As good as real wood

LAMINATE flooring is the hottest trend to hit the residential flooring industry in South Africa.

Once a preference and privilege of the affluent, these days you find this flooring in offices and homes in Soweto. And you can't go wrong with the warmth and elegance it brings.

Jose Dos Passos, managing director at Floors Direct, says laminate flooring has become one of the hottest products on the house and home market.

Don Ranaka, a building consultant, attributes this to the recovery of the market. He says many people are enjoying the cost advantages offered by laminate flooring over other flooring products made of stone, wood, ceramics and vinyl.

"In addition, enhanced performance properties such as durability, fade and stain resistance, low maintenance as well as lower price and varied styles, are also helping to drive demand.

Development of glue-less laminates, technological advancements and enhanced moisture resistance are generating interest among end-users. Enhancements in technologies such as embossed registration and texturing is also offering consumers a cost-efficient way of attaining the looks of ceramics, tiles and hardwood," Ranaka says.

Dos Passos says the advantage of laminate flooring is that it is ultra-durable and looks like a real wood or stone floor. But it's less costly than the real thing, easier to install and can last a lot longer.

"Laminate flooring is very durable and can handle almost any stains, spills and dirt, making it the ideal flooring option for entertainment areas," Dos Passos says.

How to take proper care of laminate flooring

l One of the most common floor care basics with laminate flooring is to put soft pads on any furniture, tables, chairs or other piece of furniture.

The most common way to damage a laminate floor is to drag furniture across the surface.

Laminate flooring will tear, scrape and scratch rather easily if you get a sharp corner or metal base caught in it's soft surface.

Take the time to put pads on the bottoms of the furniture and you should not have to worry about damaging your laminate floor.

l Do not use traditional cleaner on your laminate floor. While laminate floors are rather inexpensive, that should not be a reason to cheap out on the floor cleaner.

If you want to keep your laminate floor clean and new looking, use a laminate floor cleaner made for laminate floors. It might cost a little more than standard cleaners, but the money will be saved in damages to your floor.

l Keep the laminate floor swept and mopped. The laminate floor is a soft surface and particles on the floor can dig into the surface when walked on. Sweep your laminate floor daily and use a soft broom.

Do not use scratchy hard brooms on your laminate floor as this can certainly damage the surface. When you mop, use a laminate floor cleaner and a soft mop. In lieu of a mop, a nice t soft rag is a wonderful option to buff the laminate floor clean.

l Consider "spill spots" in your kitchen or bathroom. The front of the sink, fridge and pantry are prime areas where spills and drops usually occur.

If you identify these spots and place a nice durable rug or outdoor carpet of some type in these areas, you can keep the laminate floor safe from drops and spills.

When you do spill something on the laminate floor, make sure that you clean it up immediately.

Leaving spills on the laminate can lead to the spill seeping into the cracks and causing the floor to smell or curl up.

These spills should be dealt with immediately, even if it is just water, to keep your laminate floor looking it's best.