5 Floors that Can Handle Water (& spring cleaning tips that keep them looking great!)

one muddy boot and spring mudApril showers bring May flowers—and puddles, mud, and all the other messiness that comes with spring.  If you’re in the market for a floor that can handle all the spring messes (plus spills, wet paws, muddy footprints, etc.) our rainy weather can dish out, we’ve compiled a list of floors that are easy-to-clean (especially for muddy foot and paw prints), durable, and look great—no matter what kind of water gets tracked in.

luxury vinyl_showroomLuxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is the perfect floor for a high traffic area that gets a lot of muddy footprints.  Many of these floors look like wood, but do not have the traditional wood floor problem of water damage from sitting water.  If you do get muddy footprints or water tracked in, just use a cloth or dry mop to clean up the mess.  Luxury vinyl planks floors can also be installed as a do-it-yourself project if you’re handy.

Tile

tile flooring in entryway with front table and lampPorcelain tile is water, odor, and mildew resistant; the perfect recipe for a flooring that can withstand water.  Tile floors are also a great buffer for your wood floors.  Install tile floors in your entryways and mudrooms so you can “catch” all the water and mud that gets tracked in before it hits your wood floors. As an added perk, radiant heating can be installed under floors which keeps them warm to the toes and dries out any water tracked in.

Laminate floors

installing luxury vinyl plank in a basmentLaminate floors are incredibly durable and easy-to-clean, which is why they are ideal for spaces where the mud and rain is tracked in.  There is one note of caution: while laminate floors can take the mud and wet footprints, be careful with standing water.  Standing water on laminate floors can warp the floors, so make sure you clean it up promptly.

Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl can handle water, even a foot of water.  That’s right we’ve seen sheet vinyl floors that have survived a flood and still look great.  Because there no seams, homeowners with sheet vinyl floors don’t have to worry about water damage from moisture seeping in between the planks.  Today’s sheet vinyl floors also come in a variety of styles that look great.

 

Tips to keep your floors looking great during spring

Use rugs for décor and a catch-all for mud and water.

If you don’t want water and mud tracked in, use rugs to catch all the water, gravel, and debris that gets tracked in.  Place a wide rug or long runner by each door to give your guests (and pets) a place to clean off their feet before they come in.

Leave your shoes at the door.

Once you (and your guests) walk in, take off your shoes and ask your guests to remove their shoes as well.  If you do leave your shoes on when you come in, clean your shoes off as well as you can.  Train your pets to stop at the door so you can clean their paws off before they leave muddy footprints across the floor.

Regularly sweep or dry mop your floor.

To prevent scratches and keep your floor looking great, regularly sweep or dry mop your floor.  A regular sweep picks up small debris that can scratch your floor and keeps stains from setting in.

Ask before you clean.

When you have new floors installed, don’t assume that you can use the same cleaners on the new floor as you did on the old one.  Some cleaners can damage your new floor and void your warranty.  If you have any questions about cleaners, ask the experts at your local flooring store to make sure you use approved cleaners that remove the spring messes and remove the stains.

Deep clean (or schedule) a deep cleaning periodically.

A regular sweeping isn’t enough; give your floor a regular deep clean (or schedule an appointment to get your floors deep cleaned) to keep your floor looking like the mud of spring never was (or at least never was in your house).

7 Ways to Find Relief from Spring Allergies in Your Home

Woman With Allergy sneezing From Flowers and winter indoor allergiesIt’s the time of year that allergy sufferers dread: spring (and summer!).  While everyone else looks forward to spending time outside in the warm temperatures, allergy sufferers look forward to all the symptoms that come with seasonal allergies: sneezing, wheezing, runny noses, and congestion.  There is hope for relief from those annoying symptoms: use these tips to make your home as much of a “hay allergy free” zone as possible.

Designate an area where you can remove the allergens.

Allergens stick to your clothes; that’s why pet-free homes inevitably have pet dander in the ducts.  To keep seasonal allergens out of your home, choose a room where you can leave your clothes (a mud room or laundry room) as soon as you walk in the house.  Launder your clothes as soon as possible to keep yourself from sneezing and wheezing.

