Category: Flooring & Stairs


Green Home—Flooring

Flooring products have benefited from green technologies that serve the consumer as well as the planet.

Green Flooring

Photo: dehocorkfl.com

The interest in environmentally friendly floors is growing as people learn about deforestation, air quality, growing landfills, and other issues. Whether you’re a core green consumer, interested in health issues, or just looking for great products at a good price, homeowners can discover many eco-friendly flooring possibilities.

Issues of Concern
Many factors figure into the idea of green flooring. Those looking at hardwood or engineered wood floors have at least two concerns. “First, there is an increasing awareness today of the destruction of the world’s forests,” says Lewis Buchner, CEO of EcoTimber in San Rafael, CA. “Forests hold the vast majority of Earth’s plant and animal life. The destruction of forests is the second-largest cause of carbon emissions worldwide—more than all cars, trucks, boats and planes combined. People want to do the right thing and don’t want their flooring decision to add to this destruction.

“There’s also the issue of indoor air quality. Remember the fiasco surrounding formaldehyde emissions in the FEMA trailers housing victims of Hurricane Katrina? Most of those emissions came from the adhesives used to bind wood products together. These adhesives are also found in many engineered wood flooring products,” says Buchner. EcoTimber offers domestic and exotic hardwood and bamboo flooring, including prefinished engineered and floating floors with no volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde-free adhesives.

The growing amount of waste going to landfills is another concern. Shaw Industries is one such eco-friendly company. Keeping carpet out of landfills is a key part of its Green Edge program. Public Relations and Media Relations Specialist Mollie J. Allen says the company’s Evergreen facility in Augusta, GA, recycles Type 6 nylon (N6) carpets and rugs, the ones typically found in American households. The facility breaks down carpets to the raw N6 nylon and remanufactures it into new fiber that can be used over and over without loss of beauty or durability. Since it opened in February 2007, the Evergreen facility has recycled more than 87 million pounds of post-consumer N6 carpet. Visit Shaw Environmental or call 800-434-9887 to locate a designated collection site.

Shaw also has introduced Epic® hardwood which uses up to 67 percent recycled content. Epic’s dense inner layer, EnviroCore®, is composed of wood fiber created in the manufacture of other products, especially sawmill by-products that would otherwise be burned or put into landfills.

Mohawk Industries has a different kind of recycling in its business operations. Mohawk’s everSTRAND® carpet fiber is made using PET (polyethylene terephthalate) extruded from recycled plastic bottles. The company uses about 25 percent of the country’s recycled PET plastic drinking bottles—more than 17 billion since 1999. PET bottles are sorted, ground up, cleaned, melted, extruded into fiber, and spun into carpet yarn. Even the bottle cap and label are used, making the cores around which the carpet is wrapped.


Walking on Glass

Glass block floors invite more light into your home and provide a unique decorative accent.

Glass Block Floors

Photo: gemhome.com

Glass block floors add a unique accent to wood, tile, stone, and concrete floors. Consider them a dual purpose floor: Glass block panels enhance a living space by illuminating both the walking surface of a room, as well as the ceiling surface of the room below. While typically found in contemporary residential and commercial designs, properly planned they also add a modern touch to more traditional homes.

Options
Glass block panels are bought either as a kit that includes hollow glass pavers and an aluminum or pre-cast concrete frame, or as prefabricated and ready-to-install panels. The framework for the panels is available in standard shapes (usually square or rectangular designs), or can be custom ordered in unique configurations. In general, glass panel kits are more appropriate for interior applications where weather and water will not be constantly encountered. Prefabricated panels are factory sealed against moisture, and are better suited for use in decks or other exterior-facing applications. The glass pavers (the glass block portion of the floor) must be specifically designed to serve as a flooring material. The glass block stocked in home centers for use in windows and walls does not have the proper strength for flooring applications.

To assemble a floor panel, the glass blocks are set into the concrete or aluminum framework and sealed against moisture (each manufacturer has its own assembly process). The panels are designed to act as load-bearing system, and properly installed can easily withstand the day-to-day rigors of family traffic. When used in an exterior facing application, glass block panels are thermally efficient, with an insulating R-value equal to that of double-pane glazing on high-performance windows.

The glass pavers are available in a range of sizes, usually from 6-inch to 12-inch squares. Many manufacturers suggest that glass block pavers be bought in a sandblasted finish. This improves slip resistance and diffuses light sources for a glare-free surface. Additionally, when used in private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms, sandblasting the glass blocks ensures privacy.

