Our floors take good care of us, despite the fact that we walk all over them day-in and day-out. And like any other part of the home, they deserve special attention if you want them to last as long as you do.
Preventing wear and tear on your floors can be a difficult undertaking as your approach will differ depending on what material you’re working with. Common floor materials like hardwood, tile, linoleum, vinyl, and laminate all have different temperaments and therefore require a unique approach. With that said, take the time now to learn how to protect all flooring types by reading our handy guide below.
Placing a mat, rug, or other protective cover at your home’s entrance is an effective way to stop grime at its source. This allows you, your family, and visitors the opportunity to shake off loose dirt and other debris attached to shoes. This mat should be large enough to store a group of shoes if you have a no-shoe policy in your home.
Mind your pets
Hardwood floors are susceptible to scratches and dents, especially if you have animals in the home. While it’d be nearly impossible to ban your dog from ever entering the hardwood floor zone, you can still minimize damage by regularly cutting their nails.
It’s possible to cut too far into a dog’s nail and cause bleeding. If you want to cut your dog’s nails yourself, make sure you place a towel or protective covering on the floor before doing so. Blood that’s settled too long on the hardwood can be difficult to remove, setting you back even further from where you started. Take a look at this guide for more in-depth instructions on how to cut your dog’s nails.
Cats don’t ding up hardwood floors as much as dogs do. They’re more interested in tearing apart your furniture. If your cat is the exception to this rule, consider investing in cat nail caps as an alternative to declawing. Properly applying these to your cat’s nails can be a bit of work, but this ultimately pays off considering they tend to stay put for 4 – 6 weeks.
Limit your use of water when cleaning
Mopping up your hardwood floors with an excessive amount of water can prove to be damaging since wood is quite porous. Too much water absorption can result in stained floors and weaker planks. Be mindful of how much water you’re using to clean hardwood even if its waxed and sealed.
Water can soak into your hardwood floor in other ways, too. Consider placing a mat next to your refrigerator to reduce damage from spillage coming from the water dispenser. Do the same for areas of the hardwood floor located next to sinks and toilets. The right mat will make your home look even more inviting and clean at the same time.
Consider sealing your tiles and grout
Your tile floor will be more susceptible to water damage if it’s made of natural stone like slate, marble or limestone. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are better at keeping water out and are usually good as is, though you may want to take extra precaution if you can afford it. HomeSteady estimates that it’ll cost up to $200 to clean and seal a 16-by-16 foot area of tile, though keep in mind that this will vary depending on who you hire and their quality of service.
There’s much debate as to whether you should also seal your tile grout. Some people believe you should allow tile to breathe while others stand firm that sealed grout is crucial to keeping your tile free of damage. We recommend pouring a few drops of water on your grout before deciding whether you should seal it. Grout that needs sealing will rapidly absorb the water right before your eyes.
Keep an eye on the thermostat
Despite its name, laminate flooring is actually made mostly of wood fibers. Since wood is sensitive to moisture, many people will avoid wet-mopping their laminate floors to avoid too much absorption and the resulting stains. What many people don’t know is that moisture in the air can also harm laminate and wood flooring.
According to SFGate, flooring manufacturers encourage homeowners with laminate floors to keep humidity “within a range of 30 percent to 60 percent.” Going below 30 percent can cause the boards to shrink. This will result in gaps between the boards. Anything above 60 percent, on the other hand, will cause the boards to expand and push against each other.
If you’ve yet to install your laminate floors, make sure to leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap between the boards and the perimeter. This gives the boards extra room to expand if the humidity is above 60 percent.
Heavy furniture can cause deep creases and damage to your carpet if the proper precautions aren’t taken. One way to prevent this is to regularly re-situate your furniture. We aren’t very fond of this method as it takes too much time, and in the end, you’re only moving the problem, not solving it. That’s why we suggest investing in furniture coasters.
Coasters protect your carpet and other surfaces by distributing the weight of the furniture more evenly. All you have to do is place them underneath the legs of your furniture and you’re ready to go! Depending on the weight of your particular piece of furniture, you may have to still move it around to avoid deep indentations. Coasters also make lugging these around much easier.
Keep your carpeting out of the sun
Carpeting is known to fade in color if it’s exposed to UV rays for a long period of time. Your carpet doesn’t need to be sitting outdoors for this to happen, as UV rays coming through your windows or glass doors have a similar effect.
There are a number of strategies to prevent your carpet from being overexposed to natural light. The simplest and cheapest solution is to close your blinds and/or shutters partially or completely to prevent light from coming in. Consider installing these on any windows or glass doors that currently don’t have them.
The more costly alternative to simply shutting your blinds is to invest in tinting your windows. This is a great option for people who love having their home flooded with natural light. ImproveNet estimates this project will cost between $5 and $8 per square foot if done by a professional window contractor. The DIY approach, however, will be a little cheaper at around $2 to $4 per square foot.
Have the carpets professionally cleaned
In addition to vacuuming your carpet on a regular basis, you should also schedule a yearly or bi-annual deep clean by your local carpet cleaning professionals. Carpet is known to trap dirt, debris and other messes that won’t be noticed by the naked eye. They can also hold allergens like pet hair, dust mites and mold spores that may be affecting your health without you even realizing it. You might just be surprised at how different your carpeting looks after a professional clean if you’ve never hired such a service.
For more information, take a look at our guide on how to find the best carpet cleaning service.
Vinyl and linoleum
While they have their similarities, vinyl and linoleum floors should be treated as two separate materials with different temperaments and qualities. The biggest mistake you can make is treating these like they’re one in the same.
Flooring experts agree that both linoleum and vinyl are some of the most durable flooring materials out there. However, linoleum is generally more sensitive to cleaners with high acidity. This might require you to find a cleaner that’s made specifically for linoleum. Additionally, it’s recommended that you apply an acrylic coating to linoleum annually.
Vinyl tends to require less maintenance than linoleum. There aren’t really any special tricks when it comes to cleaning this type of surface. Regularly sweep and vacuum vinyl to keep it clear of any debris and you should be good to go! Keep in mind that a poorly installed vinyl floor may be more susceptible to water damage. Additionally, you should avoid running around the surface in shoes as vinyl can become discolored when it comes into contact with rubber. Take a look at this guide to see the pros and cons of vinyl.
Enjoy your floors for longer when you take these measures to protect all flooring types in your home!
In addition to the suggestions listed above, consider placing protective covers on the legs of your chairs and tables to prevent scratches on the floor. You should also avoid wearing heels in the home as these can create dents. When cleaning your floors, make sure you have the right tools for the job: