Maintaining Your New Carpet or Floor Covering: Avoiding Common Post-Installation Mistakes

New flooring is one of the quickest ways to transform a room and add both beauty and value to your home. It can also be a big investment. So how can you protect your investment and help ensure your new floors stay looking great in your busy home? It all starts with the proper care.

To help protect your new flooring from damage and early signs of wear, following are some common post-installation mistakes to avoid.

Hardwood, Laminate, and Vinyl Flooring Care:

  • Mistake #1: Not using flooring protectors under furniture – One of the biggest issues affecting hard flooring surfaces are scratches, especially those caused by furniture such as kitchen chairs and tables that are regularly moved back and forth across the flooring. To help protect floors from scratches, there are many products available that can either be placed under or mounted to furniture legs. These range from simple self-adhesive felt pads and rubber gripers to swivel glides and rolling casters. But even when used properly, flooring protectors are not foolproof. Many popular felt-adhesive products will wear over time and may fall off or rip, especially when placed on chairs that get frequent use. Dirt and grit can also get trapped in the felt or felt adhesives and can accumulate on rubber and other types of casters. So it’s always important to check furniture often to ensure that protectors are securely in place and dirt free.
  • Mistake #2: No walk-off mats at entryway doors – Another cause of damage to new floors is tracked-in moisture, dirt, and debris from the outdoors. Walked-in dirt and grit can act like sandpaper, quickly abrading your new flooring’s surface. Protect floors by not only placing walk-off mats inside and outside all exterior exits, but also sweep, clean, and replace mats often to avoid dirt buildup. If mats become mud soiled or wet, remove them from floors immediately to avoid moisture damage.
  • High heels on wood floorMistake #3: Walking on floors in high-heeled shoes – Walking on hard flooring surfaces in high-heeled shoes (stiletto heels), athletic footwear with spikes, or shoes that can trap dirt, such as those with lugged or damaged soles, can also easily scratch or dent flooring. Likewise, pets with sharp nails or claws can scratch your flooring’s surface. Establishing a “no shoes” rule and ensuring your pet’s nails are properly trimmed are two easy ways to help extend the long-lasting beauty of your new flooring.
  • Mistake #4: Wet mopping floors – Excess moisture that seeps beneath your floor can cause the boards to swell and buckle, especially with hardwoods and laminate floors. For this reason, it is never recommended to soak floors by wet mopping. Instead, regularly sweep, dust mop, or vacuum floors with a soft brush head or attachment. For hard-to-remove stains or debris, damp mopping is acceptable, but only use manufacturer-approved cleaners and thoroughly ring out the mop or applicator before applying it to the floor’s surface. Always wipe up any spills promptly with a soft, dry cloth.

Carpet Care:

  • Vacuum cleaner on carpetMistake #1: Not vacuuming frequently – Just as tracked in dirt and debris can scratch hard flooring surfaces, it can also abrade carpet fibers, causing carpet to look dull and worn. Most manufacturers recommend vacuuming carpet often – typically, at least once a week for carpet that is in a high-traffic area such as a family room, hallways, or stairs. For best results, use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar or rotating brush and a strong air flow that will penetrate deep into the carpet backing. However, some carpets, such as those made of wool or wool blends and thick loop piles, may become fuzzy from excessive brushing. For these fibers, a suction-only vacuum is better, or adjust your vacuum height so that the beater brush is lifted well above the carpet.
  • Mistake #2 Using carpet shampooers to clean carpets – Most carpet manufacturers recommend that homeowners professionally clean carpets at least every 12 to 24 months. But not all carpet cleaning methods are the same. Avoid using carpet shampooers, such as those available for rent at your local grocery or hardware store. These shampooers typically use detergents with harsh chemicals that often leave behind residue that can actually cause carpets to look dull and worn quickly after they are cleaned. Instead, most manufacturers recommend a professional hot water extraction cleaning. With this method, a high-powered machine propels a mixture of hot water and cleaning solution onto the carpet, sanitizing the carpet as it loosens embedded debris. Then, the machine’s powerful vacuum removes the solution, along with the loosened debris. Hot water extraction not only produces a cleaner carpet, it also requires a much milder cleaning solution that does not leave behind residue and is safer for your family and pets.

For More Information

With any new flooring, it’s always important to read and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and use only those cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. In most cases, failing to do so will not only impact your flooring’s long-term performance but may also void the manufacturer’s warranty.

At Olson Rug & Flooring, we are always happy to answer your questions regarding the proper care of your flooring. Feel free to ask our flooring experts. Or stop by or call one of our nine Chicago-area showrooms.

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