it to lose its shine, so make sure to vacuum or sweep often, even if you don’t plan on doing a full cleaning.
Microfiber mops are the best option for laminate floor maintenance. Regular dry mopping (daily, if possible) will help prevent scratches and surface damage. A wide microfiber broom head will collect most of the dirt and dust that finds its way to your floor. The great part about microfiber mop heads is that they are reusable and can be washed as many times as you need.
By mopping with microfiber, you reduce the risk of dirt being ground into the flooring and scuffing the shine since it is so good at grabbing loose debris. This is especially helpful in the high-traffic areas of your house, like entrances in and out.
Dry mopping is also important to do before a deep clean because those dirt particles you may have missed can be abrasive and act as an almost sandpaper-like layer between your clean cloth and flooring.
Not To Dampen the Mood…
But damp-mopping a laminate floor is crucial! The reason we say “damp mop” is because we want to prevent water damage to the flooring. Water can soak into the laminate, causing peeling and separation, so don’t soak and don’t leave puddles when cleaning. It is best to use laminate floor cleaner specifically, but if you want to go the DIY route, you can make a homemade cleaning solution.
There are a few options you can consider if you go DIY:
– One part rubbing alcohol and three parts water plus a squirt of dish soap
– A teaspoon of dish cleaner in a gallon of hot water
– A teaspoon of baby shampoo in a gallon of hot water
– Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Lemon for scent.
Whatever you choose, remember to use a lightly damped cloth or microfiber cloth and, after you scrub the floor, follow up with a dry cloth to pick up any leftover water. If you use a water mixture, make sure you have a clean bucket and a dirty bucket in order to prevent streaking.
Never use wax, acrylic products, bleach, or any oil-based cleaner on your laminate flooring. All of these will damage the floor’s finish.
To Be or Spot To Be
For spot treating, have a microfiber towel handy. Like all surfaces, it is best to spot treat as soon as a spill happens unless you are living on the dance floor of the local bar! Laminate doesn’t stain easily, but if something does spill, clean it fast with your homemade cleaner or a laminate stain remover.
Don’t use any sort of abrasive steel wool or sponge, and if you need to scrape, do so carefully and take your time. A pencil eraser is a great way to remove scuffs. Rubbing alcohol is great for ink or marker and a variety of other stains (like lipstick!).
Protect Like a PRO
There are lots of things you can do to protect your laminate from damage. Always use glides or pads on the bottom of your furniture. There’s no quicker way to ruin your floor than sliding your chair out over and over. Speaking of sliding, don’t slide anything heavy over the flooring. Try to lift furniture when you move it or place something beneath it to avoid scratches.
Floor protectors are your friend. Only use a laminate floor-approved vinyl rug underlay for area rugs. These keep the rug from sticking to or scratching the floor and keep the rug in place. Use floor protectors like entry mats at any doorway that leads outside to keep dirt and other outside materials from being tracked in. If you can, take off shoes and heels when you come in (put them in shoe organizers or on floor mats) to prevent marks on the flooring.
If you follow all these steps for cleaning and preventing damage, your floor should stay as beautiful as the day it was installed!
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