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How to Make Laminate Floors Shine Like New Again

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When installing a laminate floor, you assume it'll maintain its shiny look, but what happens when the floor turns dull or develops streaks? Fortunately, there's several tricks on how to make laminate floors shine. Laminate floors have a long list of good points, but unfortunately, if not cared for properly, they have a tendency to develop a dull or streaky appearance.

Laminate floors are popular because they provide excellent durability, look sharp, and are affordable for most homeowners. In a nutshell, they are an economical way of giving your home a wooden floor appearance. But over time, they often lose their shiny appearance. This article will show you how to make your laminate floors shine like new again.

Shiny laminate floor with 3 narrow windows

What is a Laminate Floor?

Laminate flooring may look as elegant as hardwood floors, but they typically costs a fraction of the price. This flooring is a composite material made with multiple layers. In fact, a laminate floor can have three or more layers depending on the manufacturer.

The base layer, often made of plywood or fingerboard, is why laminate flooring is so strong and durable.

On top of the base layer is a high-resolution print paper that's added to bring out the desired appearance of the floor planks. And the topmost layer is typically made of melamine resin which protects the floor from wear-and-tear and makes it easy to maintain.

Because laminate flooring contains wood fiber components, it's critical to treat it in the same manner as a hardwood floor. Since wood fibers readily absorb water, it's important to pay attention to how much water is used when cleaning the floor. 

Want to learn more about laminate flooring? Watch this video:

How to Make Laminate Floors Shine

It might surprise you to know that there are actually several different methods to getting a shine back on your laminate floors. The method you choose, really depends on your personal preference and the amount of money you want to spend.

The first method uses vinegar and water and requires a bit more elbow grease, but it's not that difficult. The process will strip all the cleaner residue from your laminate floor surface, and leave it looking shiny and new. And the best part, you won't need to spend much money!

The second option, is especially good for older laminate floors, although it does require the purchase a few supplies. You'll actually be adding a polish to the floor.

Vinegar and Water Method

If your laminate floor has a dull look, it's most likely from a build-up of the cleaning products. This inexpensive method will help make your laminate floors shine again.

You'll need a bucket, some white vinegar, and a few clean towels.

Here's what to do:

Step One - Get a bucket of warm water and add about a 1/2-cup of white vinegar.

Step Two - Soak a clean towel in the water and vinegar mix, then wring it out so its damp, but not dripping wet.

Step Three - Take a section of the floor and wipe it down with your damp towel.

Step Four - Then immediately use a dry, clean towel to dry the area.

Step Five - Move to the next section and repeat until you've finished the entire floor.

Watch the Video

Polish Method

If you choose to follow the polish method, you'll need to purchase a laminate floor polish. We recommend the Bona Floor Polish which is designed for laminate floors as well as other hard surfaces such as tile and stone.

You'll also need an applicator pad like the Bona Application Pad or something similar. If you don't already have a floor mop, you might want to pick up the Bona Micro Fiber Floor Mop, which comes with a variety of cleaning pads.

Before polishing, it's always a good idea to start with clean floors, so you may want to consider cleaning your floors with the Bona Floor Cleaner before applying the polish. 

Here's what to do:

Step One - Place the applicator pad under a stream of water until its wet. Then wring it out to remove all excess water. The applicator pad should only be damp. Place the applicator pad on the base of the floor mop.

Step Two - Mix the Bona Floor Polish by gently turning it up and down. Vigorous shaking will cause bubbles.

Step Three - Apply the Bona Floor Polish onto the floor in a back and forth pattern. Use a fair amount of product.

Step Four - Drag your floor mop against the grain of the laminate flooring to ensure that all of the polish is spread over the floor. The floor should look very wet.

Step Five - After the polish has been worked into the floor, drag the floor mop towards you so that you are moving the grain of the floor. This should pull any access polish to you.

Step Six - Working in small segments, repeat the process until you have applied polish to your entire floor.

Step Seven - Do not walk on the floor for at least 2 hours, and do not move any furniture onto the floor for at least 24 hours.

Watch the Video

4 Reasons Laminate Floors Look Dull and/or Streaky

Laminate floors are known for their great aesthetic value, so it's not great to see them turn dull or streaky. Understanding why this happens will help you prevent it in the future.

Let's take a look at the four main reasons your laminate floor is dull or streaky:

Cleaner Build-up

This is the most common reason laminate floors lose their shine. If too much cleaner is used over time it'll build-up on the floor and leave a residue that makes it look dull or streaky.