Installation
Glass block floor panels are manufactured by a handful of companies in the United States, including Circle Redmont and IBP Floor Systems. While the panels come with detailed installation instructions, proper assembly and mounting is a job best left to professionals. Because a glass block floor panel will not generally fit in between existing floor joists, the joists must be cut and a support frame built into the floor. Glass block panels are extremely heavy; a 4-foot-square panel can weigh up to 300 pounds, making installation at least a three-person job.


Cork Flooring 101

An environmentally friendly alternative to wood or tile, remodelers often neglect to consider cork flooring as a viable option—but it is.

Cork Flooring

Photo: buildinghomegarden.com

Cork has been used for flooring for over a century. Finished cork floor can have the look of textured hardwood, the soft give of carpet, and the easy maintenance of vinyl. Throw in natural insulating and sound attenuation properties, and cork is an environmentally friendly flooring option worthy of attention.

Beneficial by Nature
A cross-section of cork resembles a honeycomb with over 100 million prism-shaped cells per cubic inch. Each cell is comprised mostly of air, making cork highly elastic and naturally insulating. Cork’s inherent “give” lets it be compressed up to 40 percent and still spring back to its original form. As flooring, cork feels softer than hardwood and warm underfoot, making it an obvious alternative to carpet.

The air within the cells also acts as sound insulation, which is why it is not uncommon to find museums floored in cork to deaden the clickety-clack of so many feet falling. “We find cork is being widely used in commercial projects like school hallways and museums, where sound reduction is important,” says Robert Sawyer of Amorim, a cork manufacturing company that makes the Wicanders line of cork floors, “but it works great in a residential setting, like a TV room, where acoustics play an important role.” In a condo requiring floors of a given impact insulation class (IIC) rating or less, cork passes the test, leaving the occupants in the unit below wondering if anyone at all is living upstairs.

Cork’s benefits come naturally, which makes it a wise choice for the environmentally conscious. It is a naturally fire-resistant material, and will not release toxins if it burns. Cork also boasts anti-microbial properties, allowing it to resist mold and mildew. Cork even naturally repels invasive insects like termites.

Design and Installation
Cork floors come in a wide variety of colors—from the more common natural-looking, honey tones to stained greens, reds, and even blacks. Cork floors can feature textures with granite-like appearances and, like hardwood floors, be installed in planks. These planks can be shuffled and arranged prior to installation to add different flows, designs, and color tones to the flooring project. The cork planks themselves will vary in actual composition from company to company, but most are layered with a cork underlayment, a high-density-fiberboard middle layer for moisture resistance, a natural cork or wood veneer layer, and a thin vinyl or acrylic finish or “wear layer” for durability and easy maintenance. “Our PVC [poly-vinyl chloride] wear layer protects from scuffs and wear,” says Sawyer. “Cleaning is easy—it’s the same as vinyl or hardwood. All you need is a damp mop.”

Although cork flooring companies offer the adhesive installation option with some of their product lines, most have turned to floating-floor systems for ease of installation. The floating-floor systems do not require an adhesive or glue be applied to the subfloor or tiles. With floating-floor systems, the tiles are laid and snapped together by virtue of locking designs that vary by name from company to company—the Wicanders line, for example, uses the CORKLOC system for its click-together, glue-free tiles. “Floating floors are fast and easy to install,” says Sawyer. “The consumer can install it easily, and there is no glue to clean up.”

A Sustainable and Renewable Resource
The cork used in cork floors comes from the bark of the cork oak, which is grown in the Mediterranean Basin, in countries like Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The cork bark is harvested from a tree every nine years, during the months when the trees are in a dormant state. The process does not damage the trees at all, and the industry is controlled strictly by the government. A cork oak is not harvested until it is at least 25-30 years old, and the trees can live for 150-200 years. Cork and cork floors are becoming a popular choice as a renewable resource in a more environmentally conscious world. “Cork is the other wood,” Sawyer explains. “People are looking for something different, for a different look.” In cork floors, consumers can find that different look, easy maintenance, benefits galore, plus the clear conscience that comes with using a product that is good for the environment.

Extra: The Truth About Wine Corks
Alternative wine stoppers are taking the place of natural cork in some wine bottles these days. Manufacturing companies cite a worldwide “cork shortage” as the reason for change. Robert Sawyer of Amorim, a cork company that claims 65 percent of worldwide cork sales, is just as fast to respond that, “The shortage exists on the side of the manufacturers, who can’t get their hands on the cork as quick as they would like.”