Choose your vacuum carefully.

To pick up any allergens that make it into your home, buy an allergy sensitive vacuum.  Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter or double bag to ensure that you can vacuum the allergens that do come into your house away.

Thoroughly clean all your hard floors.

Allergens are everywhere, even on your hardwood and tile floors.  Use these tips to get your wood floors deep cleaned (or hire the pros to give you a thorough clean without causing any damage).

Clean your ducts.

As the old saying goes, “what comes around, goes around.”  If you have a forced air system, any allergens that come in continually re-circulate though your home’s air ducts every time your heat or air conditioner runs. Contact a professional duct cleaning company to rid your ducts, and your indoor air, of all those annoyingly common indoor allergens.

Select your furnace filter carefully.

Your furnace filter should be replaced every few months.  Cheaper air filters trap dust, a common allergen, but not much beyond that.  If you have allergies, purchase a furnace filter with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) next time you shop.  Furnace filters with high MERVs do not allow finer particles to pass, effectively removing allergens from the air. If you choose a filter with a high MERV (the max is 16), contact a HVAC professional because these filters can put too much pressure on your furnace fan and possibly damage your furnace.

Give your carpets a professional deep clean.

It’s incredibly tempting to head to your local store and rent a carpet cleaner to rid your home of any outdoor allergens. If you want to completely purge your home of allergens, take your carpet cleaning a step farther: contact a professional carpet cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning goes above and beyond a regular vacuum or a rental carpet cleaner.  A professional carpet cleaner removes allergens and dirt from your carpets.  To make sure you’re regularly removing the allergens, set a regular carpet cleaning schedule annually or biannually.

Keep your home’s humidity low.

Rooms with a humidity level above 50 percent can breed mold, mildew and dust mites, making you sneeze inside—adding to your misery after sneezing outside from your hay allergies.  Use a humidistat to monitor your room’s humidity level.  If your humidity level is above 50%, use a dehumidifier to lower your home’s humidity.

Your Top-to-Bottom Home Spring Cleaning Checklist

kitchen after using spring cleaning checklistThe weather in Wisconsin can finally be classified as spring, which means it’s time to give your home the deep clean that comes with warmer temperatures.  It’s finally time for a good spring cleaning.  To help you get your home completely cleaned before spring turns into summer, we’ve given you a complete spring cleaning checklist that ensures your home gets cleaned from top to bottom (if you do have any questions when you get to the bottom—the floor—ask us or use these tips to make sure your floors are cleaned well).

Every room

___Remove spider webs.

___Clean duct and air return covers.

___Dust ceiling fans and wash light fixture coverings.

___Clean the windows.

___Clean the tracks, screens, and interior parts of windows.

___Dust trim and crown moldings.

___Have your carpets professionally cleaned.

___Deep clean hardwood floors (make it an appointment to have your wood floors professionally cleaned or use these tips on how to clean your wood floors here).

___Clean blinds and curtains.

___Shake out all rugs.

___Have your area rugs professionally cleaned.

Kitchen

___Clean the top of cabinets.

___Wash the top & front of your refrigerator.

___Remove & clean shelves in your refrigerator.

___Clean and vacuum behind the refrigerator.

___Wipe down your vent hood and clean any screens.

___Clean the backsplash.

___Wash your kitchen walls.

___Wipe down exterior of appliances.

___Clean behind your stove.

___Clean your oven.

___Mop the floors.

___Clean grout (if you have tile floors).

Bathroom

___Clean light fixtures and fans.

___Scrub tile grout around shower and on floor.

___Wash the walls.

Bedroom

___Wash all bed linens.

___Flip mattress.

___Dust bed frame and all furniture.

___Vacuum behind furniture.

___Have carpets professionally cleaned.

___Deep clean hardwood floors (make it an appointment to have your wood floors professionally cleaned or use these tips on how to clean your wood floors here).

