People who have flooring (which is most of us who don’t live on dirt floors) often make some basic mistakes that later cause problems for their flooring that were preventable.
1. When selecting a flooring it is critical that the usage of the floor is consistent with the flooring capabilities. For example selecting a cheap builder grade laminate floor and putting it in a commercial bank lobby will only lead to problems. Simialarly you must consider environmental restrictions or other cautions with the specific product you put in (low humidity and radiant heat capatible?) to be sure that you aren’t voiding your warranty before you start.
2. Set your own expectations clearly to the flooring provider so that they can guide you toward something that meets those expectations. Sometimes your expectations are higher than your budget may allow so it may be important to reset those before making a final flooring selection.
3. Maintenance is the most overlooked and often ignored part of flooring until the problem occurs. Too little maintenance will lead to dis-satisfied customers and ironically too much water used during maintenance of wood based flooring will led to disaster. Follow the suggested maintenance and DO NOT OVERWET your wood base floors. (wood based floors include, laminate flooring, hardwood flooring of all types, bamboo floors, cork floors and any floor with an HDF core and more.)
Thousands of floors are sold everyday, yet seldom does the topic of what is the biggest killer of new flooring come up. Why not?
1. Flooring buyers are not in a position to ask questions about a topic in which they are not experts therefore there is no line of questioning that may surface this topic.
2. Many flooring merchants are not in the business of bringing up deal breaking topics, despite the fact that if they surfaced this issue before the sale they would have more happy customers long term. The best sales people with a long term mentality will help a buyer get the right questions on the table, even if it jeopardizes the sale today.
So what is the killer for hard surface floors? The number one killer is dirt and sand which is small and brought in by shoes, pets, kids and normal traffic. What makes this a killer for flooring, however, is the lack of maintenance. A grain of sand combined with other grains of sand can act EXACTLY like sandpaper under shoes. Imagine someone wearing shoes is standing in an area where there is a little bit of sand under there feet. Not enough to qualify as a messy home, but enough to scratch right through the top finish layers of the flooring when someone pivots or changes direction while standing over those little tiny grains of sand.
Vacuum and or dust mop regularly your flooring and be mindful that the more sand and debris that can be tracked in the more your beautiful new flooring is at risk. Be sure to use walk on and walk off mats and don’t be afraid to use the no shoe policy. After all flooring is one of the largest home or office improvement investments that people and companies make – why risk it all by letting a few grains of sand destroy your new flooring?
The next biggest killer of flooring: MOISTURE! – watch for a topic on that soon.
Buying flooring is not something people do everyday, in fact it is a process that folks tend to avoid until they absolutely have to deal with it.
Because of the lack of frequency there are some basic aspects to floor shopping that seems to catch people by surprise. Worse yet, there are some common mistakes that create for unfavorable flooring experiences both during the shopping process and for years to come as they look at the flooring that didn’t measure up to what they thought they were getting.
Here are the top 3 mistakes people make when shopping for flooring:
1. Improper Expectations! – Whether you enter the process with expectations of scratch proof, dent proof, bullet proof flooring or not the flooring sales process tends to inflate your expectations. The “Lifetime” warranties or “50-YEAR” warranties all imply that the flooring will last forever. However, the fine print on all of the warranties basically say the same thing: Normal wear and tear are not covered. So who decides what is normal? Take a guess…
Improper expectations also stem from anecdotes from others. “I had an oak floor for 30 years and it never scratched.” – Well – it did scratch, and new flooring will scratch too. It’s all a matter of relatively. Some floors are more resistant to scratching than others, but often the finish has kind of an orange peel texture to it so it don’t look as nice as some of the other finishes. The point is that having resonsable expectations about a floor are an important part of the process. The laws of physics still apply. It is a floor that is walked on. But if you balance your lifestyle, your expectations and the maintenance you can have the perfect flooring solution.
2. Maintenance Free! – No matter what the sales guy tells you YOU WILL have to maintain the flooring. Yes, there are floors with easier maintenance than others, but again it is just a question of relativity. The number of times people complain about having to clean the floor when they thought their flooring was maintenance free is staggering. ALL flooring requires vacuuming or sweeping and appropriate mopping as well. The method and quantity of water you use may change based on the type of flooring, but make no mistake the MOST IMPORTANT key to keeping your flooring in good condition over the long haul is proper maintenance.
3. Sales Double Speak! – Salespeople are a normal part of the equation when you make a big ticket purchase. The philisophy of “selling is something you do FOR someone rather than do TO someone” is not always followed. Too often some of the sales people are more like used car dealers slyly smiling and asking “What can I do to get you into this hardwood floor today?”
When you start to feel that too much technical talk is being bantered about ask the sales guy to speak in plain English. After all you don’t care what the density per cubic meter of the HDF is, you care if the flooring will look good and perform well in your home. If they can’t speak in terms that you understand or are comfortable with find a new resource.
Q: I have Bruce Hardwood Oak prefinished flooring in my kitchen. I use Pledge Hardwood Floor Cleaner and a large terry mop and all seems fine. My husband and I recently saw a steam cleaner and we were wondering if that would be better. Our floor installer said water was the floors worst enemy – which made me wonder about the long term effect of steam cleaning. By the way we love our Bruce Flooring.
Thanks advance for your help.
A: I would avoid using any form of steam cleaner on a hardwood floor. Your installer is right on, water can be the worst enemy of any wood floor, but so can shifts in temperature. With a steam cleaner, you would be very quickly applying both heat and moisture to your floor, which means for a brief moment as the floor is heated, it will expand, then contract as it returns to its normal temperature. This expansion and contraction, albeit minor, can cause gapping to occur over time.
