Laminate flooring distributors and manufacturers usually recommend against buffing laminate flooring, and with good reason. If you make a mistake by lingering over a particular spot too long or using a buffing pad that's too abrasive, you can do enough damage to require replacement of the laminate floor or at least part of it. The finish is hard, but the pattern layer underneath that contains the pattern is extremely thin, and if you wear through the finish, the pattern layer will be gone almost immediately.
The truth is that buffing a laminate floor isn't so risky that you should never consider it. The finish is extremely hard, and if you use a laminate floor buffer, which is a regular floor buffer with a mildly abrasive pad, the chances of wear-through are small. Buffing usually isn't necessary, though, unless you're preparing to use a laminate floor shine restoration product.
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You can buff your laminate floor occasionally, but it's risky to do so because you can ruin the pattern. No-sand laminate restoration products are another option to restore shine.
Restoring Shine to Laminate
No laminate finish, no matter how hard, stays shiny forever. Although you can preserve the shine for a long time with proper cleaning techniques, every floor needs restoration sooner or later. Several products on the market are designed for this, including Rust-Oleum Wood Floor Transformations, which is made for hardwood and laminate floors. It lets you restore the shine of the flooring without sanding or stripping the laminate.
Before you apply one of these restoration finishes, you need to clean the floor thoroughly. The first step is a no-sand refinishing prep solution that chemically abrades and cleans the floor. You scrub the floor, going with the grain, with the prep solution using the included scrub pad. When you're done, you'll wipe the floor with damp rags or a sponge mop to clean the surface. Next, you use the liquid soap in the kit (mixed with water) and apply it to small sections, after which you'll dry the surface.
Next, you'll apply the polyurethane clear floor finish to add the shine back to your laminate floor. Apply it with an applicator pad, working in small sections with the grain. After letting it dry for 2 hours, apply a second coat. When the second coat dries for 24 hours, you can resume normal use of the floor.
Buffers Aren't For Regular Maintenance
You should never have to use a buffing machine as part of regular laminate floor maintenance. The buffer won't remove smudges from the finish, and you never have to buff laminate floor polish because it's designed to shine on its own. Moreover, there shouldn't be any wax to buff because waxing a laminate floor is definitely a no-no, which is something upon which every floor care professional agrees.
If the floor is looking dull, the recommended way to bring the shine back is to use a commercial laminate floor cleaning and polishing product according to the instructions on the label. This treatment isn't needed very often — perhaps once every few years.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
A laminate floor cleaning regimen that will keep laminate floors looking their best involves a few easy steps:
- Vacuum frequently with a hardwood floor attachment. Don't use an attachment with a beater. It will scratch the finish.
- Sweep the floor with a soft-bristle broom to remove dirt and dust.
- Clean occasionally with a vinegar solution with a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to which you've added a drop or two of dish soap. Spray the mixture on the floor and mop immediately with a microfiber mop. You can also use window cleaner.
Avoid using abrasives, such as steel wool, to clean spots. You can remove most spots with vinegar and water or a rag moistened with acetone.