Floors Perfect for Homes with Pets

boys with dog on carpet choosing right pet-friendly floorFrom their great personality to their crazy antics, our pets have a way of working into our hearts. Inevitably that means, as a valued member of our family, our furry friends also work their way into our homes and across our floors.  When it’s time to replace those floors, it makes cents to keep our dog and cat friends in mind when you choose your next floor—your next pet-friendly floor.

Luxury Vinyl

Pros: Pet paws, high traffic, accidents, soda…this floor can take whatever your home (and your family) dishes out.  These floors are very hard to scratch and stain resistant so they can take running dogs and cats, long claws, and any accidents that might happen.  Pet hair can easily be removed, and they are incredibly easy to clean.  Luxury vinyl is available in a tile or wood look, can be installed with or without grout, and can be a do-it-your-self project (depending on the product).

Cons: Luxury vinyl can be very hard so you’ll need to add rugs for the comfort of your pets.  Scratches can be also hard to fix, so make sure you tell your associate you have pets when you purchase the floor.  The cost of luxury vinyl can be intimidating, but you can often get discounts for volume purchases.

Tile

Pros: Porcelain tile is water, odor and mildew resistant, making them ideal for homes with pets.  As far as looks, tiles come in a huge variety of colors and styles.  Tile can be installed as a do-it-yourself project, and is extremely affordable.  It’s also easy to keep clean.

Cons: When the temperature drops, tile floors can feel cold under your bare feet.  To keep your feet warm, consider having radiant floor heating installed under the tile.  Radiant floor heating can run off of your hydronic heating or can be installed as an electrical mat.  Because tile floors are so hard, it can be hard for pets with joint issues because it’s harder for them to get traction when they run through the room.

Hardwood

Pros: Hardwood floors are durable and can be refinished when needed.  Wood floors look great and are easy to clean up any fur or debris that your pet tracks in.  There are a ton of colors and styles, so you can choose the color and width of the floors that you want installed in your home.

Cons: Wood floors are one of the most expensive flooring options, and are prone to scratching.  Hardwoods also can be damaged by water from your pets’ paws, water bowls, or accidents.  Keep a rag close at hand so you can dry up easily.  If you choose hardwood, put a wood-friendly mat under the food and water bowls.  Wood floors are not a good match for basements because they can be damaged by moisture that seeps through the walls and floor (find out what floors are best for basements or just ask us via email or when you come in).

Laminate

Pros: Laminate flooring is as tough as nails (maybe tougher), which means it can handle all the running, playing, and crazy that comes with high-energy pets.  With a broom or a damp mop, this flooring is easy-to-clean and easy to remove all the fur that tends to pile up.  Laminate floors come in a variety of colors and styles, making them a beautiful addition to any room.  These floors are also very affordable and can be a fairly easy do-it-yourself project so they can be a low-cost upgrade to any home.

Cons: Laminate floors can be damaged by water spills—especially when not wiped up right away.  These floors are also very hard, which can be tough on pets with joint issues because they can’t get traction.  Laminate floors are very loud and tend to echo, especially when pets are running through the room.

Cork

Pros: Cork is antimicrobial, beautiful, and a green product.  It is mildew-resistant and soft to the feet, making it comfortable for pets to relax on.  Cork can be stained to the color you choose.

Cons: Cork is prone to damage from scratching, which can be a problem in a high traffic household (or a many-paw household).  While cork is easy to keep clean, it does need periodic maintenance over the life of the floor.  Cork can also be damaged by water, which makes it a problem in areas where your pets come in from outside or around their water bowl.

5 DIY Home Décor Projects You Can Get Done in a Weekend

bathroom with tile around tub and on floorThis title isn’t a Freudian slip; you can start and finish home décor projects from Friday to Sunday (or Monday if you’ve got a vacation day to burn).  Wipe all those half-finished, there’s-still-a-hole-in-my-wall pictures from your mind.  With a little bit of research, some professional advice from the local experts, and the right materials, you can use a weekend to transform any room of your home.

