Once your new laminate floors are installed, a few tips on how to care for them so that they continue to look beautiful and give good service, may be in order. Like most people who opt for these synthetic boards, you chose them not just for their good looks alone but also because they have a reputation for being exceptionally tough and well able to stand up to the kind of punishment that alternative surfaces are unable to match for a comparable price.
Neither, of course, will that decision have been based wholly on the exceptional value for money offered by these composite surfaces. It is, in fact, quite likely that the shear ease with which these multi-layered products can be maintained will also have played a significant role in your decision making. It is, however, important to note that ease of maintenance does not mean that nor is necessary and, although it may take a little longer than with some of the alternatives, if neglected for long enough, they will definitely begin to start showing the tell-tale signs of premature aging.
Assuming that you installed a quality one of the wide range of world-class products available from most Top Carpets & Floors stores those tips on how to care for your laminate floors could prove invaluable. Typically our products carry a guarantee of between 10 and 20 years but, as one might expect, such an undertaking must always be contingent upon the purchaser caring for the product according to the recommendations defined by the manufacturer.
At Top Carpets & Floors, we pride ourselves not just on our excellent products and expert workmanship but also on our exceptional customer support. Any of our trained consultants will be happy to explain in detail the best practices required for caring for your specifically chosen product but in the meantime, the following general guidelines should prove to be of value for use with any of the high quality composite surfaces offered through our more than 110 nationwide retail outlets.
Caring begins with the installation. Left to our professionals this will never be a problem but if you should decide to install them yourself, meticulous preparation is paramount. First you need to prepare the sub-floor so that it is totally free of dust, gritty particles, cracks and bumps all of which can, over time, result in damage to the boards from below. Another of the tips on how to care for your laminate floors that may be overlooked also applies to the installation stage. It is important for the boards to become acclimatised to their intended location so leave them, unpacked in your room for about 48 hours before starting the installation. Failure to include this step could see the boards expanding more than allowed for and result in some distortion.
Yes your new composite surface is tough but it is not indestructible and certain basic precautions are needed from the moment your family begins to walk on it. Sharp, sandy particles that adhere to your outdoor shoes could scratch your new surfaces, especially under the weight of a heavy adult. It makes sense then to provide a rug at the entrance of any door that connects to the outside and to ensure that those outdoor shoes are either removed or exchanged for slippers. This simple precaution could see your boards retain their gleaming, showroom finish for a lifetime.
One of the tips on how to care for your laminate floors that often surprises is that, because the shine is built into the tough resin wear layer, no polish or buffing will ever be required. So, don’t even think about buying the kind of expensive rotary polisher you might use on a natural wooden surface, the same vacuum cleaner that you normally use for your carpets will work just fine. In fact, for routine daily use, a quick once-over with a vacuum cleaner or even a soft broom should be fine as, generally, surface dirt does not become ingrained but remains easily accessible.
Perhaps, once a week, or whenever you have an accidental spill, you can clean with a damp, but not wet, cloth or mop and finish off with a dry one. Commercial cleaning preparations for composite surfaces are available, but it is wise to consult your flooring supplier about what may be best for your particular product. Top Carpets & Floors also offer expert tips on how to care for your laminate floors.
Some Simple Guidelines
In order to determine just how much product you must order, you will first need to gain some insight into how to measure up the room you have earmarked for some new laminate flooring. The size of the individual planks may vary both in width and in length according to the manufacturer but they will normally be supplied in packs that are designed to cover a stated area. Only by knowing, as accurately as possible, the area that you wish to be covered is it possible to be sure of exactly how many such packs will be required.
For a strictly square or rectangular room, determining its length and its breadth is simple enough as is multiplying the two figures together so as to determine its area. Appearances can be deceptive however and often walls are not precisely parallel. For this reason, in the case of these regularly shaped rooms, rather than simply using the dimensions from a single pair of adjacent walls, it may pay to check the lengths of all four walls, using the two longest when calculating the area. Incidentally, you should be sure to lay your tape flush with the appropriate wall throughout each operation.
