How to keep floors looking good

How to keep floors looking good


Posted 26th Jan 2012

Why buy a new floor when you can spruce up your existing one?

Old boards can be bleached and scrubbed, sanded and polished. Terracotta and slate tiles meanwhile can be resealed and burnished to a smooth, high gloss. And all you need to refresh the vibrancy of man-made materials like cork and vinyl, lino and laminate is soapy water and, in some cases, a little wax. Thanks to modern techniques, most surfacing will last for years. This includes even the finest materials like carpets and natural fibres. But to give them the best chance of a long life follow some simple care rules to ensure your floor is as easy on the eye as your feet.

Hard choices
Stone, slate and quarry tiles – Stone flags and tiles can be cleaned with a solution of water and washing-up liquid. When dry avoid over-polishing as the surface may become slippery. Unglazed quarry tiles should be mopped and treated with solid wax polish.

Ceramics and terracotta – Wipe ceramics with mild detergent and rinse with water before buffing with a cloth tied around a mop head. Avoid polish, which can make tiles slippery. Terracotta should be sealed with linseed oil and waxed with oil sealant.

Wood – Sealed wood only needs to be swept and damp mopped, but don’t use too much water as timber swells. Unsealed wood needs to be swept often and wax polished occasionally, but too much wax will leave a tacky surface and attract dirt.
Laminates, vinyl and lino – Sweep or vacuum surface grit and dust then clean with a mop damp with detergent. Use water sparingly and rinse after washing. Light burns from matches or cigarettes can be wiped off lino but will burn into most vinyls.


Carpet care
Few things are worse than a dirty carpet, so make sure you…

  • Use mats inside and outside of front and back doors to remove as much dirt and grit from your shoes as possible.
  • Vacuum carpets regularly – even the most spotless piles can have ingrained dirt that can damage fibres.
  • Clean up spills and stains as soon as they happen and call in a professional for a deep clean from time to time.
  • Always use a professional cleaning service for tricky surfaces like natural fibre, or use a DIY carpet cleaning solution.


Tip
Remove stains from soft drinks or tea and coffee with cold water mixed with washing powder or diluted vinegar.

Sand and shine
Polished floors look great, but sanding can be tricky if you haven’t done it before. And don’t forget to warn your neighbours before you fire up that noisy sanding machine...

  • Use pliers to remove carpet tacks and a nail punch to drive floorboard nails below the wood surface. Only then can you sand without shredding the paper by combining the use of a big drum sander and a smaller edging machine.
  • Sand with a coarse paper in diagonal, even sweeps to avoid gouging the wood. Wear a dust mask, gloves and earplugs and trail the cable over your shoulder. Then sand along the board length and grain with a finer paper.
  • Use the edging sander to reach the skirting boards and corners. Then apply up to three coats of varnish or wax along the grain of the wood, but don’t overpolish or you may slip. Modern varnishes and waxes are less slippery.


Tip
Check Yellow Pages or www.floorsanderhire.com for hiring machines, which cost from £35 a day for a sander with an edger and around £55 for a weekend

Wax Works
On waxed wood or stone floors, polish and dirt can build up over time. The only way to clean the surfaces is to remove the wax and start again

  • Wipe the floor surface with a cloth moistened with white spirit and let it soak in.
  • As the wax and dirt dissolve wipe them off gently with scrunched-up newspaper.
  • When the polish is off, wipe the floor with a mop dampened with soapy water.
  • Allow the floor to dry before applying new polish over small sections at a time.





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