Laminate is a low-maintenance flooring that can be cleaned sufficiently with just a few drops of mild dish soap and clean water. Or if you prefer to use a cleaner, make sure you use a cleaner that's designed specifically for laminate floors, and follow the manufacturers recommendations.

There are several good laminate floor cleaners available. The cleaners by Black Diamond and Bona are both excellent choices.

Keep in mind, that if you use heavier cleaners, they'll leave a residue behind, which will form streaks and reduce the shine on your floor.

Pro Tip: To avoid streaking, wipe the floor completely dry after mopping. This will remove the leftover cleaning products.

Incorrect Technique

You might be surprised to learn that there actually is a right and wrong way to clean laminate flooring, and using the wrong technique will leave your floors with poor results.

We'll go into more detail on this below, but for now, here's how to correctly clean your floors:

Sweep - Always sweep away the surface dirt before mopping the floor. Use a dry, soft cloth that won't spread the dirt or dust around.

Mop - Use a damp mop to wipe the floor. Ensure that the mop isn't dripping wet. Excess water can seep through laminate flooring and cause stains or even damage the boards.

Buff - If you have time, buff your floor with a dry towel. This will prevent cleaner build-up.

Incorrect Cleaning Tools

Everything you use on your laminate floor should be soft, from the broom to the mop.

The microfiber mop by Bona is a great choice, as it comes with several cleaning pads that will trap the dust, dirt and grit without spreading it to other areas of the house. 

Using hard bristled brooms or rough cloth mops will leave you with a streaky floor plus scratches that ruin the laminate's finish.

Bona Premium Microfiber Floor Mop, Includes Microfiber Cleaning Pad and Microfiber Dusting Pad

Bona Microfiber Mop

Using a microfiber mop, like this one by Bona is an excellent way to keep your laminate floors clean and shiny.

Sun Spots

If your floor has an area exposed to strong sunlight, it's highly likely that it'll fade faster than other sections, and ultimately leave the spot with a dull look. 

One easy solution is to draw the curtains during the time when the sun is beating down on the floor. Another option that might work, depending upon where the sun is hitting the floor, is to place a mat or rug on the spot.

Do whatever you can to keep the sun off the floor. This will help protect your laminate flooring from prematurely aging.

Dust mop cleaning laminate floor

How to Clean Laminate Floors 

Knowing how to clean your laminate floor properly is the key to keeping them from developing streaks or becoming dull. Proper cleaning can also restore the shiny appearance if it's already dull or streaky. Here's what to do:

Step One - Wipe Away the Surface Dirt

Begin by wiping any dust, dirt, pet hair, food particles, or other grit using a dry dust mop. The goal is to clear the floor so that there won't be any streaks formed from dirt lying around when you come with a wet mop.

This also prevents instances where grit scratches your laminate floor when you're mopping. Wiping away the dust first makes the rest of the process much faster, plus, you'll have an easier time achieving the shiny look you're after.

Step Two - Spray the Laminate Cleaner

A laminate cleaner is especially made to clean laminate flooring. It's a mild cleaner, and doesn't contain harsh chemicals.

Spray the cleaner sparingly on the area you're cleaning. Avoid using too much, even when the floor looks extra dirty.

If your floor has tough stains, that's when you can bring in supplies such as white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. 

Use rubbing alcohol to spot-clean paint, ink, crayon, or nail polish stains. With other stains, white vinegar will suffice. If a stain has dried on the floor, gently remove it by using a plastic scraper.

Step Three - Use a Damp Mop

After spraying the laminate cleaner, it's time to mop. The secret is to use a damp mop, but make sure the mop isn't wet.

Since laminate floors are vulnerable to moisture damage, it's important to avoid exposing the floor to water as much as possible. Water seeps through the planks and can cause them to swell. The damage will be irreversible. 

For this reason, you should only use a clean damp mop that glides softly on the floor.

Step Four - Buff to Shine

Once you've finished mopping the floor, you'll want to buff it dry with a clean, dry cloth. This serves two purposes:

  1. It ensures the floor is completely dry and that there's no water or product residue left behind that could cause a dull finish.
  2. This is how to make laminate floors shine naturally.

Simply rub the cloth in a circular motion, drying it thoroughly. As with the mops and brooms, the cloth should not have any rough fibers that scratch the laminate. 