Another simple but significant pointer about how to measure for laminate flooring is to be careful not to mix your units. As a general rule it is safest to stick to metres so that following multiplication you arrive at an area in square metres; the same form that is normally used by the manufacturer to express the coverage provided by the contents of a single pack of planks.
A lot of modern rooms are built to fairly standard sizes and the walls are of lengths in whole metres making calculation simple. So, for instance rooms of 4 x 4 metres or 5 x 4 metres would correspond to areas of 16m2 and 20m2 respectively. Where the width or length includes a part of metre it should be expressed as a decimal prior to multiplication so a room that is 4 metres and 48 centimetres wide should be entered into your calculator as 4.48 (metres). If we take the example of a rectangular room that with walls of 4.48 by 5.24 we obtain an area of 23.475. This figure bears no relationship to actual pack sizes and, the first step should be to round it up to the nearest square metre, in this case, the revised figure will be 24m2.
More often than not, in learning how to measure up for your laminate flooring, you will find yourself dealing with rooms that are not regular in shape. There may be recesses or bay windows that add to the basic rectangular area and there can also be protrusions such as fireplaces and island counters that subtract from it. While you should be careful not to overlook them, adjusting for their effect should not present a problem.
Begin by ignoring them and determining the area of the rectangular portion.
Thereafter, the golden rule is to treat each irregularity as if it were also a perfect rectangle adding it to or subtracting it from the main rectangular component. So, for instance, though the additional space occupied by a bay window may resemble the base portion of a triangle it is only necessary to take the longest width and multiply it by the depth ignoring the converging sides. Once again, this is unlikely to be a whole number so round it up and add it to the main rectangular area determined previously. Do the same with any protrusions, subtracting them from the main area instead.
At this stage, if you have followed these on how to measure for laminate flooring steps correctly, you should now be able to calculate the number of packs of planks that needed complete your installation. As a general rule, independent of the dimensions of the planks, these are sold in packs containing a sufficient number of units to cover a total of two square metres. This means that you just need to divide your total area by 2 in order to arrive at the number of packs required. Mistakes happen so it’s a wise step to add on another 10% to allow for these and don’t forget the whole number rule; you can’t buy 11.27 packs so round up to 12.
Alternatively just call a Top Carpets & Floors store. We are experts on how to measure for laminate flooring.
In making meaningful comparisons of the various laminated wooden flooring suppliers operating in South Africa there are six main criteria that, as a general rule, one would be well advised to apply. The first of these, and one of the most reliable pointers when making your assessment, should probably be…
The Company’s Reputation
A solid reputation is not something that is earned overnight. It is invariably those companies that have consistently offered quality products, reliable and unstinting service and customer centric policies that will are the most likely to have stood the test of time. With almost a quarter of a century of experience in this highly competitive field, the Top Carpets & Floors brand has emerged as an industry leader and a household name among South African consumers – a name that is synonymous with both top quality and top value.
Our retail outlets, and today there are more than 110 of them operating nationwide, are independently owned and managed and thus each has a vested interest in maintaining excellent customer relations. As the central buying and distribution facility we support them in this endeavour, not just by sourcing the world’s best products but by also securing them at the most affordable prices.
A Quality Product
Anyone investing in their home needs the reassurance that his or her money is well spent and this requires a quality product. Wherever the Top Carpets & Floors logo is displayed by a laminated wooden flooring supplier, the consumer can rest assured that he or she will be offered only the industry’s best whether locally manufactured or imported.
While many of the nation’s stores may be quick to claim that they offer exceptional quality, not all will be quite so swift to back such a claim with the kind of warranty that would confirm their sincerity. While even top branded products may differ in their performance, they should carry a minimum of a ten-year guarantee while medium and top-of-range surfaces should be guaranteed for 15 or 20 years and all should long outlive these figures with appropriate care.
Plenty of Choice
While not every branch may actually carry stock of all of our available options, Top Carpet & Floors actually provides an exceptionally wide range. To begin with, we offer the choice of six leading brands, namely – Constantia, FinFloor, Global Stream, Kronopol, Parador and Traviata.