Amorim uses cork byproducts from stopper manufacturing to make other cork products such as cork floors and cork gaskets.

The real reason for the increase in alternative stoppers may be the increase in incidents of “corked wine,” or wine that has been “tainted” by TCA, a bacteria that forms during the interaction of bad cork and wine. Alternative wine-stopper companies claim that almost 10 percent of wine in the U.S. is “tainted,” and that corked wine is the leading contributor to the $100 million annual losses suffered by the wine industry.

“Our synthetic cork eliminates the quality issues that the wine industry had with natural cork,” said one representative of Nomacorc, a synthetic cork company based in North Carolina.

Wine purists will continue to insist on wine with natural corks, however. “There is enough cork in Portugal to last 100 years,” Sawyer insists.


Choosing the Right Floor

Interested in choosing the right floor? Appearance matters, but don't forget the ongoing demands of material maintenance.

Choosing the Right Floor

Photo: flickr.com

Floors must withstand your lifestyle. They get nicked by high heels, crusted by muddy boots and crushed by furniture legs. Sunlight, moisture, pets, stains, spills, and childhood accidents all leave marks. Yet it’s common to focus on how a floor covering looks and forget how it will wear.

Carpet
There are four clear choices when it comes to floor covering: carpet, wood, tile, and vinyl. Carpet cuts down on noise and hides problems with subflooring. It also offers wobbly toddlers a softer landing, and warms your toes on chilly mornings. Damage can be repaired using leftover carpet, if the wear and fading have not been extensive. For those who suffer from allergies, carpet squares can provide a viable option. These squares are completely removable and can be cleaned outdoors to avoid stirring up dust mites and allergens. No matter the health concerns, carpet must be vacuumed regularly and shampooed annually, at the very least, to ensure a quality floor covering.

Wood Floors
Wood flooring is a popular choice for many reasons. Wood floors don’’t harbor dust, bacteria, or dust mites the way that carpet can. Wood floors come in natural styles, are durable and, when properly sealed and finished, can be cleaned with a wet mop. Woods such as oak, cherry, or fir don’t dent as easily as pine, and most gouges can be restained to hide the damage. Hardwood floors can be left their natural color or given a stain, ranging from light (blond) to dark (cherry). Simulated wood products, such as Pergo, look like wood but are made of synthetic rubbers that won’t scratch or dent as easily as the real thing — yet they offer the same visual appeal as wood, including the grain that defines hard woods. These synthetic floors are particularly well suited to high-traffic areas like kitchens and mudrooms.

Vinyl
Vinyl makes perfect sense in kitchens, dining areas and entryways where water and grime collect. Vinyl cleans up well, looks attractive, and resists damage from furniture legs and falling objects. Vinyl squares, sold in 12- and 16-inch sizes, are the easiest floor product to install, bar none. They have a peel-and-stick backing, which allows them to go directly onto a prepped floor, and eliminates the mess of working with an adhesive. Vinyl squares also come in styles that mimic ceramic tile, but without the risk of chipping and cracking. Vinyl sheeting is an excellent choice for bathrooms and laundry areas, though sheeting must be cut to the exact size before being laid. Vinyl sheeting, unlike tiles, is not a peel-and-stick product, so you’ll need to apply glue to the floor before laying in the precut sheet. Price and quality vary depending on the thickness, pattern, and design of the floor covering.

Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile has decorated floors since the days of Greece, Persia, and Rome. Today’s ceramic tiles boast brighter colors, and more elaborate patterns and styles. Fired ceramic is rugged and hard, functional and beautiful. Because it is non-porous, ceramic tile withstands moisture, and is well suited for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Its beauty makes it an elegant choice for living areas, as well. Installing ceramic tile is a major undertaking, however, even in a small area such as a front or rear entryway. This is not a job for the faint-hearted or weak of knees. If you do it yourself, you will spend much time on your hands and knees, will learn to trowel, and will become adept with a tile cutter.


Bob Vila Radio: Replacing Grout

Long before your tiles wear out, the grout between them can start to look tired, dirty, or stained. A good scrubbing can help freshen it up, but at some point the grout will need to be replaced. New grout can extend the life of those tiles for many years.