Backsplash

remodeled kitchen that adds valueA backsplash can be the finishing touch that adds a touch of ‘wow’ to your kitchen.  Make sure you measure the area correctly and do your homework before you even think of applying the tile adhesive.  Once you have the step-by-step directions memorized, visit your local home décor store to pick out the right tile for your kitchen and to get the professional advice you need to get the job completed by Monday.

Bathroom facelift

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerIf you’re tired of that worn-out bathroom surround or that outdated ugly tile (insert color here), give your bathroom a facelift with new bathroom tile.  Depending on the scope of your project and size of your bathroom, you may need to allocate more time to get from start to finish.  Obviously, installing tile around a half bath is going to go faster than tiling around a huge, luxurious shower.

New laminate or wood floor

Floating floors are fairly easy to install before you don’t need to worry about nails.  Three of the most popular floating floors are laminate, engineered wood, and luxury vinyl planks.  All three are incredibly durable and easy to install if you have the correct tools and information.

cherry colored laminate floor in kitchenYou can also get a good deal on these floors if you buy in bulk or watch for deals.  Before you install the floors, make sure you do your share of prep work before you start installing.  In addition to ripping up your old floors, you need to remove all staples, level, and get your sub-floor ready for the new, fantastic looking floating floor.

Tile floor

A new tile floor can give your new entryway, laundry room, kitchen, bathroom, or mud room a whole new look—and can handle all the water that typically gets spilled or tracked into these rooms.  As an added bonus, tile can be installed over radiant floor heating, which makes your new tile floors a welcome warm addition under your feet.  As with all do-it-yourself projects, do your homework (especially if radiant floor heating is involved) and make sure you ask how much maintenance your tile and grout require over the life of your new tile floor.

Outside tile projects

front steps with porcelain tileAdding tile to your patio or front step is a project that you can dream about all winter long until you have a warm weekend to tackle and complete this terrific addition to your outdoor space (and to dream of the great times you’ll have once it’s warm).  Make sure you prep the space completely before you get started and you mention to your salesman that you are buying tile that is going outside.  Choose a weekend that is warm enough for installation and curing, and plan a fun get together to show off your DIY tile installation once it’s done.

5 Home Projects that Increase Your Home Value

kitchen and dining room with island, table, and laminate floorsIt’s the most wonderful time of the year—not Christmas—tax return time.  If you’re sifting through ideas of ways to spend your tax return, look around you (literally!) for worthy investments of your money and time.  Some home projects can give you a return on your hard-earned dollars in the way of home value.  To make sure you’re spending your tax return dollars on home updates that give you a significant return, use this guide to select your next home remodeling project that makes cents.

Hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are near the top for many home buyers; that demand is part of the reason that new hardwood floors can increase your home value.  Traditional hardwoods or engineered hardwoods are the two most common choices.  There are other advantages to installing hardwood floors too: they’re durable, can be refinished as needed, and come in a variety of styles perfect for any home (come see!).

Bathroom face lift

bathroom with tile floor that can handle waterA new vanity, tiled shower, white toilet (no colored toilets!), and a new floor can do wonders for the look of your bathroom AND for the value of your home. We’ve seen statistics that have put the return on investment in the 80% range, a favorable return for your tax return.  Even a small investment of time and funds into a half bathroom (or adding a half bathroom) can increase the value of your home.

Kitchen remodel

Bathrooms and kitchens sell houses, which is why an updated kitchen is a solid investment of your tax return.  To get the most for your dollar, research your area to make sure you don’t overspend on your kitchen remodel.  While you would love to have a gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles, from an investment perspective, you won’t get the most of your dollars if you invest too much for your area.  New cabinets (or refaced is the cabinet boxes are still sound), new back splash, counters, and a new floor (or whatever combination of these items are needed) can get you a return on your tax return investment.

Finished basement

carpet in basement that can handle basement moistureAdding finished square footage to your home is always going to lead to a higher resale and home value.  Finishing all or even part of your basement into a family room, media room, or bedroom (or all of the above) can give you more space when you need it.  Drywall, new floors (options for basement flooring here), and finishing touches (i.e. shelves, curtains and blinds, etc.) give you more functional room and an increase in your home value.

