What’s the best way to get sad-looking floors like new again? Read on for advice on cleaning and caring for the most popular types of flooring.
Dirt and sand can scratch a solid timber floor, so the top tip is simply to vacuum or sweep with an electrostatic mop. “These floors are best vacuumed weekly, as dust, dander and other allergens can work their way into the cracks between floorboards,” says Craig Knighton of Vax.
You can also use a damp but thoroughly wrung out mop on timber – microfibre flat mops are better than sponge or string ones here. Check your cleaning product is pH-neutral and not spirit or solvent based, avoid abrasive or concentrated detergents, and never use scourers or steel wool.
Minor scratches in floorboards can often be touched up using a tinted wax crayon. You can also try a touch-up pen or buff-and-polish fluid. If there is a deeper scratch or ding, but the damage is not extensive enough to justify refinishing the whole floor, a timber touch-up kit might save the day.
Denise Retallick of Gerflor (Senso) says, “Vinyl flooring is by far one of the easiest types of floors to maintain. Scuff marks, dirt and grime will effortlessly wipe away with any pH-neutral cleaner.” Bear in mind that decades-old vinyl flooring that’s sustained heavy wear might need to be replaced.
Consider self-adhesive vinyl planks which are easy to install and very hardwearing – and in the unlikely event you manage to gouge or scrape one, there’s a simple solution: “Using a hair dryer, gently warm the damaged plank for several minutes, then prise up the edge with a utility knife until you can grab it,” says Denise. “Then just remove the plank and replace it with a new one.”
Clean spot stains on carpets or rugs using a specialist carpet stain remover, and once or twice a year, treat your carpet to a steam clean to wash out ground-in dirt; deep cleaners are available from the Hire Shop.
As with solid timber flooring, abrasion from soil and sand particles is damaging to both engineered and laminate-type floating floors. Engineered floorboards have a thin layer of real timber under the surface, so they can be sanded and refinished like solid floorboards, giving you an opportunity to reverse any damage. Laminate floors don’t have this timber layer and can’t be fixed the same way.
Laminate floors are particularly sensitive to moisture, so wipe up any spills immediately. If something gets stuck on, use a plastic or wooden spatula to gently remove it; never use a scouring pad or metal implement.
As with other hard floors, vacuum tiles weekly, then give them a solid clean by mopping with a solution of water and white vinegar; often vinegar makes ceramic tiles sparkle more brightly than chemical cleaning solutions, and it’s also gentle on the environment.
Stone tiles tend to need more frequent cleaning, so a microfibre power cleaner can be an effective way to save elbow grease. Only use mild solutions such as water with dishwashing liquid to avoid damaging the sealant. If they do become damaged, tiles can be difficult to repair. A cracked tile will need to be removed and replaced, which is fiddly but achievable for a confident DIYer. If you’re laying new tile floors, hold back a few spare tiles in case of future accidents.
Photo Credit: Senso by Gerflor and Brigid Arnott