Replacing-Grout

Photo: dexknows.com

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Bob Vila Radio: Cleaning Grout

There’s nothing like a freshly tiled floor or backsplash—but there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing those beautiful clean grout lines become stained or mildewed. The good news is that you don’t need an expensive regrouting job to restore your tile’s look. It’s going to take some elbow grease, but you can clean up those grout lines. Here’s what you need to know.

Cleaning-Grout

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Bamboo Flooring 101

Exotic in look yet inexpensive to buy, sustainably harvested bamboo flooring continues to grow in popularity as an alternative to hardwoods.

Bamboo Flooring Pros and Cons

Photo: Morning Star Bamboo

If you’re looking to install new hardwood floors, why not consider today’s eco-friendly alternative, bamboo?

Considered a renewable resource because it grows so quickly, a freshly harvested bamboo plant only takes about seven years to reach maturity again. Of course, hardwood trees like oak, ash, and maple regenerate also, but it takes them considerably longer, at least 40 or 50 years.

Related: Eco-Friendly Flooring: 5 Ways to Go Green from the Bottom Up

There’s no denying that bamboo flooring can look as beautiful as hardwood. It can even offer a comparable level of durability. But its looks and longevity depend on the variety chosen. On the one hand, there’s natural bamboo, light in color (almost blonde), which boasts twice the stability of red oak (America’s most popular flooring). On the other hand, there’s carbonized bamboo, a darker and softer, less resilient material.

Tiger Strand Bambooflooring MorningstarbambooThough comparatively few color variations are to be found in bamboo, a range of design options are available, from edge-grain planks to exotic, striped “tiger” designs. Note that solid bamboo is stronger than engineered, which consists of multiple layers. If intent on the latter, choose a product featuring a 1/4-inch-thick top layer for best results.

Coming in between $5 and $8 per square foot (before installation), bamboo flooring is on par with, or less costly, than traditional hardwoods. If you’re handy, you can install bamboo flooring by nailing or gluing it directly onto the subfloor. If you opt to have a professional install the floor, expect to pay between $3 and $5.50 per square foot.

Bamboo Flooring Pros:
• High-quality bamboo wears as well and lasts as long as traditional hardwood.
• Bamboo flooring lends a clean, modern appearance to any room.
• Bamboo is more sustainable than traditional hardwoods.
• You can easily clean bamboo flooring with a mop and mild soap; no special treatments are required.

Bamboo Flooring Cons:
• Inexpensive bamboo may be prone to dents and scratches.
• Bamboo flooring from China may contain high levels of urea formaldehyde, a toxic chemical; make sure the flooring you buy is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
• The contemporary look of bamboo may not fit in with a vintage- or antique-inspired home decor scheme.


Prefinished vs. Unfinished Wood Flooring

Prefinished or Unfinished Wood Flooring - Acacia

Acacia Natural Prefinished Floor. Photo: fantastic-floor.com

I’ve looked at flooring from both sides now… and it’s the horrors of applying polyurethane I recall.

Apologies to Joni Mitchell for that, but when it comes to installing solid or engineered wood flooring, prefinished is my choice. Some pros disagree, but these are my reasons:

You can walk on your new floor immediately. With flooring that is finished on-site using oil-based polyurethane, the homeowner must wait days, sometimes even weeks, before moving furniture back into the room. Even though the floor may be dry to the touch, it will be vulnerable to scraping until the waiting time has elapsed and the finish has fully cured. I once had to shuffle around in socks and remain furniture-less for four weeks after applying three coats of poly to a floor. (Waterborne polyurethane finishes dry to touch quickly but can have varying cure times—some quite long.)

Related: Solid vs. Engineered: Selecting Wood Flooring

No issues with VOCs and your family’s health. For days after applying an oil-based polyurethane, you will smell and breathe in vapors from polyurethane resins and solvents. VOCs have been shown to be carcinogenic, and some waterborne polyurethanes produce them too. Why not buy prefinished so that the curing takes place in a factory, not in your living room?

No worries about dust. Dust and errant hairs are the enemy of on-site floor finishing, but these annoyances won’t have any effect on your new prefinished flooring. You will, however, need to take measures to protect prefinished floors if you have contractors tromping around with tools and equipment en route to other jobs around the house.

Installation in one session. There’s no necessity of staying home to complete the various stages of  an on-site finishing job—sanding, sealing, staining, applying polyurethane and so on. A crew of two had our 300-square-foot solid wood floor installed, with underlayment, in only about two hours.

