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Laminate and hardwood flooring are beautiful, durable choices for a wide range of commercial and residential applications. While laminate and hardwood are different materials, both surfaces need a consistent sweeping or vacuuming routine, advanced floor-care planning to prevent problems, and careful use of floor cleaning products.

Here are some floor-care tips to keep your laminate or hardwood surfaces in tip-top shape.

Basic Care

Since both floor surfaces are smooth, basic laminate and hardwood floor care starts with regular sweeping to remove dirt and gritty debris. Laminate flooring is protected with a thick external resin coat, so vacuum cleaners can also be used on the surface without fear of the beater bar harming the finish. When using a vacuum cleaner on hardwood floors, consider using soft-bristle brush attachments for open spaces or crevasse attachments for cleaning corner areas.

Preventive Maintenance

You can preserve the beauty of laminate and hardwood floors by following some simple tips, which include:

  • Using mats. When laminate or hardwood floors are right inside an exterior entrance door, walk-off mats can help trap dirt, minimize moisture and prevent tracking.
  • Using glides. To help maximize hardwood floor care, the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) recommends placing soft plastic or fabric-faced glides under chair, table and other furniture legs to avoid scuffs and scratches.
  • Placing area rugs. To help preserve laminate flooring from spills or water damage, consider placing area rugs in front of sinks or water fountains.
  • Wiping up spills. On both laminate and hardwood floors, immediately wipe up spills. Avoid wet mopping as a floor-care technique for both surfaces.
  • Taking caution with heavy objects. Just like other flooring surfaces, laminate or hardwood floors can be damaged by sliding heavy appliances or furnishings directly over the surfaces. To avoid this problem, cover laminate or hardwood floors with heavy cardboard or plywood before moving heavy items.
  • Watching the heels. As a general rule, laminate flooring can handle potential dents and dings better than hardwood floors. However, neither surface is impervious to damage from repeat abuse by athletic cleats or high heels. In fact, the NWFA notes that a 125-lb. woman wearing high heels can apply up to 2,000 lbs. of pressure per square inch on flooring surfaces.
  • Trimming pet nails. Remember, dogs and other pets with long, sharp nails can leave scratch and scuff marks on both hardwood and laminate surfaces. So, it’s a good idea to regularly trim pet nails in order to extend the life of your floors.

Advanced Care

Basic laminate flooring repairs:

  • According to the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA), small chips or holes in laminate flooring can be filled and fixed with finishing putty. Just use a sharp chisel or knife to clean up the damaged edges, surround the outside area with tape, and use a plastic spatula to work color-matched putty into the problem area. Remove the tape and allow the putty to dry. Larger areas of damage to laminate flooring will most likely require replacing the affected section.

Basic hardwood floor repairs:

  • Depending on size, small chips or holes in a hardwood floor may require removing any surface wax before filling the hole with putty. Unlike laminate, larger areas of damage to hardwood floors can often be sanded and refinished in place.
  • While NALFA says laminate floor care does not require waxes or special cleaners, bear in mind that such products are available from many leading floor product manufacturers. For hardwood floor care, the NWFA suggests consulting with a flooring professional to choose the right cleaning product. Sheet vinyl or tile floor-care products should not be used on either wood or laminate flooring.