After The Install – The Clean Up
To clean up after the install, and in fact throughout the life of the laminate flooring you should purchase a good flooring cleaner. Most people will just vacuum and wash with generic floor cleaners and I can’t tell them not too enough! If you use too much solution or water, you could end up destroying the floor you worked so hard to install!
When you visit your local hardware store you will no doubt be presented with vast amounts of flooring cleaners. Many of the cleaners are usually a multipurpose type of cleaner that claims to do it all, no matter what type of flooring you have. But I always direct people away from the generic cleaners and instead show them the brands that are specifically for laminate floors. And the reason I do this is because a lot of the generic cleaners will leave a slight film on top of the finish, which can be a real pain to get rid of. And you may also find that if anything happens to the flooring finish, when you call the manufacturer to assist, the first thing they will ask is, “What did you use to clean it with?” Using a bad cleaner can actually void your warranty!
Whenever you buy a new laminate flooring, it’s always a good idea to call the manufacturer to see what cleaners they recommend you use. Pergo and Bruce Flooring actually have their own branded laminate flooring cleaners, and as you can guess they work really well. Most of the laminate flooring manufacturers will suggest you use one of their own branded products for laminate floors. Zep is another brand of cleaners that offer a laminate only product, and I’ve heard good things about it, but have never personally used it. What can I say? I’m a big fan of the Pergo and Bruce cleaners! 😉
You will find that in most cases the laminate flooring cleaners are actually in a spray bottle, so that you can deliver a thin spray only and not saturate the floor, which would be bad. The best way to use the cleaners is to lightly spray over a 4’ x 4’ area, and then wipe over with a decent microfiber mop before moving on to the next section of your floor. You should never apply any type of laminate cleaner with a wet mop, as this can really do a job on your flooring over time. Just read the directions on the back of the cleaner, and you will be well on your way to making the floor look as good as new.
After The Install – Floor Protection
Yes, laminate flooring is extremely tough! But it’s by no means indestructible. And nobody should ever tell you it is. No matter what type of flooring you buy, if you hit it right, with the right thing, and at the right angle, it’s going to scratch. So here are a few things you can buy to make sure you are taking good precautions to prevent any damage to your floors.
Furniture Casters / Pads:
Relatively inexpensive furniture casters could save you many headaches, and your flooring a lot of scratches. These kinds of products simply stick or nail into the bottom feet of chairs, tables, refrigerators, ovens, and anything else that if moved could cause all kinds of problems. I always recommend casters to all my customers, because I’ve seen some awful problems caused to the finish on a laminate that could have been avoided for under a $10 cost! It’s just not worth it!
Silicone / Caulk:
When installing laminate in kitchens or in bathrooms where water is prevalent, you should always protect your flooring from any spills. And usually the best way to do this is to use some caulking sealant in the expansion gap around areas like the tub, kitchen sink, and dish washer. Some installers even use a thin bead all the way around the perimeter in those areas. The good thing about caulking is that it still stays flexible, even when dry. This allows your laminate flooring to move freely, and still be protected and sealed. But check with your manufacturer for recommendations of course.
Doctor Laminate – Dents & Scratches
The first one is always the worst! 😉
Another common question I get is how to take care of a scratch or dent in the floor. You didn’t mean to do it, but you came home and dropped something on that perfect laminate flooring, and it chips! I know, because I’ve done it myself. So here are a few things that could help you to make it look as good as new again.
Putty – Filler:
Pergo, Bruce, and many other laminate flooring companies offer color coordinated putty and fillers just for this reason. If you dent your floor or get a deep scratch, a colored putty could be the solution. Usually they come in very small tubes that you match to the color of the floor. Then you just snip off the end and apply to the damaged area, while smoothing over with your finger when you are done. Let it harden for a few hours without anyone walking on it, and you should be left with a hard finish that blends in with the rest of the floor.
## Most putty and fillers are a matte finish when dry. So if you have a gloss flooring finish, you may not get the look you wanted using a putty. ##
Colored Wax Pens:
You may have seen them already in the laminate flooring aisle right next to the floors? They look like regular crayons and feel like a wax of some sort. They are actually really similar to a putty that you apply by basically rubbing them over the scratch, which leaves a thin film that hopefully covers the damaged area. The pens are really only good for surface scratches and light dents, but I’ve still had some good results while using them. The only downside is the amount of colors available being only a light, medium, or dark selection. So you sometimes have to try to get one that’s as close to your flooring as possible.
Not my first choice, but many installers use them on light surface scratches and claim they work great! You will usually find them in a paint store or somewhere that sells stains and polyurethane products. The pens are around $5-$10 each. They work great on furniture and may work well on a laminate flooring away from the heavy traffic areas. But if the damage is right in the middle of the floor, you might want to try one of the previous options first.
Re-finishers / Polyurethane:
A couple of my installer friends use products like Rejuvenate, or Orange Glow to restore older laminate flooring finishes. And they really do look good when they are done. You have to understand though that these products will need to be applied every few months, depending on how much foot traffic your room gets. So it really is a temporary solution. However newer laminate re-finishers come with a polyurethane base that does a good job protecting your floors.
Of course I would only recommend re-finishers for older laminate floors where the finish has worn down. And also only when your warranty has long expired. But they are products that a home owner can do without any need for expensive tools, and with very little knowledge needed.