How to Maintain Laminate

Residential Laminate Maintenance

 

General Instructions

  • Maintenance Required.  Growing technology has enhanced the durability of flooring products immensely. Yet, our fast-paced world still renders a lot of wear on our floors from spills to the family pet or foot traffic. Regular maintenance and preventative measures can significantly prolong the new look of your important investment.
  • Supremacy of Manufacturer.  The following information is the accumulation of many years of experience, the guidelines of regulatory flooring agencies, and the instructions provided by the leading manufacturers of flooring products. The manufacturer of your flooring product may have unique guidelines that should be given seniority over the general advice given by Wolfe Flooring.
  • Documents and Samples.  Retain the sales receipt and any product description from the purchase of the goods. If possible, document the manufacturer’s name and the manufacturer’s full product description, including color and type of finish. Furthermore, retain a sample of the laminate for comparisons. For insurance purposes, it is prudent to safely store a photograph of your new product.
  • Not Initial Care.  The following guidelines are for regular maintenance, not initial care. Most likely, the initial care that your flooring needs is different than regular maintenance. Generally, new flooring products need about 12 to 72 hours after the installation before they are ready for furniture, regular foot traffic, etc. while the adhesive cures. Glueless click-together products are ready for immediate use.
  • Generic Intent.  These instructions are for normal laminate flooring in common environments. Techniques, products, etc. change and some situations are very unique; thus, Wolfe Flooring assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or outcomes. These instructions may not apply to special situations. You’re welcome to call us for a specific professional address of your situation. Please exercise general caution implementing any of the following guidelines.
  • Education.  Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Print these instructions as needed.
  • Extra Supply & Storing.  Retain extra laminate for the possibility of future repairs. Keep your extra materials (a.k.a., attic stock) in a dry place that stays between 60°F and 80°F. Extreme heat (as in attic) and humidity (as in a moist basement) can damage laminate. Additionally, the more stable the temperature, the better. Store your laminate laying on a flat surface. Do not stack more than eight boxes high. Align the boxes so that the material is fully supported. Laminate will bend over time if unsupported.
  • Entrances.  Keep the outside entrance areas (e.g., sidewalk, porches, driveway) free of sand and debris. Non-staining walk-off mats (avoid rubber mats) and budget-friendly entry rugs are strongly recommended at your home’s entryways (both inside and outside) to catch most of the soiling. Use mats at the entrances to a kitchen. The mass majority of the soil and grit that will fall into the room will do so in the first six feet of the entrances. Transitional mats should be cleaned recurrently; otherwise, the mats will accelerate the soiling.  Read a blog article on an overall strategy.
  • Rugs and Underlayments.  Area rugs are very helpful in places of high activity (e.g., in front of the kitchen sink) and at pivot-points (e.g., a hallway intersection) to avoid the apparent traffic patterns. Never allow moisture to become trapped under your rug. Use non-slip underlayments under rugs to prevent possible dye transfer and to prevent the rug from sliding or “walking.” Small rugs are especially prone to slip on smooth laminate. The grip that is provided by a non-slip underlayment can prevent a nasty fall. Underlayment also benefits by absorbing a portion of the impact of each footstep, which means that underlayment helps the rug experience less crushing.
  • Sweep or Vacuum.  Sweep or dust-mop your residential laminate flooring once per day or every few days. You can also use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar. Sand and grit are among the greatest enemies against your laminate's sheen and will act as abrasives to scratch and dull the finish.
  • Mop.  Never wet-mop your lamanate floor with water or other general cleaners. Exposure to too much moisture can ruin your investment by causing the laminate to delaminate, discolor, or swell. Damp-mop your laminate floor (using water) in the smallest area possible and using the least amount of moisture possible if sweeping or dust-mopping is insufficient. Sweep the dry particulate before mopping. Your manufacturer likely recommends a cleaning agent bearing their label. Be very careful when using any over-the-counter laminate cleaner. Some products will void your warranty. Cleaners based upon or including soaps, detergents, ammonia, wax, or oils can cause damage to the finish. Do not use varnish, acrylic- or urethane-based polishes, or shine enhancers. Test the product in an inconspicuous area.
  • Keep Dry.  Keep your laminate dry. Moisture is also among the great enemies against laminate. Wet laminate presents the risk for (1) slipping, (2) mold or mildew, (3) discoloration, (4) delamination, and (5) swelling. Be especially mindful of walk-off moisture or drips when weather conditions outside are wet or snowy. For safety, immediately dry-mop or use towels to wipe the floor dry. Fans will accelerate drying. Warm air is more effective than cold air to dry up moisture.