The options do not end there, however, since each of these manufacturers also produces a range of designs and colours that, between them, are certain to meet all possible tastes and budgets. You should find something to suit any room and that will blend perfectly with its décor as well as products designed especially for use in damp locations such as the bathroom.
Naturally, your laminated wooden flooring supplier will be happy to provide boards for you to fit yourself. However, if you can confirm that it is a SAWLFA (South African Wood and Laminate Flooring Association) accredited store, you will be guaranteed a reliable installation that complies fully with all warranty conditions, should you prefer not to take on the task.
This should include thorough preparation of the sub-floor to seal any cracks and level any irregularities and, where this is concrete, the addition of a damp proof membrane as well as a quality underlayment where indicated. Furthermore, if your chosen store happens to one of the Top Carpets & Floors retail outlets, you will have the added security of our totally unique R1 million installation guarantee.
Value for Money
While, in general, the price of an item is a measure of its quality, that should not mean that consumers should have to be limited to inferior, non-performing goods simply because of financial constraints. As the country’s only national flooring retailer, Top Carpets & Floors commands considerable negotiating power with manufacturers,
This means that, in addition to top brands, our customers also enjoy highly competitive prices that are unequalled in terms of value for money.
While many pay lip service to the concept that ‘the customer is king’, to our retailers it is second nature. Like any good store, we are happy to offer a free measurement and quotation service as well as expert advice on suitability and colour. Where we differ from most however is in the addition of free and meaningful warranties.
Our exclusive mobile showrooms that bring samples to your door do, however, mark us as a leader among laminated wooden flooring suppliers.
A Simple How to Guide for Successfully Installing Laminate Flooring
Any ‘how to’ guide for installing laminate flooring should probably be prefaced with a fairly self-evident but, nevertheless, important caution. In order to ensure that you enjoy the full benefit of the manufacturer’s guarantee, it is essential that the procedures adopted when fitting comply fully with any relevant terms and conditions that may apply. If you are less than confident in your DIY capabilities, then it is definitely wiser to consult your local Top Carpets & Floors specialist and to invest in both a high quality product and an expert professional installation that will be fully protected under their exceptional, in-house guarantee scheme.
Before you begin
Go for the best quality product that you can afford. It should ideally carry a guarantee of at least 15 years. You will probably find it easier to work with the fully interlocking boards that require no adhesive. Here too, Top Carpets and floors will invariably offer you the widest choice and at genuinely competitive prices. Before starting, lay the boards flat in their packing in the room where they are to be used for a minimum of 48 hours. This allows them to acclimatise to the ambient temperature. This time can be spent assembling your tools and preparing the subfloor.
This step is a crucially important one and one that no worthwhile ‘how to’ guide for installing laminate flooring should fail to emphasise. For concrete subfloors ensure they are thoroughly dry, that all cracks are patched and any surface irregularities levelled. Wooden floorboards should be firmly screwed into position and any protruding nails hammered flat. If an old concrete surface is badly uneven, use a self-levelling compound to smooth it.
Position the Underlay
This provides protection and stability and may have a damp-proof layer built-in. Where this is not the case, a separate layer must be laid first on all porous surfaces like concrete, asphalt or quarry tiles but should not be required over wood. Strips must be laid flat, wall-to-wall and side by side but allowing a 10mm gap around pipes if present. Ensure all joins are sealed with masking tape.
Laying the Boards
For the best results the boards should be laid end-to-end in adjacent strips and parallel to the longest wall in the room, starting from the left. It’s important to leave an expansion gap all round and this is easily achieved with the help of special spacers in much the same way as when laying ceramic tiles.
Each board has short and long tongues at opposite ends and on opposite sides. Interlocking can only be achieved by fitting the small tongue of one board over the long tongue of another so always place your first board with its short tongues facing the walls. Do not attempt to insert the second board in the flat position but angle it at about 30° to the first one and then lower it gently until it locks in place. Continue to the end of the row at which point, the last board will almost certainly require cutting.
