Although exotic hardwood floors are the ultimate ‘want’ on anyone’s wooden flooring wish list they can be expensive, especially if you have to replace an existing floor to achieve the perfect look. However, there are other options out there. Laminate flooring has shot up in popularity over the last few years, not least because it’s a cheaper alternative to a ‘real’ wooden floor. It is also DIY-friendly: almost anyone can install a laminate floor relatively easily, although if you’re a complete newbie it’s still wise to call on the experts to do it for you, rather than making some costly mistakes!
But laminate flooring is a very different animal to hardwood flooring, and as such there are some specific techniques in making sure your flooring looks as good as possible for as long as possible. So here are our five top tips on how to look after your laminate floor.
Laminate flooring does tend to be softer than hardwood, so regular brushing should be done gently and with a soft brush. Hard brooms can easily scratch the surface, leaving gouges that won’t just ‘buff out’. The best choice is a soft plastic broom or even a dry string mop.
Again, because of the softer nature of laminate flooring, moving furniture around can be a bit of a hazard that could lead to scratching or marking the surface. A neat trick to minimise the possibility of scratching your delicate laminate flooring is to put felt pads on the feet of chairs and tables. These are commonly available at most DIY shops and can be trimmed so that they fit exactly without spoiling the line of your furniture. However, do be aware that they make it easier for your furniture to slide over wooden flooring without marking it, so bear that in mind if you’re leaning against the table!
Laminate flooring needs to stay dry, otherwise it can mark, stain or even warp very easily. The surface of laminate flooring will resist most spillages, as long as you mop them up quickly. But if you allow liquid to sit on the surface of the floor for any length of time then it can eventually seep into the cracks, which can lead to warping as the moisture is absorbed into the wood, or the adhesive becoming contaminated and the boards working loose. Try to keep your floor as dry as you can, and wipe up even small spills as quickly as possible.
We’ve established that, although a cheaper alternative to hardwood, laminate flooring does have a disadvantage in that it is quite a delicate form of flooring that marks very easily. So avoid abrasive or harsh cleaners when doing your weekly wash-down. Soapy water is not a good product to use, for two very good reasons: one, the water tends to ‘pool’ and can leave wet areas that could damage the wood (see #3 above!) and two, soap can leave a chalky residue that will eventually mark the wood and leave your floor looking less than pristine. Talk to your wood flooring experts and they will be able to advise you on special laminate floor cleaning products that are easy to use and won’t damage your floor.
Not only can they add a flourish to your interior design, but rugs can also act as a preventative barrier against damage to laminate flooring in high traffic areas such as around doorways, hallways and stairwells. However, ensure that your rugs have rubber backs to prevent them from becoming a slipping hazard, and check that the rubber used won’t mark the surface of the laminate flooring either.