Dog laying on a shiny laminate floor

How to Keep Laminate Floors Shiny

Keeping your laminate floors shiny is a relatively straightforward task and requires very little effort. Below you'll find some do's and don'ts that'll help maintain the laminate floor's attractive finish and appearance.

Dust Mop Your Floor Daily

Every day, dust and dirt gather on your floor. This is especially true if you have kids and pets around, but even if you don't, grit will always find a way inside your house. Failure to regularly dust mop your floors can cause damage to laminate flooring.

When you have people walking over a dirty floor, the chances of having it scratched are high. Dust mopping your floor daily is an easy way to prevent damage. You don't need to dust mop your entire house daily, only the areas with high foot traffic.

Follow Cleaning Instructions

Laminate floors contain materials that require special care in order to maintain their appearance. For example, the topmost layer contains melamine, which can be easily damaged by acidic or abrasive cleaners. 

The base material is comprised of plywood and can be damaged by excessive water.

However, it's important to note that not all laminate floors are made the same. So it's vital to clean your floor according to the manufacturer's suggestions.

Your laminate flooring should come with instructions about which products to use and which to avoid. Following the manufacturer's suggestions will help your laminate flooring from losing its shine, as well as preventing you from doing anything that could undermine the floorings quality and durability.

Avoid Abrasive Cleaning Products and Tools

Using abrasive cleaners and tools is one way to ruin your laminate floor quickly. These products can cause scratches on the protective layer of the floor, and could eventually lead to staining and water damage.

Harsh products can also react with the upper layer of the flooring, speeding up its wear.

Avoid both of these if you want your floor to remain smooth and shiny. Instead always use products and cleaning supplies that are gentle on your floor.

Clean-up Spills and Stains ASAP

Laminate floors have a tendency to absorb water and liquids quickly. Therefore, it's critical to clean-up any spills or stains as soon as they happen. If you leave them to sit for long, they'll seep into the floor layers, and could be impossible to remove.

Use a mild soap solution and a clean cloth to wipe the affected area to remove the stain. You can also use rubbing alcohol or white vinegar, depending on the type of spill or stain.

If you have pets, you should be extra vigilant about spills at their feeding areas. The best way to stay ahead, in this case, is by placing rugs beneath feeding bowls. That way, even if they spill water or food, it won't fall directly onto the laminate floor.

However, don't forget to clean beneath the rugs frequently as pet hair, food, and dirt has a tendency to gather there.

Watch the Video

Other Maintenance Tips for Laminate Floors

Other than the daily dose of dust and dirt, other things can contribute to dulling, staining, and scratching a laminate floor. Identifying these things and guarding against them is the only sure way to maintain the floor's shine.

Here's a few things to keep in mind:

Use Furniture Pads

There's a good chance your laminate floor will scratch when moving furniture. This can be avoided by using furniture pads under the feet of your furniture to avoid the friction caused when moving it from one place to another. This is especially true if you move your furniture around frequently. 

Trim Your Pets' Nails

Your pets hair is not the only thing you should be concerned about. If your pet has long nails, then chances are they're going to end up scratching your laminate floors and could even cause severe damage.

To prevent this, simply trim their nails, so they don't pose a risk to your floors. This tip will not only protect your floors, but could also save your furniture and other vulnerable surfaces.

Beware of House Plants

House plants are great additions to any indoor space for a variety of reasons, but they can wreak havoc on your laminate flooring if you're not careful.

Plants can ruin your floor if their pots or containers are leaking. It's important to frequently check the containers to ensure they're intact and won't allow any moisture onto the floor. Placing the containers on a tray or saucer will offer another level of protection to the upper layer of your laminate flooring.

You can also place the containers on rugs for this exact reason. A rug will absorb any moisture or sap from the leaves and ensure that the floor remains dry.

Next, avoid dragging the plant containers on the floor. Dragging them can easily cause scratches, so it's better to lift and carry them from one place to another when moving them around.

Lady and Kitten on a Laminate Floor

Final Thoughts

A high-quality laminate floor can keep your house looking elegant for many years, but only if you maintain it properly.

Here are the most important things about caring for a laminate floor:

  • Avoid exposure to water
  • Avoid harsh chemicals 
  • Avoid abrasive cleaning supplies

A damp mop with clean water and mild soap followed by a buff will give you the shiny clean look you desire. Although, you can add a polish if you like.

Remember, reading and following your manufacturer's recommendations for your specific laminate floor is always your best choice.

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