Welcome to the latest addition of tips at Toscana
Toscana Remodeling loves to educate consumers on their many flooring and remodeling options. If you have a question or a topic that you want discussed, send us an email and we’ll provide our feedback. The topic for this month focuses on cleaning wood and tile floors…
Cleaning Engineered Wood Floors
Toscana’s engineered wood floors add a beautiful touch to any room. I think you would agree that beutiful things are meant to be kept beautiful. Here’s how you keep an engineered hardwood floor clean and prosporous:
Before you grab a bucket of water and a mop, you must account for how your floor is sealed, if it is sealed at all. Why? Because it’s the finish, not the wood type, that determines how you should clean and care for your floor.
Surface floors are sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic to make them stain and water-resistant. The classic combination of soap and water will successfully clean them. Plain soap is mild enough to where it won’t dull or scratch the finish like other abrasive cleaners will. All you must do is add a quarter cup of dishwashing soap to a bucket of water and start mopping. Make sure you completely wring out the mop before using it on your floors. Even if a wood floor is sealed, excessive water will harm it. DO NOT POUR WATER DIRECTLY ONTO THE FLOOR.
Pro-tip: Use distilled water instead of tap if you want to prevent streaks on the floors.
Also, it’s important to note that a penetrating seal or oil finish will soak into the wood grain and harden. That’s why your floor needs to be pampered and protected with liquid or paste wax.
Although they are technically surface finishes, lacquers, varnishes and shellacs are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear as the other sealants mentioned. It’s best to treat floors with those types of finishes (or floors with no finish) with liquid or paste wax as well.
Not sure what kind of finish you have? To find out, just rub your finger across the floor. If no smudge appears, the floor is surface sealed. If a smudge does appear, the floor has been treated with either a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish or lacquer.
DON’TS for surface-sealed floors
- Don’t use oils, waxes or furniture sprays. Oil leaves a residue and furniture spray creates a slippery surface. Wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult. I tried to suprise my mom when I was a little girl by waxing our floor. Apparently that was a bad idea because she was NOT happy! I was maybe six year old? How was I supposed to know waxing a wood floor was a no no?!
- Don’t use ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners. They’ll dull and scratch the finish.
- Don’t rely on water by itself or a vinegar/water solution to clean hardwood floors. Mopping with water will result in dingy-looking floors and it won’t fight dirt buildup like you would hope. The vinegar/water combination is not as effective as water with saop. Some experts suggest vinegar and water will dull floors at a quicker rate. (Eventual dullness and the need to re-coat are inevitable no matter which ingredients you use.)
In high-traffic areas, like the dining room and kitchen, it’s recommended that you sweep daily and mop once or twice a week. You can mop low-traffic areas once a month or once a season.
HOW TO MOP HARDWOOD FLOORS
Remember: Water is wood’s worst enemy (even on sealed floors!), so use a damp mop rather than a soaking wet one.
Dip the mop into the bucket of prepared cleaning solution, wring it out completely, mop in the direction of the wood grain, and repeat. When the water gets dirty, empty the bucket, mix a new batch of cleaning solution and continue mopping.
When finished, go back over the entire surface with clean water to rinse.
Don’t be afraid to get on your hands and knees if necessary. When a floor needs serious attention, clean it with a cloth. A cloth is better than a sponge because you can “feel” the dirt as you wipe.
Another tip for cleaning wood… use tea
Believe it or not, tea is not only good for drinking. You can clean wood with it too! Freshly brewed tea is great for cleaning wood furniture and floors. Just boil a couple of tea bags in a quart (liter) of water and let it cool. Dip a soft cloth in the tea, wring out the excess, and use it to wipe away dirt and grime. Buff dry with a clean, soft cloth and you’re done!
Cleaning Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Floors
Ceramic and porcelain tile floors are incredibly durable. To protect their durability, it’s important you keep harmful bacteria from settling on the surface and water from seeping through the surface. Here’s the simple process we follow for cleaning ceramic and porcelain:
- Clean up loose debris: Sweep or vacuum your tile floors regularly to keep them from becoming dull. Ceramic tiles may be resistant to dirt, but sand and grit can dull the glazed surfaces.
- Choose the right floor mop: Clean your tile with mild detergent and clean water using a rag or chamois-type mop. Rag and chamois-style mops are best for cleaning tile because they don’t push dirty water into the grout lines like sponge mops do. Be sure to change the water frequently while mopping; dirty water results a cloudy floor.
- Watch for soap residue: If your tiles look hazy even after they’ve been cleaned, you might be dealing with soapy residue. Just remove the film with a nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner. You could also try a homemade cleaner with mild acid, such as fresh lemon juice. That should work well on ceramic and porcelain tiles (but never on stone tiles).
- Dry your tiles: Don’t let your glazed tile floors air-dry or else the sitting water will form water spots. You can avoid water spots by drying the floor with a clean, lint-free cloth immediately after washing.
How to Clean Stone Tile Floors
Be cautious when you’re working with natural stone tile like slate, granite or marble. Chemicals in traditional cleaners can damage such surfaces. Instead, clean your stone tiles with cleaners made specifically for natural stone.
Cleaning Slate: You can use a mild detergent as long as it doesn’t contain acidic properties, such as lemon or vinegar. If your slate tile is coated, avoid water spots by drying the tile right away with a soft towel.
Cleaning Marble: Marble makes stunning tile, but it’s also very high-maintenance. Avoid cleaning marble tile with anything that has an acidic PH level. Cleaners with lemon or vinegar should be avoided, as they can etch the surface. Also, stay away from anything that may scratch the marble, such as brushes with tough bristles or scouring powders.
Cleaning Granite: Like slate and marble, granite tile needs to be cleaned with a mild detergent that is pH-neutral. A harsh cleaner risks leaving streaks or discoloration on the tile. You may also want to buff a polished granite floor to keep it looking shiny and clean.
How to Clean Resilient Tile Floors
Made from materials like linoleum, vinyl, cork and rubber, resilient tile is a great option if you want a surface that’s easy on the feet and needs minimal maintenance. Here are a few tips to for cleaning your resilient tile floor:
Vinyl Tile: This super resilient flooring type is easy to maintain. Simply sweep or vacuum up debris, and mop with a vinyl cleaning solution, or water and vinegar. Never use an abrasive cleaner or scrubbing tool on vinyl because it will scratch the surface.
Linoleum Tile: Though it’s often mistaken for vinyl flooring, linoleum is actually very different and has specific cleaning requirements. After sweeping or vacuuming, wash the linoleum tile with linoleum flooring cleaning solution, or borax and water. Rinse, clean, and dry! To protect your linoleum floors, apply a coat of wax or liquid wax and buff it to a shine every 3 to 6 months.