Floor coverings cost serious money so options to renovate and repair have obvious appeal. Regular cleaning is the best defence for any floor surface but if your floor is showing signs of wear, there may be a renovation option that can help you avoid complete replacement.
Repairing vinyl and laminate flooring
Vinyl and laminate floors are great for high traffic, dirt-attracting areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. They will welcome the use of gentle, purpose-specific cleaning agents on a regular basis but when spring cleaning time comes around there are more extensive treatments that include repairing small areas of wear and damage.
Vinyl tiles are easy to repair because it's fairly simple to pull up a damaged tile – as long as you have a replacement one available. You will be in luck if the tiles were originally applied with adhesive just around the edges. If the adhesive is all over the tile then removal will be more difficult and time consuming, but usually not impossible. Be careful to avoid damaging the underlay – there's no need to add to the workload – and clean away old adhesive from the surface before starting to lay the replacement tile.
Small scratches in sheet vinyl floors can be repaired by fusing with liquid seam sealer. You can purchase this wherever you purchase the flooring itself and once applied, it's barely visible. A tear or hole may require careful cutting out of the damaged area and replacement. Again, this will only work if you have replacement material available. If you didn't keep spare off-cuts when the floor was laid, check to see if there's an inconspicuous patch of vinyl (under furniture such as a fridge or washer) which you can repurpose without it being obvious. Taking action before tears and holes become too large is important, both for your own safety and because if it gets out of hand, a whole new floor may be unavoidable.
Rejuvenating timber floors
Timber floors will absorb a lot of love and there's nothing quite like the patina of age on wood. Hard sealed timber floors will respond to a gentle sanding and reapplication of glossy protection every few years or as needed. Polished but unsealed boards can be refreshed with tung oil or a mixture of tung oil and resin, available from hardware stores. Tung oil is tough and water resistant and can be used over polyurethane coatings to give a traditional look with great protection.
The hugely popular floating floors are available both in synthetic and real timber materials. Timber floating floors are not quite like their traditional counterparts. They are coated at the factory with a vinyl, urethane or polyester coating, while the laminate versions which look like timber are actually completely synthetic, with the timber design printed on to the surface. In low traffic areas, the final factory finish will protect these materials from everyday wear but in high traffic or commercial traffic settings, an additional coating, applied after installation, is recommended. This extra protection can be reapplied as needed. Regular mopping of floating floor surfaces with a pH neutral cleaner is recommended to extend their life and keep them fresh and vibrant.
No matter what the style of your home, there's a good chance you've got a carpeted room in there somewhere. Regardless of whether it's a wool or synthetic carpet, or a mixture of both, professional carpet cleaners advise that investing in a good vacuum cleaner, one that lifts the pile to pick up grime and grit, will add years to the life of your carpet. The same advice applies to rugs.
The National Upholstery and Carpet Cleaners Association recommends dealing with spots and stains on both rugs and carpets as quickly as possible, and to avoid over-wetting or rubbing of a stained area because too much of either can lead to permanent staining or pile distortion. Another great tip from the Association is to place extra matting in entry areas. By using either a piece of the same carpet with bound edges or an indoor entry mat of another material you can protect heavy traffic areas from signs of wear.
And the big tip for carpets? Get the experts in regularly (some say every six months but certainly every year) and when you do, check their credentials. This is an industry that is unregulated in Australia so consumer advocates such as Choice recommend choosing members of an association to give you peace of mind about their expertise and service.
There are great resources on the internet, including step by step instructions, and excellent free advice to be had from the professionals at flooring showrooms on how to keep your flooring looking its best for as long as possible. Make the most of it and protect your investment.