New deck/patio

Outdoor space is a priority for all us; after all, an outdoor grill out is one of our favorite pass times.  That’s why building a new deck or sprucing up your patio with a fresh look (more outdoor ideas here) can boost the value of your home.

8 Remodeling Ideas that Inspire & Look Great

Looking for inspiration for your next home remodeling project? You’ve come to the right place.  We know how hard it is to decide on the right project that gives you the makeover you’re going for. Here are the ‘after’ photos that inspire you, and the link to experts that can help you make it happen (as well as a gallery of other photos to keep your juices going!).

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile shower

Class up your bathroom with tile.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a bath surround, half bathroom, or large master bath, tile can make a bathroom look stylish and updated.  To make your bathroom look larger, have your tile installed vertically instead of horizontally.  For a polished look to your half bath, use a mosaic tile that adds interest to the room.  For a creative bathroom project, use different tiles to make a statement.  For more ideas (and inspiration!) read through this list of tile trends you’ll love.

living room carpet

Give your room a new paint makeover.

A new paint job is one of the simplest (and most affordable!) ways to give your room a whole new look.  Make a change by painting your trim or walls a color that coordinates your existing décor or make a BIG change by painting your room a color that coordinates with your new floor or tile.

kitchen back splash

Add a backsplash to your kitchen.

A kitchen just doesn’t look finished without a tile backsplash. Add interest to your kitchen with a neutral subway tile or a pop of color (or bling!).  The sky is the limit when it comes to options…to find your style of backsplash, head to your local tile store to choose the right backsplash for your kitchen.

man cave blinds

Add blinds or window treatments to finish a room.

The perfect blinds or window treatments add a finishing touch to any room, as well as function.  Add neutral light-blocking blinds so you can watch TV or a room darkening shade that allows you to get a good night sleep. For a professional look (and to avoid the headaches of measuring and installation), look into custom blinds and curtains perfect for your room.

wood floors in home with grand piano and furniture

Install show-stopping flooring.

Very few home projects can make as dramatic of a change as a new floor.  A new hardwood, laminate, or luxury vinyl (here’s why to consider a new luxury vinyl floor) can change the look of your room (or rooms) and give your home a whole new style.

If you want to install the flooring yourself, visit your local flooring store for laminate and luxury vinyl plank flooring that can be installed as a DIY project (here are tips on how to get the project done so you have a great-looking floor).

tile flooring in entryway with front table and lamp

Make your entryway and mudroom as beautiful as it is functional.

We’re stating the obvious: our Midwestern weather is unpredictable. That’s why a beautiful and functional entryway or mudroom is an essential combination in any home.  Add shelves, artwork, a photo arrangement, and a striking flooring product that can handle the water and looks great.

front steps with porcelain tile

Make your outdoor an entertaining conversation starter.

Even if there is snow on the ground, start planning for your summer barbecues and parties now.  Choose a tile that makes your patio unique and stunning, or add the tile to your front step to create the ultimate curb appeal.

ALANTE_00731_H_4-1000x667

Finish your basement.

Add more functional and fun space to your home by finishing your basement.  Use this guide for selecting the best flooring for your space, and choose a décor that makes your basement a beautiful and entertaining room for the winter (and summer!) months.

4 Bathroom Tile Trends You’ll Love

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerYour bathroom may not be the most exciting part of your home, but it can be.  New tile trends, new styles are coming out every day that can make your bathroom a statement piece that you can be proud of.  Here are our favorite new bathroom tile ideas and trends that can make your bathroom striking—and make you want to spend time in your updated bath.

Chevron pattern

Subway tiles installed in a chevron pattern are all the rage.  It’s easy to see why: it looks great and is terrifically different and unique.  Add another color tile into the pattern for a bold statement that draws the eye of your guests—and keeps it.

