Cleaning Laminate Floors – What is a Laminate Floor

In recent years, at least for the past decade, laminate flooring has become popular in both the residential and commercial market.  Initially, it took off in the residential market but the commercial market has discovered it and recognizes it as a viable flooring option that is less costly to purchase and install than other flooring.    

A laminate floor by definition is flooring that uses multiple layers of material glued together with an adhesive. So by definition, plywood could be considered a laminate floor.  

 

Cleaning Laminate Floors – Most are Three Layers 

  1. The first layer is the decorative/wear layer. The top layer is composed of a decorative layer made from a printed cellulose material and then sealed by a protective coating or wear layer impregnated with plastic resins.
     
  2. The middle layer is a central core layer consisting of materials that give the flooring its strength and toughness. The base material for this layer mainly some type of grade of particle board. Based on what the specific demands for the specific type of laminate flooring, the central core layer comes in variety of strengths and thicknesses.
     
  3. The bottom Layer is of similar construction of the top layer utilizing materials like cellulose material soaked in plastic resin and is the base that holds the system together. This layer is considered the stabilizing layer.
     

Laminate flooring is a vast topic and covers many different types of flooring. However, there are two basic types of laminate flooring and once identified what type of laminate flooring needs to be cleaned, the cleaning principles applied to other floors can be applied to a laminate floor. This article will outline those steps.   

 

Cleaning Laminate Floors – Two Basic Types

  • Wood Laminates The category name “Wood Laminate” says exactly what it is…Wood. The top layer of the laminate is actual wood. Almost all wood laminates come from the factory already sealed with a coating for protection and gloss. If not, the unsealed (raw wood) will need to be sealed prior to cleaning. This will protect the unsealed wood laminate. All wood laminate floors should be treated and cleaned like any other wood floor. See prior articles on cleaning wood floors (How to Clean Hardwood Floors – Simple Regular Cleaning and Cleaning Hardwood Floors Do’s and Don’ts). Always consult with your laminate flooring manufacturer for the do’ and don’ts on the cleaning maintenance of their particular flooring product. This is especially true with unsealed wood laminate floors.   
     
  • Vinyl Laminates Vinyl Laminates are the most popular type of laminate floor purchased. This category covers many different types of top layer of the laminate floor. For the most part, these are flooring types that can be cleaned like any other vinyl, vinyl composition, rubber, no wax, etc. tile flooring.
     

 

Cleaning Laminate Floors – Cleaning Procedures

 

Dry Cleaning:

  • Commercial and Residential – Remove of dust and loose debris including sand, grit, etc. using an untreated dust mop or Microfiber pad.
     

Wet Cleaning:

  • Commercial – Manual damp mopping or the use of power equipment such as an automatic scrubber equipped with a white or red floor pads (Least aggressive) with a quality approved cleaner used according to label directions.
     
  • Residential – Manual damp mopping with a microfiber flat mop system used with a quality approved cleaner used according to label directions.Perhaps the most popular brand name of vinyl type laminate flooring is “Pergo”. They employ a three layer system composed of decorative top layer and resins and a bottom layer that is a tough heat-resistant layer. These two layers (Top and Bottom) are adhered to a central core material making up the three layer system. According to Pergo, the hardeners they use are what make the laminate 25 times tougher than countertop laminates.Always consult with your laminate flooring manufacturer for the do’ and don’ts on the cleaning maintenance of their particular flooring product.  

 

Cleaning Laminate Floors – Best Practices

The proper chemical and tools are critical. Again, as stated in previous articles, professional grade cleaning products out perform over the counter cleaning agents. This does not mean that consumer cleaning products will not work and many of them perform extremely well. With that stated, Professional Grade cleaning agents normally provide a better dilution range which saves money by using less chemical and more water.Just like all floor cleaning, most soils are acidic and require a base or alkaline cleaner to remove the soil. Another best practice whether purchased in the consumer markets (Retail Stores) or a Commercial Supply Center, a microfiber is the best choice in cleaning Laminate flooring, especially in the residences. Always use the selected cleaning chemical according to label directions. 

 

Cleaning Laminate Floors – Warranties

The understanding of the specific manufacturer’s warranty of the laminate flooring is important. Any violation of the warranty will void it. So, it is important that the warranty is read and understood prior to performing installation and/or any maintenance…cleaning or otherwise.As an example, many warranties will warranty wearing through. Meaning it is warranted that the laminate flooring will not wear all the way through but does not cover loss of the top layer including gloss. So in this example, if foot traffic erodes the gloss of the flooring the warranty would not cover loss of gloss. So the proper use of cleaners, tools, equipment, etc. is critical knowledge to avoid any damage. Due to the extreme or increase levels of foot traffic in commercial buildings, this point may be even more critical when deciding a particular laminate manufacturer.However, laminate flooring is generally an extremely durable product and because it is so durable, most manufacturers offer excellent warranties. Laminates flooring is a fast growing market and will continue to grow because of their benefits including lower cost for both the product, installation and cleaning maintenance. 

 

Helpful Additional Reference Websites

 

The Laminate Flooring Site  

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