Laminate flooring allows you to create a customized look that often mimics tile, stone and hardwood for a fraction of the price of those materials. All types of laminate flooring have similar maintenance and care needs no matter what they look like. This material is resilient and reliable, but you can damage it if you’re not careful. If you’re wondering how to protect laminate flooring, you have come to the right place. Follow the guidelines for protecting laminate flooring to get the most from this versatile material.
Install it Properly
The best tip for how to protect laminate flooring is to install it correctly. Many types of laminate are convenient for advanced DIY-ers to install themselves. But you need to make sure that you’re using the right type of moisture barrier and technique. If you don’t have the skills, hire a professional. Investing in the installation can save you money and headaches down the road.
Protect Your Laminate Flooring From Furniture
Chairs might be laminate flooring’s worst enemy. Every time you drag a chair across a laminate floor, it creates the potential for damage. Protect the surface by attaching felt pads to the feet of any movable furniture. If you have furniture with casters, replace the firm wheels with soft rubber ones. Lift heavy furniture if you have to move it across the floor.
Use Rugs Intentionally
Areas that encounter heavy traffic can wear out before other parts of the floor. Protect them with strategically placed rugs. Prime spots for throw rugs or welcome mats include the following:
- In front of sinks
- Beneath desks
- Under dining tables
A high-quality, non-slip rug pad will prevent falls. Natural rubber and felt pads are safe for laminate floors. Avoid cheap rug pads because they may be made with plastics that damage and discolor the flooring. If you don’t use rug pads at all, you run the risk of scratching the laminate by grinding trapped dirt particles into it every time you step on the rug.
Instead of a rug, you could use a waterproof floor cover. These are excellent options for kitchens, playrooms, laundry rooms and pet areas.
Keep the Floor Clean
Cleaning properly not only improves appearances but also serves an important role in protecting laminate flooring. As people and pets walk across the floor, they deposit particles of dirt, food and dust. Although these grains are tiny, they are abrasive. As you track them across and grind them into the flooring, they create scratches. Repetitively abrading the surface erodes the wear layer and shortens the lifespan of the flooring.
Cleaning the floors also reduces static. While static buildup won’t damage your floors, it is annoying. Keeping the surface free of dust reduces the static electricity that makes you get shocked every time you touch someone in your home.
You should never use an oil-based product to clean your laminate floors. It can damage the material and make the floors slick. Also avoid using steam mops, which introduce moisture and cause buckling.
Use the Right Vacuum
Don’t use a carpet that’s designed for carpet on laminate. Cleaning equipment with hard edges or rigid wheels can scuff the flooring. Use a vacuum head that is protected with felt or another soft material. Avoid using vacuums with rotary brush heads. Better yet, use dry cleaning pads to attract dust, sand and grime and leave your laminate floors looking spotless.
Maintain Steady Humidity Levels
Laminate flooring is especially sensitive to humidity. Excessive moisture makes the material expand. This creates bubbles and waves in the flooring. Keep the humidity levels in your home between 35% and 65% to protect your investment.
Using central air conditioning and keeping your windows closed in warm weather helps you achieve this goal. You might also use a dehumidifier in damp areas, such as basements and bathrooms.
Wear Socks More
Shoes with hard soles can scratch and dull laminate flooring. You can make it a habit to wear socks or soft-soled shoes around the house. But you can’t make your pets wear socks. Keep their nails trimmed to avoid marring the finish with pesky surface scratches.
Be careful when you’re cleaning your laminate flooring, though. If you walk across damp floors with socks, you’ll create temporary marks that look dull when the light reflects off of them. Make sure that the flooring is completely dry before you allow anyone, including your pets, to step on it.
Can you Make Laminate Flooring Waterproof?
Laminate flooring has a relatively tough wear layer on the surface. However, the absorbent core can swell if water makes its way to it. Therefore, take measures to prevent water from seeping into the cracks.
- Seal the seams – Seal the expansion gap with caulk or silicone. This is essential in high-moisture rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom.
- Add sealant – Coating the floor with polyurethane provides an extra layer of protection. You can also use sealant in the locking systems to fill the gaps between the planks. However, you should check with the manufacturer to find out which sealants they recommend.
- Install waterproof flooring – Some types of laminate are more waterproof than others. Use these in areas that are exposed to moisture and spills. No laminate is completely waterproof, though. You should use these recommendations for how to protect laminate flooring even if you have the waterproof version.
- Wipe spills quickly – Don’t let liquids pool on the floor; keep the surface dry at all times.
Don’t Ignore Problems
Gouges that penetrate several layers of the material, warping and peeling issues should be addressed as soon as they happen. If you compromise the wear layer at the surface, dirt can get in and cause deeper erosion. Moisture can also enter, creating bigger problems.
If you notice that the laminate is warping, buckling or bubbling, you should investigate the source of the moisture issue. Leaving damp laminate on the floor can create further moisture issues and encourage mold and mildew growth. But you might keep encountering the problem if you don’t identify the cause.
Remove the boards and look for water damage around them. Address leaks in the perimeter of your home or from pipes. Replace the damaged parts of the floor with fresh laminate.
Contact a flooring expert if you’re not sure how to protect laminate flooring. They can guide you toward the right methods and products. A professional can also help you make repairs to extend the life of your floors.