To mark the cut correctly, turn it through 180° and position it next to the previous one. Draw your line at the point of overlap and make your cut. Now position it as before and click it into place. The horizontal joints should be staggered and this can normally be achieved by using the offcut as the first board in the next row. Any length between 300 and 900mm should work just fine.
This time it is the side tongue that must be engaged using the same 30° angle and lowering it as before. Continue as for the first row and until the final row which will invariably be narrower than the standard boards and will need to be cut lengthwise to fit.
Reverse the board as when making the horizontal cuts but lay it directly on top of the board with which it must interlock. Place a third board with its long tongue flush to the wall so that it overlaps the other two and use its edge to trace the line of the cut. The strip protruding beyond the top board will fit the remaining gap exactly once it is cut.
A specially designed flooring trim may be used to cover up those expansion gasp and create a neat finish. They are easily cut with trim cutters designed for the task. That completes this stepwise how to’ guide for installing laminate flooring.
If it’s time to think about renewing your present floorcoverings, it may also be the perfect opportunity to spend a while examining some of the very good reasons for, perhaps, choosing laminates over carpets this time around. If you are unfamiliar with anything other than the physical appearance of these products than some of those arguments may well surprise you.
Their exceptional longevity provides great value for money
If the reason for replacing your woollen or synthetic fibre product is that it’s showing signs of wear, the most obvious benefit of deciding to replace it with one of the modern, multi-layered, composite products is their exceptional lifespan. When they are correctly installed and cared for in the prescribed manner, these surfaces will often carry a manufacturer’s guarantee of anything between fifteen and twenty-five years.
Not only does this mean that this type of material will outperform your pile-based floorcoverings but it should even maintain its appearance and performance for longer than a considerably more-expensive hardwood floor.
They are highly resistant to scratches and dents
If you are a pet owner, you may well be regretting the day you elected to cover the floor of your lounge with that luxurious thick tufted pile. Claws are inclined to become entangled in the pile causing damage to the fibres and cats, in particular, simply love to scratch. Such activity can soon lead to visible damage that only a strategically placed rug or some item of furniture will be able to conceal.
By contrast, among the many sound reasons for choosing laminates over carpets, their ability to resist the damage that can be caused by scratching or scuffing as well as the denting that results from the excessive pressure of heavy objects, is certainly one of the most compelling.
They require only the minimum of care
Today, many of the nation’s citizens are finding themselves having to work long hours in order to make ends meet and most modern households now seem to need two breadwinners. The resulting time constraints have resulted in less time for chores such as cooking and cleaning. While the former has prompted a move to convenience foods, meeting the needs of the latter can often be quite time-consuming.
Dishwashers, washing machines and dryers provide their specific help but the best way to dramatically reduce the time you need to spend on caring for your floor is to opt for a hard surface rather than a fibre-based covering. While the latter can trap dirt quite deeply that will take added effort to dislodge, a composite floor can be vacuumed with minimal effort.
Likewise, the pile of a fabric floorcovering can tend to soak up spills and will often become stained unless treated regularly. Cleaning may then require the use of chemical spot cleaners and perhaps professional steam-cleaning. The accidental spillages that may occur on the tough resin-protected surfaces are easily removed, in just seconds, with a damp cloth or mop. Easier to care for, even than timber floors, their shine is built-in and so polishing is never a requirement – another reason for choosing laminates over both carpets and natural wood as well.
They offer many alternative options
No longer restricted to wood-grain patterns, these composite floors are now able to simulate other materials such as granite, limestone and ceramics and they offer a choice of high-gloss, matte, textured and non-slip finishes. Newer variants now also offer a far greater range of colours than in the past and, in addition, there are varieties that are extra-resistant to the effects of damp and that may, thus, be safely installed in a bathroom or a shower area.
Before deciding and to ensure the very best quality product and service, first visit your local Top Carpets & Floors store where they will be happy to expand further on these reasons for choosing laminates over carpets.