Tile everywhere

If you love the tile you chose for your bathroom, set your sights beyond the floor or around the shower.  Cover your walls with a fun mosaic tile or with a neutral rectangle tile that coordinates with your bathroom décor.  In a larger bathroom, cover the walls around your shower and bath tub.

Vertical tile

If you want to add height to your bathroom, consider having your tile installed vertically instead of horizontally.  A vertical tile can make a small bathroom feel larger, or give a unique look to your shower and tub.  This style can also be used in your kitchen for a distinctive look.

Look of wood

We’d probably see more wood floors and countertops in our bathrooms if it wasn’t for that pesky risk of water damage.  With new tile styles, you can now have the look of wood without fear of a water stain.  Use tile that looks like wood with variegated colors for an accent wall around your shower, or make it look like you were crazy enough to have wood floors installed in your bathroom.  Choose a color that coordinates with the rest of your décor at a local tile store—or ask for more tile options that’ll make your bathroom a showstopper.

Which flooring is right for your home?

picture of kitchen remodelChoosing the right flooring for your home can be overwhelming. There are so many floor options: hardwood, tile, luxury vinyl, carpet…the list can go on and on.  It’s easy to be floored (pun intended) by so many products; it gets even more complicated when you start to add in the other factors that help you decide whether that beautiful floor is a good long-term option.  After all, you don’t want to install a floor that looks great but is susceptible to damage because you didn’t know that about moisture and its effect on your floor.

We’ve put together a full list, and breakdowns of all the important factors, to get you started in your decision.  From here, head into your local flooring store with a few of your favorite flooring options, where they can give you the advice that gets you down to the right product (and look!) perfect for your home.

Hardwood

warm wood floors in home that need deep cleanThe look: Hardwood floors are timeless and classic.  Available in almost every color and plank width, the right wood floor can complement the décor of any room.  For a more contemporary look, choose a wide plank floor with a dark finish (consider a handscraped variety to add texture).  To give your home a traditional, classic look, a lighter finish can make your home feel timeless.

Pros: Can add value to your home, beautiful look, very durable flooring, can be sanded down and refinished many times

Cons: Should not be installed in a basement or over radiant floor heating, can be damaged by water spills, can be damaged by steam cleaning, cost

Best rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms

Note of caution: Hardwoods can be installed in kitchens, mudrooms, and bathrooms, but be careful of water puddles. Do not put down any area rugs for the first six months after installation to avoid any issues with discoloration.

Tile

tile floor in bathroom with white vanity and tile showerThe look: Tile floors can make a statement that you can plan your décor around or be a neutral backdrop that offers a lot of décor options.  Choose a tile with variegated colors for a floor that catches everyone’s glance, or a tan or grey tile that looks great.  In addition to tile color, tiles can also be installed with any color grout that coordinates with your décor.

Pros: Can be installed over radiant floor heating, water, odor and mildew resistant

Cons: Can be prone to cracking, items may break when dropped due to hardness

Best rooms: Entryway/foyer, kitchen, bathrooms

Laminate

installing luxury vinyl plank in a basmentThe look: Laminate floors have come a long way over the years.  With the look of wood and an incredible durability, laminate floors can take all the activity that your family and pets can throw at it.  Laminate floors come in a variety of colors and widths.  For a neutral and modern look, choose a grey laminate with wide boards.  To keep your home looking classic, choose a laminate floor that looks like a 100-year old hardwood, like a laminate that has the look of hand-scraped hardwood flooring.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, very durable, ideal for high foot traffic rooms, can be a do-it-yourself project, affordable

Cons: Can be damaged by water spills, may be scratched

Best rooms: Living areas, bedrooms

Luxury Vinyl

luxury vinyl_showroomThe look: Luxury vinyl floors look like wood but without any of the worries about water.  These floors come in almost any color or plank width, giving you a variety of options to choose from when planning your décor.  Luxury vinyl floors look great and can leave you and your guests in awe of a beautiful floor.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, durable, can handle water better than laminate or hardwood, can be a do-it-yourself project, can be installed over radiant floor heating

Cons: Can be scratched, more expensive than laminate

Best rooms: Entryway/foyer, mudroom, living areas, bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, basement

Carpet

Carpet_installed by ysThe look: Carpet is one of the most common flooring choices because of the variety of styles and colors, and the soft feel under your feet.  This flooring is also affordable and can be a striking part of any home’s decor.  Carpet can come in plush styles that your feet love, or with patterns or textures that enhance the look of any room.

