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Friday, May 13, 2011

Hardwood Floors

First, check the legs of all furniture to see if the floor protectors need to be replaced. Replace as needed. It is now time for a thorough sweeping or vacuuming of your floors. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar or hard head on hardwood floors. The plastic and/or metal parts can scratch the floor. The vacuum head should be brush or felt; a wand attachment is preferable.

Be careful as you move furniture and appliances. Do not drag heavy pieces. You may need to use large pieces of cardboard or something similar to move the heavier items onto to protect the floors underneath. Many people move the refrigerator to clean behind and under it as part of their spring cleaning. Do not merely roll the refrigerator out. The weight of the refrigerator can easily indent the floor. You need to move the refrigerator onto something so that you are not rolling it directly on the floor. Use a large piece of cardboard, a thin piece of plywood, or a piece of carpet with the fiber side down. We have seen more damage done to hardwood floors from moving a refrigerator than from any other cause.

Damp mop as needed using a hardwood floor mop and approved hardwood floor cleaner (do not use oil, wax, or ammonia based cleaners as they will dull the finish and performance of your floor. These products will also affect the ability to recoat your floor later.)

Since wood naturally expands when it is wet, never wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor. Large amounts of water can cause the wood to swell and may cause your floor to crack or splinter.

TIP: Just because something says it is for hardwood floors does not mean it should be used on the floor. Read the ingredients carefully. We are amazed by what various internet sources state to clean wood floors with. Do NOT use Orange Glo, Goof Off, steam mops, Windex, ammonia, dish soap, Pledge, vinegar, Pine Sol, Mr. Clean, Mop and Glo, bubble bath, Rejuvenate, tea, Simple Green, or similar products. Only use cleaners made by wood flooring manufacturers like Armstrong, Mohawk, or Bona.

Use good quality doormats at all of your exterior doors. Replace as needed.

Now is also a good time to look closely at your hardwood floors to determine if it is time for another coat of polyurethane. Start with the areas that get the most foot traffic. Are these areas duller than the wood in areas that do not get as much traffic? Do you see light scratches in the finish? If you can see superficial scratches and the traffic lanes are visible, it is time to recoat your wood floors. Most floors are in need of another coat of polyurethane every five years or so; in some homes, another coat may be needed every 12-18 months. If you wait too long, a screen and coat will not be effective; the floors will need to be refinished.

Laminate Floors

There is not much that you need to do to a laminate floor as part of your spring cleaning. Vacuum thoroughly and clean using the product made or recommended by the manufacturer of your floor. Check the felt tips on the legs of your furniture and replace as needed. If you are moving the refrigerator or other heavy pieces, do not drag or roll the items. This can damage a laminate floor. Be sure to use a large piece of cardboard, a thin piece of plywood, or a piece of carpet with the fiber side down. Replace your exterior door mats if needed, and just enjoy how easy it is to maintain your laminate floor!

Exterior Doors

At least once a year, check your exterior doors for possible water penetration. Check the weather stripping for tears and deterioration. Check the sills and exterior thresholds for damage. Is caulking needed? Can you see daylight through the door? If you can see light through the door, water can also get through, especially with a blowing rain. Sometimes this water gets under your floors without you noticing it until the damage is done. Thousands of dollars in damage can be caused by water penetration.

Ceramic & Porcelain Tile

Ceramic tile and porcelain are very easy to clean. Sweep or vacuum as needed and mop with a mild detergent (like Spic-N-Span or Mr. Clean) or ceramic tile cleaner. Don't use harsh abrasives.

Now it is time to seal your grout. Sealing your grout will make the grout less porous and more resistant to discoloration. Manufacturers recommend sealing your grout once a year to keep it looking its best. You can purchase grout sealer at Enhance Floors & More.

Also check any caulking. Caulking is used where the tile is exposed to water. Caulking prevents expensive subsurface damage. Recaulk wet areas as needed.

TIP: Don't use bleach or ammonia based cleaners, as these products can discolor your grout.

Natural Stone Tile

Natural stone (travertine, marble, etc.) should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Never clean with any product containing acid, lemon or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will eventually etch and damage natural stone

At lease once a year you need to seal the tile and grout. Some products are multi-purpose, meaning you can use the same product on the stone and the grout. Others are just for either the stone or the grout; be sure to read the instructions well, to make sure you are using the proper product.

TIP: Don't use generic cleaning products such as bleach, glass cleaner or degreasers. Don't use vinegar, ammonia, lemon or orange as cleaners. These products that you buy at your local store contain acids, alkalis, and other chemicals that can etch marble and degrade the sealer, leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining. Trying to save money by using these over-the-counter products only ensured that you'll send a lot more time and money in the long run!