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Home / Common Questions / The Definitive Guide to Floor Care for All Flooring Types

The Definitive Guide to Floor Care for All Flooring Types


The Definitive Guide to Floor Care for All Flooring Types

Flooring is, quite literally, the foundational design element of your home. It sets the tone for the entire room, no matter if it’s a well-appointed, palatial living space or an uber-functional apartment kitchen. It’s one of the few interior design elements that could serve the space for more than a century—after all, it’s not uncommon to see gorgeously maintained hardwood floors from the 1800s still in play today—but it takes regular and occasional maintenance to keep floors in tip-top shape. If you want to keep your flooring looking spectacular and to protect your investment well into the future, you’ve got to know how to care for your floors.
caution sign floor cleaning

CAUTION: Read the Manufacturer’s Care and Maintenance Instructions Before Cleaning Your Floors!

Before you clean any floor, be sure to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions. Each manufacturer has its own recommendations and requirements which may differ widely from one brand, finish or material to another. If you do not properly follow the instructions set forth by the floor’s manufacturer, you risk voiding your floor’s warranty. Note that some flooring manufacturers actually have their own branded cleaners and almost all call out specific floor care products and brands in their care and maintenance instructions. Never use any homemade or DIY floor cleaners on your floors.

Solid Hardwood

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Remember those 100-year-old-plus floors we were talking about? They were hardwood, of course. You don’t have to explain why you’ve chosen solid hardwood flooring for your home. It goes without saying that this flooring type is extremely hardy, long-lasting and, of course, easy on the eyes. Hardwood is beloved for its comfortable, classic feel that’s easy to integrate into virtually any home d├ęcor style and for its ability to be sanded down and refinished. Keep in mind, traditional hardwood does have a few vulnerabilities that must be considered during cleaning.

Know Before You Begin

Hardwood’s arch nemesis is moisture, especially standing liquid that’s allowed to absorb below the surface. This can cause the floor to expand, warp and cup. This should always be your primary consideration when cleaning hardwood. Always wipe up spills immediately and don’t allow liquid to pool. Additionally, you should avoid putting any product on your floor that contains ammonia, wax, solvents, bleach, detergents, polishes or vinegar. Never use steel wool, stiff cleaning brushes or steam cleaners on hardwood.

Tools and Cleaners

Check with the flooring manufacturer before selecting a cleaner, but Bona floor cleaners, made specifically for hardwood, are often a great option. You’ll need a gentle hardwood floor cleaner, a microfiber mop and a vacuum.

living room with hardwood flooring

How to Clean Hardwood

Sweep and vacuum using a soft, hardwood brush head twice per week at minimum to get rid of any surface debris that could damage the finish. Once a week, use the recommended liquid cleaner according to the instructions from the manufacturer. Do not use excess liquid and allow to dry with fans. Address spills and stains immediately.

How to Repair Hardwood

Another great plus with hardwood is that it’s fairly easy to repair and can often be salvaged even in the face of serious damage. Some manufacturers recommend using scratch and touch-up kits to address small imperfections, but you may occasionally need to sand and refinish the floor if there are deep nicks and scratches.

Occasional Spiff-Ups

Your manufacturer may recommend using a refresher or revitalizer on occasion to help revive dull-looking floors. You may also want to recoat your floors periodically to refresh the protective surface reatment.  Consult a professional for advice on the screen and recoat process.

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NOTE: The above instructions do not apply to waxed, oiled or unfinished wood floors. These specialty wood flooring types require their own special set of considerations.

Engineered Hardwood

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Homeowners looking for the stunning, natural look of solid wood coupled with humidity tolerance should consider installing engineered hardwood. This structurally stable flooring is made of multiple layers of wood which are adhered together to form a durable plank. These layers create stability to help the planks better manage temperature fluctuations, so they don’t warp, cup or expand quite as easily. This makes engineered hardwood floors a great choice for use in below-grade installation (such as in a basement), in kitchens or in humid climates.

Know Before You Begin

Avoid allowing moisture to sit unaddressed for long periods of time on engineered wood, just as you would with solid hardwood.  Additionally, make sure to avoid any wax, vinegar, harsh detergents and ammonia when cleaning engineered hardwood and never clean with steam cleaners, steel wool or stiff cleaning brushes.

Tools and Cleaners

Be sure to check with the flooring manufacturer before selecting a cleaner. Always clean engineered hardwood using a gentle cleaner, a microfiber mop and a vacuum with a soft hard-surface floor attachment.

How to Clean Engineered Hardwood

To clean engineered hardwood, regularly sweep and vacuum the surface of the floors at least twice per week. Once a week, following the cleaning instructions from the manufacturer, use minimal product and allow to thoroughly dry. Always address spills immediately.

How to Repair Engineered Hardwood

Depending on the extent of the damage, you can use engineered wood repair products to smooth away nicks and scratches. Like solid hardwood, some engineered hardwood can be sanded and refinished (depending on the thickness of the wearlayer), and this method can be used to address serious damage.