Prefinished or Unfinished Wood Flooring - Installation

Prefinished flooring usually has bevels on board edges, but that's a small price to pay for its fast, easy, VOC-free installation and durable finish. Photo: Joe Provey

A better finish than what homeowners or contractors can apply on-site. Factory-applied finishes are incredibly durable and often come with a lifetime warranty. The Mullican red oak flooring, shown above, will stay new-looking for longer. It came with a PPG UV-cured resin and nanoparticle coating that is highly scratch- and abrasion-resistant. I can’t even scratch it with my fingernails.

Lower cost. Prefinished solid wood floors initially cost more than unfinished wood flooring—about $2 per square foot for a good grade of red oak. But once you factor in finishing costs, prefinished ends up being less expensive.

Prefinished or Unfinished Wood Flooring - Ash

Unfinished Ash Select Hardwood Flooring. Photo: qualityfloorsdirect.com

Okay, you’ve heard my arguments. But some homeowners and many contractors disagree with me and prefer site-finishing wood floors. Here’s why:

New construction or large renovations. Many contractors prefer to wait until the end of the job to finish the floor. That way, a dropped tool or a mortar pebble under a work boot can’t mar the finished floor—and ruin customer relations.

Greater choice of finishes. There is no question that the site-finished route opens up a greater variety of choices with respect to color and shade. Prefinished products, however, come in more species and stains than ever before.

No bevels. Prefinished floorboards usually have micro-bevels on all edges. These bevels hide slight discrepancies between board depths and widths. Inevitably, some homeowners will prefer the flush look of site-sanded floors, as they feature no such grooves and can be finished to a mirror-like surface.

What’s your preference? Perhaps the hassles of site-finishing will be worth it to you—for one or all of the reasons above. But for homeowners like me, prefinished floors are the future.

For more on flooring, consider:

Rx for Hardwood Floors
How To: Make Your Own Wood Finish
Old Wood Flooring: Replace or Refinish?


Quick and Easy Vinyl Flooring

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Photo: JProvey

My son recently asked for help installing vinyl flooring in his bathroom. So we took a trip to the local home center to pick up materials and supplies. What I found surprised me.

I knew that vinyl flooring had come a long way since the days when I was a young father, but even within the past few years, there have been eye-popping advancements. No more boring patterns or unconvincing imitations of wood, tile, and stone. The products we saw were virtually indistinguishable from ‘the real thing.’ Even better, all we needed to do the job was a carpenter square and a utility knife.

My son chose a rustic pine plank-style flooring, ideal for areas that get wet. (Did I mention my grandson’s penchant for splashing at bath time?) In addition to being waterproof, the vinyl planks had the texture of real wood grain, were heavy enough to feel solid underfoot, and had a convincing look complete with knots and splits.

Related: Bathroom Flooring: A Wealth of Options

The planks were designed to join together at half-lap joints with contact adhesive pre-applied to the mating surfaces. Pressed together and rolled, the planks would form a tight bond.

One thing that hasn’t changed about installing vinyl flooring—or any type of flooring, for the matter—is the need for a perfectly smooth and level underlayment. In this bathroom, the existing underlayment, which was covered with adhesive from floors past, also had some water damage due to a toilet-seal leak. So, with little hesitation, we decided to rip it out and replace it with 1/4″ luan plywood.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring - Damaged Underlayment

Prying Up Damaged Floor Underlayment. Photo: JProvey

Sometimes old underlayment can be reused. This was not one of those times. We tore up the old underlayment using a hefty prybar and banged home the nails left behind.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring - Plywood Patch

Plywood Patch Subflooring Installed Near Toilet. Photo: JProvey

We also removed the damaged top-layer subflooring near the toilet and replaced it with a plywood patch of identical thickness.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring - Install Underlayment

Underlayment Installed with Toilet Drain Cutout. Photo: JProvey

Careful measuring was necessary to make sure floor penetrations would align with cutouts in the underlayment. The hole for the toilet drain, and notches for for valves and piping, were cut with a saber saw.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring - Screwing In Underlayment

Screwing Underlayment to Subfloor. Photo: JProvey

The underlayment was fastened to the subfloor with screws 8″ apart in each direction, and all joints and fastener holes were filled with patching compound. Ring shank nails or staples work well, too. Just be sure that fastener heads are set below the underlayment surface; otherwise they will telegraph through to the finished floor.