Pros: Easy-to-clean (just a regular vacuuming and annual carpet clean), soft underfoot, affordable

Cons: Cleaning can be more complicated than hard floors

Best rooms: Living rooms, basement, bedrooms, hallways

Carpet tile

The look: Carpet tile comes in squares and is pieced together to make a fantastic pattern in any room.  These tiles are available in different colors and textures.

Pros: Easy-to-clean, can be swapped out with another carpet tile when stained, affordable

Cons: If not installed with pads, may not be as soft underfoot, cleaning can be more complicated than hard floors

Best rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms, basement (play areas!)

10 Tips that Keep Your Vinyl Floors Looking Great

picture of shaw floors luxury vinyl plank floor with cabinet

Courtesy of Shaw Floors

Vinyl floors, especially luxury vinyl floors, are getting more and more popular today.  They’re durable, beautiful, and easy to keep looking great—with a little bit of upkeep and preventative maintenance.

Use mats to your advantage.

Put mats outside and rugs inside to catch all the gravel and debris that can scratch your floors.  Train your pets to stop after they enter so you can clean their paws.

Be careful about rugs.

Before you lay down area rugs or mats, make sure you do your research. Many flooring manufacturers do not recommend using rubber- or latex-based mats because the mats can permanently damage your floors.  Look for the “colorfast” label or talk to experts at your local flooring store. They can recommend area rugs and backings they’ve seen in other homes that kept their luxury vinyl floors looking great.

Sweep regularly.

If you want to keep your luxury vinyl floors in new condition, make a habit of sweeping your luxury vinyl floors.  A routine sweep removes any gravel or stones that are tracked in and can scratch your floors. ALWAYS make sure you sweep before you mop.

Vacuum with care.

Vacuuming your vinyl floors is a good thing, but only if you make sure NOT to use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar.  Beater bars are on the bottom of your vacuum and are usually covered with bristles.  They rotate rapidly and may damage hard floors.

Clean up puddles.

Vinyl floors are one of the most durable floors on the market, but puddles can still damage your luxury vinyl floors.  Whether someone spills a drink or you’re mopping your floors, make sure you dry any excessive moisture and don’t leave it sitting on your floors.

Be careful about cleaners.

Abrasive cleaners can compromise the finish of your floors or damage your floor.  To make sure your warranty stands and your floors stay in like-new condition, be very selective about the cleaner you use when you clean your floor.  Avoid wax-based products that can damage the floor in the long-term.  To find the best cleaner for your floor (and to purchase a manufacturer-approved cleaner that doesn’t void the warranty), visit a local flooring store to get the best floor cleaning product for the job.

Stock up on gentle scrubbing tools.

Just as you shouldn’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t use abrasive scrubbing tools.  A soft mop is usually your best bet for a deep clean.  Don’t worry just because you can’t use an abrasive scrubbing tool, you can still use elbow grease.

Floor stripper may be your grout’s enemy.

If your vinyl floor has grout lines, avoid floor strippers.  Floor stripper can breakdown grout, so don’t hesitate to ask the experts before you roll up your sleeves for a deep clean.

Be generous with felt pads.

Put felt pads on all your furniture: your couches, love seats, recliners, coffee tables, dining tables, chairs—everything.  Felt pads are your first line of defense to keep your luxury vinyl floor from scratches.

Take protective measures when you move heavy objects.

When rearranging anything heavy, such as your appliances or furniture, don’t drag them across your floor.  Instead use smooth pieces of plywood to create a path that you can drag your heavy items across.