Occasional Spiff-Ups

The same refreshers and restorers for solid hardwood may be used on engineered floors to restore their shine and beauty. The occasional recoat of finish will keep things looking beautifully lustrous.

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If the word “laminate” conjures images of cold, commercial flooring, you haven’t seen the latest and greatest laminate flooring options out there! This popular solution replicates the look and feel of many natural materials, especially wood, but rings up for a fraction of the cost.  Though not waterproof, laminate floors are stain-resistant, fade-resistant, durable and are well-suited to medium-traffic applications. Many homeowners love their laminate wood flooring because it’s quite easy to maintain, as long as you have a solid routine and the right tools.

Know Before You Begin

Out of all the most popular flooring types, laminate is one of the most budget-friendly, but this may come at the compromise of durability. Laminate can be irreversibly damaged by moisture, so it’s important that you avoid using any steam cleaners or wet mops on your laminate floors. Prevent scratching or compromising the top layer and finish of your flooring and avoid using steel wool, ammonia, chlorinated or abrasive cleaners. Never use a buffing or polishing machine on laminate floors.

cleaning vinyl floor

Tools and Cleaners

Be sure to check with the flooring manufacturer before selecting a cleaner. Many hardwood floor cleaners are also recommended for use on laminate, but always make sure to choose a gentle, manufacturer-recommended cleaner. You’ll also need a microfiber mop and a vacuum.

How to Clean Laminate

Like all hard-surface floors, laminate should be thoroughly swept and vacuumed at least once a week using a hard-surface floor attachment. It can be damp mopped weekly using your preferred pH neutral gentle cleaner. Address stains immediately and never allow water to pool or settle on laminate floors.

How to Repair Laminate

It may be possible to repair nicks, scratches or dents in your laminate floors using a laminate repair kit, but serious damage may require replacement. You can replace laminate tiles or planks on a one-for-one basis.

Occasional Spiff-Ups

You can use some laminate-safe floor refresher and refinisher products to get a beautiful, renewed look from laminate.  Ask a flooring professional to recommend these products and consult your manufacturer care instructions as well.

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Vinyl Flooring

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Vinyl is one of the most versatile, attractive and long-lasting flooring options on the market. Its ability to adapt into just about any aesthetic makes it a true all-purpose flooring material. In fact, there are many different kinds of vinyl floors, billed under the names resilient vinyl, luxury vinyl tile (LVT), luxury vinyl plank (LVP), vinyl wood flooring and others. Vinyl can be produced, textured and finished to look just like hardwood, stone and a myriad of other materials, so it continues to excel in both residential and commercial flooring markets.  Twenty & Oak offers vinyl products are both safe for indoor air quality and are responsibly produced with various environmental certifications.

Know Before You Begin

Vinyl floors are quite durable and can withstand high volumes of foot traffic, but they do tend to be a bit softer than other hard-surface flooring and can be punctured by sharp or heavy objects. Additionally, if not treated with a special UV-resistant coating, vinyl floors can fade or change colors when regularly exposed to the sun, so keep that in mind as part of your care and maintenance plan.

Lastly, be aware that vinyl is susceptible to permanent damage and discoloration when exposed to certain chemicals and rubber, so never expose it to harsh cleaners, rugs with rubber backings or rubber soles. Do not clean your vinyl flooring with any abrasive powders or soaps, acetone, wax, varnish, steam cleaners or oil-based cleaners.

Tools and Cleaners

Be sure to check with the flooring manufacturer before selecting a cleaner. 

How to Clean Vinyl

Start by vacuuming or dry mopping your floor regularly, once or twice per week. Damp mop the floors according to the instructions on the recommended vinyl floor cleaner once a week. Address stains and spills immediately using your neutral cleaner.

How to Repair Vinyl

One of the main drawbacks of vinyl compared with wood floors is that it can be tough to repair, since it can’t be refinished. Replacing a portion of the floor on a one-for-one basis is not terribly difficult with planks and tiles. Damaged sheet vinyl may need to be entirely replaced, depending on the extent of the damage.

Occasional Spiff-Ups

To revitalize very old vinyl flooring, use a restore cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.  It is most likely more economical to simply replace aged vinyl floors with one of the many, durable and stylish options available at Twenty & Oak.

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Prevention Is Key to Flawless Floors

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As you can see, no matter the type, keeping your floors in pristine condition really comes down to following a simple routine—vacuum, sweep and mop regularly, and conservatively apply refresher products, as recommended by the manufacturer.  Additionally, you need to make sure that you’re safeguarding your floors from becoming dirty or damaged. You can do this by using rugs, floor mats and furniture protection pads in every room where you want to keep your flooring perfect and safeguard your investment.

Twenty & Oak is your resource for high-quality hard-surface flooring by the very best brands. Whether you’re embarking on a floor replacement project or are looking for sensible ways to revitalize the ones already in your home, Twenty & Oak is happy to assist you throughout the process.

Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts
Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast.

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