The current method you are using is good and suggested. Using an approved cleaner (no wax or oil-base cleaners), spray a light mist over the floor then follow up with a microfiber or terrycloth mop head to clean and dry the floor. The easiest way to think here is akin to a swiffer, a small amount of cleaner goes a long way with wood floors. You can also lightly damn your mop, but make sure it is very little moisture as you don’t want excessive moisture or standing moisture on the floor. Its sometimes advisable to follow up with a dry terrycloth towel to ensure any and all remaining moisture is removed from the floor.
Q: Can I use a irobot to clean my laminate floor? If not what is the best way to clean them?
A: Tough question, and technically the answer here is yes and no. Before we get going, I do want to say that these little guys are pretty cool. The Roomba, being the most well known of the iRobot line is quite the little invention and a few folks around the office here love theirs.
Now let’s dig into the question. iRobot specifically states their scooba (the floor washing version) is safe for sealed wood floors. Scooba uses a special cleaning solution made by Clorox, which gives me a small amount of concern because I can’t tell you if it would cause streaking or a dull residue over the finish of most wood floors. The other thing to pay attention here is that it suggests that any floor which you normally mop, a scooba will work for. With hardwood, you don’t do traditional mopping, but think more like a swiffer here, very little liquid, just a light mist, then follow up with a micro fiber mop. Technically iRobot states that it is safe for sealed floors, which all prefinished floors are, but I would be cautious because I’m not sure how much liquid it uses and if too much gets into the seams it can spell disaster.
I think you would be a bit better off with something like the Roomba, using it solely to replace sweeping, then follow up with a proper hard surface floor cleaner like BonaKemi or one suggested by the floor’s manufacturer and a microfiber mop.
Typically when cleaning wood or laminate floors you will want to regularly sweep the floor, or vacuum if your vacuum has an attachment without the beater bar, then follow up with a proper laminate floor cleaner and a microfiber mop. With the cleaner, less is more, use only enough to lightly mist a small area then follow up with the microfiber mop. Once done its a good idea to over the floor with a terrycloth towel or similar, on the end of your mop pole to pull up all remaining moisture, just to make sure it gets fully dry.
Q: I purchased a Shaw laminate floor about 6 years ago. I was told by the sales associate in the flooring department at Home Depot to treat the floor just like a laminate counter top. So I started out mopping it with pine o pine. That left a definite streaking on the floor. So I stopped that right away and went to a product “Bona Hard Surface Cleaner.” The label said it was recommended for laminate flooring and left no dulling residue. I have notice a definite dulling and no shine whatsoever on my floor for a few years now.
I recently contacted Shaw on their consumer helpline and they recommended a product just for their floor that I should have been sold in the first place, I don’t have it with me but I think it is RX2 or something like that exclusively for their floor, but they said since I had been using a Bona product on my floor I should contact Bona to find out how to safely remove their product from my floor without damaging it. I contacted Bona by phone where you have to leave a message and by email and I have not received an answer yet and I am growing frustrated.
I went back to Home Depot and they recommended using Mineral Spirits to clean the residue off the floor. I am a bit skeptical since they did not sell me the correct cleaner years ago in the first place. I just feel very frustrated with my floor that I purchased and installed with a 15 year warranty and I am not sure exactly what to do at this point, the floor surface in my family room is approximately 990 sq. ft. Any professional advice would be great!!
A: Typically when switching between cleaners after finding that one cleaner is causing a problem, you can see something like a dull appearance. I can’t say I’ve known of any issues with the Bona products when used initially, as many of the cleaners out there made by companies mimic a formula similar to Bona’s.
What is likely happening here is that the streaking you saw from the pine o pine, left a residue layer that the bona tried to remove, but instead caused the dull appearance as the two cleaners react with each other. Now you could try using mineral spirits to remove this, as mineral spirits is very mild, but if you do make sure that you wipe with the mineral spirits, then follow up with a mop which is lightly damp over the floor, then take a terrycloth towel and go over the floor to ensure any remaining moisture is pulled up.
It may take a couple of tries to get up all the remaining cleaner, but remember not to use too much of the mineral spirits and do NOT leave mineral spirits on the floor without following up shortly with a damp mop or some regular cleaner.
Shaw’s R2X is very similar to the Bona Hard Surface cleaner, and should work for you once you remove the current residue. If you continue to have troubles remove this residue, I would suggest contacting pine o pine as the residue/dull look you are getting is most likely caused by the initial streaky appearance from the pine o pine. Remember, when cleaning wood floors, less is more – lightly mist a cleaner over the floor then follow up with a dry microfiber mop.
Q: I will be building a new office and am considering using cork flooring. I am concerned about how it will wear under areas where an office chair will roll on it all day.
A: Cork can work very well in an office setting, in fact we have a very large area here at the office which is all done with a floating cork floor from Westhollow. One benefit to the slight cushion cork has is that it will give under the chairs, which can help cushion the impact of movement. If you are fairly concerned about scratching, you can change the casters on officer chairs to a softer rubber rather than the typical hard plastic, but from my experience here as long as the floor is kept clean and grit and debris is kept off the floor it should perform well.
My biggest advice here would be to use 6mm cork underlayment if you choose a floating cork floor. Any other underlayment which is less dense will cause more movement in the floor as weight is displaced over it, such as when walking, and this additional movement can be trouble when office chairs are moving about.
Cork can work very well, just ensure that the floor is regularly cleaned and dirt and grit is prevented from getting on the floor and you should have little issues with office chairs messing up your cork floor. Keep in mind, the finish is not as abrasion resistant as laminate, as it needs to be more flexible, but with cork’s give it helps to prevent damage to the floor.