Spills and scratches can damage laminate flooring, so it is important to determine where it will give satisfactory service.
Many people are currently choosing laminate flooring instead of traditional carpeting for their homes. Sometimes this choice is for decorative purposes; sometimes the issue of cleaning is a factor, especially if they have pets or children.
Although these floor coverings are known to be resilient to the everyday wear and tear of domestic life, care must still be taken to ensure that any damage done through spilled liquids or dropped objects does not drastically reduce the lifetime of the flooring.
As with most purchases, the consumer must be able to feel confident that he or she is buying the correct flooring for its intended function. He or she must also be made aware by the supplier that some laminate flooring may not be suitable for all household locations.
As with carpets, there is a wide variety of laminated floors to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Marks may not be visible on one laminate, but can be very visible on another. An example of this is scratches on the floor, caused by pets’ claws or women’s stiletto heels. Small scratches on a dark oak laminate could be very noticeable, whereas on a lighter beech-effect flooring, scratches may not be seen without close inspection.
Dragging, and not lifting, furniture across the floor can also cause scratches, with some flooring manufacturers suggesting the use of protective felt pads underneath furniture. However, if slight movement of furniture is likely to cause scratches, this raises concerns that the flooring is not fit for purpose.
In the home, a range of everyday liquids, for example drinks such as tea and red wine, are often present and could be spilled on a floor. If not treated quickly, such spills can leave permanent stains, which will detract from the appearance of the flooring. Spills are best dealt with by blotting (not rubbing) with an absorbent cloth or paper and wiping clean using a damp (not wet) cloth. This usually reduces any risk of leaving a permanent stain on the laminate. Over-wetting could cause damage within the structure of the floor, so care must be taken even when cleaning.
Some stubborn stains can be removed by applying a mild solvent solution that contains alcohol or acetone, but always remember to follow the instructions supplied with the flooring when bought. Using abrasive cleaners to remove stains could make the problem worse by causing permanent scratching.
Spillages and scratches are not the only types of damage that need to be considered. Objects may be dropped onto a floor and, whereas with a carpeted floor the object may simply bounce, on a laminate floor the impact could cause permanent damage. Although laminate flooring is tougher than most people expect, it is not indestructible.
EN 13329:2016 + A1:2017 specifies characteristics, requirements and test methods for laminate floor coverings. It includes a classification system based on EN ISO 10874, giving practical requirements for both areas and levels of use, indicating where laminate flooring will give satisfactory service for both domestic and commercial applications.
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