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A beautiful floor is the showpiece of a home’s interior. If installed and maintained properly, good-quality flooring will add value to your home and bring years of enjoyment. Whether you have carpet, tile or vinyl, there are tricks and tips you can follow to make these flooring materials last for years.
Flooring materials differ, and so do their maintenance techniques. More regular cleaning is required in high-traffic areas of the home. Ceramic tile, vinyl, laminate and hardwood require regular damp mopping, while the grout between ceramic tiles also needs to be cleaned and sealed.
After installing ceramic tiles, scrub the tiles with an old toothbrush dipped in a water and vinegar solution to efficiently remove grout residue and assure a clean, shiny surface. One month after installation, seal the grout with a good-quality sealing product to keep it looking good for years to come.
With hardwood stairs becoming increasingly popular, there's a quick and easy way to achieve an expensive-looking staircase on a budget: oak tread and riser kits. Simply remove the old carpet from the stairs and glue the kit onto the original treads and risers. If your stairs have balusters, you will need to remove them and cut the ends to fit. These can then be glued back in place. Stain the wood and seal with a clear satin floor finish.
To avoid replacing an entire tiled floor – a big and expensive job – you can paint the tiles in the colour of your choice. Sand the tiles lightly and apply a porous primer. Let this dry thoroughly for a couple of days and then paint with a melamine-based paint.
Here's a way to remove a piece of cracked or damaged ceramic tile without using harsh chemicals. Heat the piece with a flat iron covered with a towel. The heated tile can then be pried out easily with a metal scraper and replaced with the substitute tile.
Foam rubber underlay is not easy to cut, particularly when it is thick. Spread the padding out on a flat surface and use an electric carving knife to cut it to the size required. You'll get the job done more quickly and with cleaner cutting lines.
To get rid of furniture marks on a rug, pass a steam iron over the mark without actually touching the rug. The steam will penetrate the rug, and after passing the vacuum cleaner over it a few times, the mark should disappear.
Just as a house is only as good as its foundation, a carpet will only perform well and last for years if it has good-quality padding underneath. The best products are made from rubber or foam. Underlay is important in a number of ways. First, it conceals minor imperfections in the subfloor so that the carpet has a uniform appearance. It also acts as a sound barrier and an insulating layer. But the most important role of underlay is to support the carpet, preventing the backing and fibres from pulling apart over the years.
Self-adhesive tiles are easy to install, even on a bare or painted concrete slab, as long as the surface is clean. Vacuum the floor with a shop vac, then scrub the surface with a stiff push broom and dish soap. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry completely before installing the tiles.
Laminate flooring is remarkably durable, but it can be chipped or scored by heavy furniture or appliances. For small repairs such as nicks or scratches, use a laminate repair kit, sold in most home improvement stores, or a wood filler stick in a matching colour. Damaged planks can be replaced, ideally using a left-over piece from the original flooring box. If you don't have a spare, exchange the damaged plank with one in an inconspicuous area such as a closet. Starting at the wall nearest the damaged piece, remove the baseboard. Lift the first few planks along the wall and pull them apart until you get to the damaged one. Replace this with the new or borrowed piece and rebuild the floor.
Before installing wood or laminate flooring, allow the planks to sit for 48 hours in the room to allow them to adjust to the temperature and moisture levels. This way, they should not expand and contract too much once in place. For vinyl and linoleum, leave the rolls in the room for a few hours at 20°C. They will then be much easier to roll out and to handle.
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