  • Mechanical Cleaning.  Neither scrubbing your laminate with a rotary machine nor cleaning with a steam-mop are recommended.
  • Soiling, Stains, Spills, and More.  See our Laminate Spot Cleaning Guidelines.
  • Repairs.  Tend to repairs immediately to limit exposure and to keep repair expenses as low as possible. Place a caution sign on or near a damaged area if a tripping hazard develops. Place painters’ blue tape or a mat over a transition or flooring that is loose. Laminate with moisture damage, a burn, a gouge, a cut, or unappealing scratches needs to be repaired by piece replacement. A single piece can be replaced using a tool like UniFix™ by Quick•Step® without uninstalling the surrounding planks if your laminate was properly installed with an expansion gap around the room's perimeter.
  • Spiked Heels.  Walking on residential laminate with stiletto or spiked heels, especially those with worn spiked heal caps, will cause excessive wear which is often not covered under warranties.  According to Mohawk, a "high heel can concentrate as much as 2,000 pounds per square inch on the floor" when the heel's diameter is about 3/8" at the point of contact.
  • Furniture Placement.  Relocate furniture occasionally to distribute traffic patterns.
  • Furniture Legs.  Laminate can tolerate a limited amount of pressure per square inch (PSI). Prevent indentations due to heavy weight concentrated upon the legs of furniture by using casters with a flat undersurface made of glass, wood, or hard plastic. A caster should be no less than 3 inches in diameter, depending upon the weight of the object. A wide caster will disperse the weight of the furniture better than a narrow caster. Avoid heavy furniture with ball-type casters which concentrate the PSI. Use felt protectors on the bottom of furniture that is moved frequently. Change your furniture pads periodically. Hard plastic or metal tabs on the bottom of furniture can scratch laminate.
  • Chair Mats.  Chair pads are required under desk chairs (including those with roller casters) to preserve appearance and prevent the accumulation of scratches. Laminate with a smooth surface (unlike a faux hand-scraped laminate) needs a mat of 110 mils (0.11″) thickness. Laminate with an irregular surface needs a mat of 170 mil (0.17″) thickness. Purchase a mat with a felt or smooth bottom (i.e., no cleats). Add a thin underlayment under the chair mat if the mat will not remain stationary, if the mat is too noisy, or the laminate has an irregular texture. Do not permit sand to remain under a mat.
  • Moving Furniture and Heavy Equipment.  Sliding or dragging furniture or equipment over your laminate may scratch or cut the surface. This advice is especially important if your laminate has an irregular surface or has beveled edges. Rolling a heavy load (i.e., a load that exceeds the PSI weight limit) over your laminate may leave indentations or crush pieces. Appliances and pianos present risks. At a minimum, use 1/4-inch hardboard runways.  See our expanded guide, How to Protect Flooring, to learn more.  The Plywood and Masonite section and the Moving Tools section are most applicable.
  • General Renovations, Painting, or Major Events.  If you will be renovating, painting, moving in or out, etc., then read our guide, How to Protect Flooring.
  • Pets.  As with humans, pets can track in dirt, mud, etc., so attempt to keep your pet's paws clean. Keep your pet's nails trimmed so that its nails do not scratch the surface of your laminate. Finally, address urine and other accidents as quickly as possible. Laminate is highly vulnerable to any form of moisture. Greater vulnerability is between pieces of laminate. First, clean with a dry towel, mop, or sponge. Mist the laminate with a disinfectant or wipe with a towel dampened by a disinfectant. (Try to prevent a disinfectant from seeping into the joints because some disinfectants can create problems for adhesive and delamination.) Remove the cleaning agent's residue using cold water. Wipe your floor dry once more.
  • Plants.  Do not set a potted plant directly on your laminate flooring. Excess moisture migrating from the plant may ruin the floor. Place a waterproof tray underneath. Over time, your floor may oxidize from light at a different rate than exposed flooring, as would be caused by a rug covering your floor.
  • Temperature.  A steady temperature is best for all flooring products. Maintain temperatures between 65°F and 85°F to avoid substantial contraction or expansion. Laminate possesses a relatively narrow range of tolerance. Cold temperatures make laminate contract; hot temperatures make laminate expand. Extreme fluctuations can make laminate flooring bow upward from the substrate.
  • Heat.  Avoid placing an appliance directly on your flooring that produces high levels of heat. Refrigerators and ovens are known to produce heat that can permanently damage your flooring. Avoid direct exposure to heat from radiators, hot-air registers, and other heating devices. If you have a radiant floor heating system, be cautious to not exceed the limit (which is commonly at 85°F to 90°F) established by your manufacturer. Excessive heat can cause laminate to discolor or expand.
  • Sunlight.  Deflect direct sunlight away from laminate to prevent fading, discoloration, or thermal expansion.
  • HVAC.  Change the filters in your air conditioning system regularly to minimize pollen and other airborne particulate.