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Flooring Maintenance

by Marcus Pickett

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Proper floor maintenance is the key to keeping your floors looking and functioning like new as long as possible. Here's some tips, both universal and for different types of flooring, that you can undertake to keep your new floor in tip-top shape.

The Basics of Floor Maintenance

  • Lay down doormats at all the entrances into your home. Dirt, dust, sand, and grime are your floor's biggest enemies, regardless of the material you have. It wears down and scratches the finish on hardwood, tile, stone, laminate, and vinyl surfaces, and it dirties and stains new carpet. Since most of the dirt and grit in your home is brought in from the outdoors, one of the easiest things you can do to keep your floors looking great is to lay down some mats so dirt doesn't make it onto your floors in the first place.

  • Remove your shoes at the door. This seems overly simple, but when you consider that your shoes are the prime carriers of the above mentioned offenders, it's easy to see why making socks and bare feet the rule in your home is a good step to take in preserving your floor's original condition for a long time to come. Plus the best flooring maintenance is prevention.

  • Clean your floor regularly. Whether you have carpet, tile, hardwood, stone, or other surfaces, cleaning your floor on a regular basis is a must if you want to keep your floor in good shape. Vacuum carpets and sweep ceramic tile and laminates at least once a week. Get in the habit of doing it even more often if you go with less durable materials like stone and hardwood. If you have any polished stone flooring in your home, you'll want to sweep or mop once a day to keep that polish shining.

  • Wipe up spills immediately. Stains set in over time. The best way to avoid these blemishes is to address them as soon as they happen. For hard surfaces this means grabbing a paper towel or rag and wiping up messes before they have a chance to do damage. If you have carpet, gather up any solids first, then pour warm water over the stained area and soak up the stain, repeating as many times as is necessary until the stain is gone. Never scrub at a new stain in your carpet. Scrubbing only drives the stain deeper in the carpet and helps it to set into the material, making it more difficult to remove.

  • Apply extra protective treatments to your floor to prevent damage. Tile, stone, and hardwood can all be treated with an extra sealant or urethane coating to help prevent scratches and spills from damaging your floor. For carpet, treat it with stain guard or spend a little extra and get a stain resistant variety to begin with. With vinyl and linoleum floors, regular waxings will help to prevent wear and keep it looking newer longer.

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Quick-Fixes for Floor Maintenance
For chips in ceramic tile you have two options. The first, and best, option is replacing the blemished tile. This is a time consuming and difficult project, so you'll probably want to contact a tile repair specialist to make sure that it's done right. If your budget is tight, however, go down to your local drug store and find a bottle of nail polish that comes close to matching your tile color. It's not fool proof, and you may have to reapply the polish every once in a while to cover the imperfection, but it's a cheap solution for those who want to avoid a more costly repair.

If your hardwood floor has deep scratches in it and you're not ready to refinish just yet, a box of crayons is your answer. Find a shade of brown that matches your finish, remove the paper covering, and melt the crayon in the microwave until it is a putty-like consistency that you can use to fill the gash. Be careful when working with wax right out of the oven, however, as it can be very hot. Again, don't expect this quick-fix to look perfect, but it can help put off a larger refinishing job until your floor really needs it.

Flooring Maintenance Tips and Costs
Simple, do-it-yourself flooring maintenance is important in keeping your floor looking good, but so is calling in a professional once in a while. Carpets should be professionally cleaned once a year if you want them to stay in optimum condition. Wood flooring needs to be refinished as moisture and wear dictates, while tile floors will need to be cleaned, sealed, and/or re-grouted periodically. Here are some of the average costs for floor maintenance, collected from homeowners across the country. Keep in mind that depending on the size and condition of your floor, your project may not reflect these cost averages:

Refinish Wood Flooring: $1,705
Carpet Cleaning: $200
Clean and Maintain Tile: $466

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.