In our previous articles we compared the costs and durability of wooden floors to ceramic or porcelain wood effect tiles. There are other issues to be taken into consideration when making your purchase.
In this post, we look at the problems faced when it comes to cleaning. And because cleaning usually involves water, let’s first see what horrors can befall these products when exposed to large amounts at the one time.
Water Damage from Floods or Leaks
Should you be unfortunate to have a large domestic appliance flood your floor, you’ll be wishing it had not happened all over your solid or engineered planks. In the event that a large quantity of water leaks onto, and thus between and under, your planks, as an organic material, the wood will absorb enough of the water to ensure warping, and expansion which will lead to buckling. This means only one thing – a new floor. In the best case scenario it will cause the wood to “cup” or split – not good.
Certain laminate floors can survive, but only if the mounting board is produced from water resistant materials. These versions of the products are recommended for kitchen and bathroom areas. If not, then these floors will also become casualties.
Wood Effect Floor Tiles
Ceramic tiles have such a low absorbency rate that they can easily withstand exposure to water in this manner. The only problem you may find, in the short run, is grout discolouration, and you might need to apply one of the many restorative products that are available on the market. These are reasonably inexpensive and should soon bring your floor back to its original state.
One thing you might observe if the grout had not been applied properly is that water can seep into the body of the tile, and darken the clay. This can manifest itself as “tramlines”, a dark frame visible around the surface of the tile, about 3 or 4 cm thick. The water has found a way through a joint and is absorbed by the tile. However, this is not an issue of concern; as the wood effect tile dries out, the clay returns to its regular dry colour and the appearance of the tile returns to normal.
Remember, it is not without good reason that swimming pool designers have long used tiles – they are not merely decorative, they are protective too.
Cleaning Wood Effect Tiles
Cleaning tiles is simple – warm water is all you need. You will not damage your wood effect tiles if this is all you do. You could perhaps use a mild detergent, and rinse afterwards, if there is something significant that needs to be removed from your tile surface. In the case of an extreme spillage, such as tar, you might need a mild acid based cleaner to break it down. Check first in an inconspicuous area of you floor that it will not damage the glaze (it shouldn’t).
The grout will not be damaged by water, but again, if there is discolouration over time, there are many products which you can use to clean and revive your joints.
Cleaning Timber Floors
Timber floors, however, can be damaged by water when cleaning, and indeed the act of cleaning can scratch your floor – so be careful. If you decide a big bucket of water and an old string mop is the way to go, then you’re asking for trouble. Here are a couple of tips for cleaning your wooden floors:
- Use a microfiber dust pad first, one with a long handle, and go up and down the floor in the same pattern as if mowing your lawn. It’s important not to lift the head from the floor if at all possible, as any larger fragments trapped underneath are liable to scratch the floor as you push.
- Vacuum around the perimeter of the room at the skirting boards.
- Using a mist sprayer, lightly cover a section of your floor with water or a recommended cleaner formulated for wood. It should be damp, not wet.
- Using a different pad, and following the grain of the wood, mop over the water or cleaner, until it is practically dry.
- Once again, never pour a bucket of water on your timber floor in an effort to speed the job up.
Following this brief guide will help preserve your floor and extend its lifespan.
To Wrap Up:
It’s important to evaluate all the consequences of selecting either a wood effect tile or natural flooring. We hope this series of blog posts on the topic provides you with all the information you need to make an informed choice.
Note that all the images above are of wood effect tiles, and you'll find our full selection of wood effect tiles here.