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Using Steam Cleaners on Wood & Laminate Floors

November 22, 2011 1:38 pm    Posted by joe    Comments (2)

Caution Floor Damage Ahead

It’s that time of year again. The newspaper’s filled with “Black Friday” sales and everyone is planning their shopping strategy – the holiday season is upon us. For many, this means gathering together with family and friends. If you’re hosting a get-together, making sure your home looks its best is likely one of your top priorities. For the hardwood or laminate owner, this often begs the question, “Is it okay for me to use a steam cleaner on my floor?” As a customer service technician, I get asked this question a lot. The short answer is no! Read on to find out why.

Laminate Flooring

First, let’s look specifically at laminate in relation to steam cleaner use. Armstrong does not recommend the use of any type of steam cleaner on our laminate floors. The concern with these types of cleaners is that they simply generate too much moisture. For example, in a laminate installation where glue has been used at the joints, the resulting moisture due to the use of a steam cleaner can be enough to break down the adhesive. Also, in instances where no glue is used, we have seen both peaked and swelled edges occur in laminate. While it may be possible that a steam cleaner does a sufficient job in maintaining the laminate, the potential risks of its use are too great to allow us to give our recommendation.

Hardwood Flooring

Next, we delve into steam cleaner use on hardwood. As with laminate, we don’t recommend the use of steam cleaners on hardwood either. The number one rule of hardwood maintenance is never to use water. The use of a steam cleaner would clearly violate that rule. Here’s why: over time, the moisture generated from the steam would be absorbed by the floor boards. Eventually, it would cause these boards to swell in place which results in buckling. Once the board swells, it has nowhere to go and will begin to “pop up” over time. Excessive moisture could also have a detrimental impact on the finish of your hardwood floor. Keep in mind that it makes no difference whether your hardwood is of a solid or engineered construction in relation to steam cleaner use. Each structure would still be negatively impacted when excessive moisture is generated on its surface, especially after several uses.

Floor Care

This is the most common time of the year for folks to focus on maintaining their floors. It is my hope that this post has provided a bit more understanding of our reasons for cautioning against the use of steam cleaners in relation to hardwood and laminate floors. For more information on the best practices for cleaning your floors, please visit the maintenance section of our website. 2012 is only a few shorts weeks away. Be sure to enter the New Year with your floor looking its best and performing at its peak. 

Joe Sumpman, a Technical Services Representative, has four years at Armstrong under his belt. Joe is the consumer’s “phone a friend.” He can talk with you about almost any flooring topic – from installation methods to flooring warranties to finding a local retailer and more. He blogs about these topics too! At heart, Joe is a music and sports lover. And just for fun, he once decided to try skydiving!