Installing vinyl plank flooring

Installing vinyl plank flooring. Photo: JProvey

Perhaps the only tricky part of the job was ensuring that, upon reaching the other side of the room, we didn’t end up with a too-narrow final plank (less than 2″ wide). Upon dividing the width of the room by the plank width of 6″, we found that the remainder—2-1/2″—would indeed be wide enough. If the remainder had been less than 2″, we would have had to ‘rip’ an inch or two off the first plank we put down.

Of course, there is no sawing involved in vinyl plank flooring. To cut the planks, we only had to measure and then score the flooring the back side with a utility knife. Each break was quite clean.

For more on flooring, consider:

How To: Clean Vinyl Flooring
5 Eco-Friendly Flooring Solutions
Bathroom Floor Tile: 9 Top Options


How To: Clean Vinyl Flooring

How to Clean Vinyl Flooring

Photo: Armstrong

Vinyl tile and laminate flooring is attractive, durable, and long-lasting, even under a home’s highest-traffic conditions, but the product is certainly not indestructible. Fortunately, cleaning vinyl flooring is a fairly straightforward and inexpensive process, and with proper care, it’s easy to maintain the material’s eye-catching appearance.

The first step is to try minimizing dirt, stains, and abrasions before they occur. Over time, dirt and dust can wear down and degrade the finish on any type of flooring, including vinyl tile or laminate; therefore it is always a good idea to situate a good-quality doormat or area rug in front of doorways so that grit and grime don’t migrate into the house.

Another helpful hint is to use a sheet of plywood or paneling any time you need to move furniture across the floor; this will help prevent scuff marks or tears in the vinyl. You also may want to use vinyl coasters under the feet and legs of your furniture to safeguard against permanent indentations.

Related: Green Clean: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products for Your Home

mopping vinyl floor with mop and soapy water

Photo: agentleplacetoland.com

When it comes to cleaning vinyl flooring, you can’t go wrong with plain water and a sponge mop! Always wipe up spills as soon as possible, and mop frequently with plain water. For more intensive cleaning, here are a few tips and techniques:

• Always vacuum or dry mop the floor to remove surface dirt, dust, and hair before moving on to wet cleaning; make sure you get under furniture, in corners, and along baseboards.

• One of the best cleansers for vinyl flooring is apple cider vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar helps remove dirt and grime without leaving a buildup of soap or wax. Simply mix one cup of cider vinegar with a gallon of hot water and use a damp mop to clean, rinsing the mop frequently with hot water. Substitute white vinegar for cider vinegar if you want to disinfect as you clean. If your floor is especially dirty, try adding a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap to the mixture before mopping once with the soap mixture, a second time with vinegar and water. To add shine to your vinyl floor, add a few drops of baby oil to the vinegar and water solution.

bottle of Heinz apple cider vinegar• For stubborn scuffs, try putting some WD-40 lubricant or jojoba oil on a towel and rub the area until the scuffs disappear. Clean thoroughly with the vinegar and water solution to remove any traces of lubrication.

• For food stains from grape juice, mustard, ketchup, tomato sauce and the like, make a paste of baking soda and water and gently rub the stain until it disappears. Clean thoroughly to remove any traces of baking soda.

• A soft, nylon-bristle brush can help remove many types of stains, especially when used with common household solvents. Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove lipstick, hair dye, and ink stains. Use mineral spirits to remove crayon, paint, and marker stains. Use a nail polish remover that contains acetone to remove nail polish stains.

There are a few areas of caution and products to avoid when it comes to cleaning vinyl flooring:

• When vacuuming vinyl, do not use a “beater bar” attachment; this can damage the flooring surface.
• Never use highly-abrasive scrubbers or steel wool.
• Do not use detergents, abrasive cleaners, or “mop and shine” products, because these can leave a dull film on the floor.
• Do not use paste wax or solvent-based polishes.
• Do not use ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning solutions on vinyl flooring; these can break down the material and cause cracks in the flooring.

Some commercial cleaners are specially designed for vinyl floors. These include Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner; Pledge Tile & Vinyl Floor Cleaner and Pledge Tile & Vinyl Floor Finish with Future Shine; and Armstrong’s Once ‘n Done Resilient and Ceramic No-Rinse Floor Cleaner and Armstrong Shinekeeper Polish.

With just a little time and elbow grease, vinyl flooring will take years of use and abuse and still look lovely.

For more on cleaning, consider:

How To: Clean Slate
How To: Clean Concrete
How To: Clean Painted Walls