Being economical and durable are two hallmarks of the laminate floor, which came into existence in the 1970s thanks to advances in technology and engineering. Laminate floors may not sound as appealing as hardwood or marble, but they have their place in many homes, including higher-end homes now, thanks to even more innovations in flooring over the decades.
Laminate floors are composed of a particle board base, an “image” layer with the visible print, and a transparent coating layer atop that. Prints on a laminate floor can be made to mimic wood, marble, stone, or present other man-made designs. Laminate floors can come in rolls or pre-cut squares, depending on how each manufacturer creates its products.
Though laminate floors used to be much more popular, they are not as much anymore, especially in certain parts of the United States, such as the southern areas. The humble laminate floor can have a bad reputation among home buyers despite its positive qualities. As you prepare to list your home for sale it’s important to get them looking their best. It’s also important to know what to do — and what not to do — before deep cleaning this type of flooring.
Clean floors convey a higher sense of value to buyers when they walk through your home. A dirty floor is unappealing and can leave a bad impression. A clean floor shows the home has been cared for and well maintained. A dirty floor may cause potential buyers to wonder what else may not be maintained in the house.
Dingy or faded laminate floors that have been worn down or neglected over time can still be made more appealing, at least enough to help sell your home. Buyers who have plans to make major renovations in the home may not mind dingy floors, especially if the floor style looks dated. However, it’s still wise to make them as clean as possible and present them in their best light with a deep cleaning tailored to your specific flooring.
How is deep cleaning different from regular cleaning?
Regular cleaning includes dusting, organizing clutter, wiping down surfaces, and clearing dirt and debris from floors to give the home a fresh feel and a brighter appearance. Deep cleaning goes beyond surface appearances to remove dirt, grime, and scum in the house and focuses on sanitizing and disinfecting to help keep people healthy. Deep cleaning has longer staying power and more noticeable results, but it typically takes longer because it involves more detailed work.
Deep cleaning is also different from normal cleaning because it’s more intensive and not done as often. Regular cleaning might be performed once a week for the average household. Deep cleaning is applied less frequently — perhaps only a few times a year.
For this post, we consulted with Scott Johnston, the owner of Carpet Care of Carolinas in Raleigh, North Carolina, founded in 1970. Johnston has been involved in the family business his entire life and has become an expert on how to clean laminate floors.
He explains how to pay special attention to laminate floors to keep them from becoming damaged, discolored, or warped. Floors that have been too enthusiastically scrubbed or neglected may require services like his to restore them beyond what the home DIYer can accomplish, or a professional may recommend replacing the floors entirely.
Before you start cleaning, make sure you know how to give your laminate flooring the special treatment it deserves to sparkle for years to come. “Identify what type of floor you’re dealing with first,” Johnston advises. “It’s a good idea to research and find out what type of floor you have because you can’t treat all floors the same, there are so many types of materials now.”
What you’ll need for deep cleaning laminate floors
Before you begin cleaning your laminate floors, gather the materials you’ll need for an easier cleaning session. Tools and products you’ll need to deep clean your laminate floor include:
- Dry mop
- Clean, soft microfiber towels
- Wet mop
- Medium-sized bucket
- Water-based finish made for laminate floors, such as Bona or Black Diamond
Steps for deep cleaning laminate floors
When it comes to cleaning laminate floors, Johnston recommends starting with the easiest steps first and progressing further as needed. “Less is best when trying to clean flooring,” he says. “Always start with dry cleaning a floor, or if you have a good vacuum that won’t cause damage to the floor.”
Use dry methods
Step 1: Use a broom or vacuum to remove loose dirt and dust.
Step 2: Use a microfiber dust mop to remove smaller particles.
Introduce water only
Step 1: Clean the microfiber or use a fresh one and wet the microfiber. Lightly work it across the floor to loosen caked-in dirt or dust.
Step 2: Repeat if needed with a wet microfiber cloth.
Add cleaners as needed
Step 1: To tackle stubborn buildup, use a cleaner made for your flooring’s finish to avoid creating buildup or damaging the finish.
Step 2: Scrub. “You can be more aggressive with them when deep cleaning,” says Johnson.
Step 3: Use water again to keep buildup from the cleaner from sticking to the floor.
Other than adding some elbow grease, Johnston doesn’t recommend much more than this for homeowners to keep their laminate floors clean. “If you’re going through the steps above, a little muscle and a soft pad are what you want to use,” he says. “If you have a good finish, it’s impossible for dirt to get into or under the finish, it’s made to keep everything on top of the finish.”
The biggest mistake people make when cleaning laminate floors
Laminate floors can take a little more abuse when being cleaned than natural surfaces. But still, certain chemicals should never be used on floors. Bleach is the top no-no for floors. “Bleach is a terrible thing to ever clean with, it may help with certain issues,” says Johnson.”But if it gets into the tile or ceramic, you can take the color out.”
Soapy cleaners are another big product to avoid. “It makes it much more difficult to get it off and will stick to your flooring, which attracts more dirt,” he explains. “Most products we use to clean, the chemistry turns into a dirt magnet.” Look for products by Bona, or other ones specifically recommended by the flooring manufacturer.
How to keep your laminate floors protected day to day
Once you’ve cleaned your laminate floors well following Johnston’s advice, you’ll want to keep them looking good from day to day. Luckily, Johnston doesn’t recommend daily cleaning, especially for lower-traffic rooms. “If you have a room you’re never in, like a dining room, you don’t need to clean daily or even weekly,” he says. “For a main hallway or kitchen, it’s a good idea to go over it with a dry mop daily, then with a wet mop and no cleaning solution once or twice a week.”
How they build and install laminate floors is how they will remain, Johnson advised. A dry or wet mop is generally all it takes to maintain a clean-looking laminate floor. It can be a tough sell, but getting into a regular floor cleaning routine will help keep floors looking nice, as it will cut down on the number of dry particles that can damage the floor. You should not use cleaning products on your floors every time you clean, only when you do a deeper clean, bi-monthly at most.
When it comes to laminate floors, the key is routine
Johnston says that most people ruin their laminate floors by letting particles scratch deep into the surface over time. For this reason, routine light cleaning is one of the best ways to maintain and protect your floors.
Cleaning the floors of your home — both a deep cleaning and regular cleaning — can send a message to potential buyers telling them that you value your home and have taken good care of it over the years.
An experienced real estate agent can help you prepare your home so it’s in top condition before you place it on the market. HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform can connect you with an agent who knows the value of a clean, cared-for laminate floor, and more.
As you prepare your home for sale, if you’re curious what it might be worth, try HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator. In less than two minutes you can see a real-world ballpark home value estimate.
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