3 Profitable Ways To Be A Wood Laminate Floor Hero

Wood laminate floor in a living room with sofa and fireplace.
Photo Source: Lowes.com

For many years, hardwood floors were the only game in town. If you wanted the rich, warm look of wood floors, you had to shell out a lot of cash for hardwood flooring, plus installation, upkeep and refinishing every 20 years.

The upside was hardwood flooring, with proper care for could last for decades or longer.

The downside was hardwood floors could not be used in basements and bathrooms because of dampness in those rooms.

Hardwood flooring also doesn’t play well with certain types of houses like those built on concrete slabs, which are common in US house construction.

The Wood Laminate Alternative

Over the past 50 years, wood laminate floors have grown in popularity. They’ve become more realistic looking and more durable. Most important, wood laminate floors are easier to care for by homeowners and house cleaners.

Unlike hardwood floors that need special care products and refinishing every 10 to 20 years, wood laminate floors only need regular light maintenance and simple products to look their best for years.

You can be a laminate wood floor hero for your customers if you know:

Hardwood floors vs. Wood Laminate floors: How To Tell The Difference

It’s not as easy as you think to tell the difference between hardwood floors and laminate floors.

Over the years since laminate was introduced, the quality of laminate flooring has improved a great deal.

It is harder and harder to tell them apart by just looking at them.

Take A Quick Test

See for yourself, take a test here (go full screen for a really good look):

According to the Diffen comparison site, there are three ways to tell the difference between hardwood and wood laminate floors:

Examine the grain. Hardwood floor grains are random and so they do not have any repeating patterns. But with laminate floors, you will find patterns repeating every few boards.

How are floorboards attached? Laminate floorboards are often glued together while with hardwood it is more common to find nails or staple holes on the surface.

Look for wear and tear. Natural wood is more prone to dings and scratches so if there are a lot of dents, the floor is more likely to be natural hardwood than laminate.

Similarly, hardwood is more prone to staining and fading. So with hardwood floors you are more likely to find water marks and faded or discolored areas.

Take a deeper look at the difference between hardwood and wood laminate in this short video (2:16) from Slaughterbeck Floors, Inc. in California. They also describe engineered wood flooring.

Why Knowing The Difference Matters

If you know the difference between hardwood and wood laminate floors, you are less likely to use the wrong products, too much water or the wrong tools to clean laminate floors.

With that knowledge, you can show your expertise as a wood floor cleaning specialist during walkthrough meetings with prospective customers.

You’ll be able to follow through with first-rate care of your customer’s laminate floors. Your customers will feel confident that you can clean, maintain and restore their laminate floors to showroom shine.

Becoming known as a wood laminate floor cleaning and restoration specialist gives you one more skill to set you apart from the competition.

Clean And Maintain Wood Laminate Floors

Two words to describe wood laminate floor cleaning are “regular” and “light”.

Wood laminate floors really benefit from daily sweeping, vacuuming or dust-mopping.

Keeping the floors free of grit and dirt is the best way to help maintain their gloss. Beyond that, laminate floors only need damp mopping to keep them in tip-top shape.

Architectural Digest has a list of eleven common sense tips for cleaning wood laminate floors for anyone serious about learning more about laminate floor care.

The only tip I found surprising was number 7. The dish soap tip I’d read before in other articles. However, there seems to be some disagreement about whether to use vinegar on laminate floors from other parts of the internet.

Other articles about wood laminate floors said stay away from vinegar and use rubbing alcohol, water and a few drops of dish soap instead. One article even suggested glass cleaner for wood laminate floors!

Cleaning a wood laminate floor a with a microfiber mop.
House cleaner with a microfiber mop. Photo Source: Microfiberwholesale.com

What I used for years to clean laminate floors was a squirt of Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner in warm water and a well-wrung microfiber mop with no damage to laminate floors. The floors air-dried with a light gloss and no streaking or film.

I knew to avoid ammonia, steam mops, wood polishes or heavy abrasives since all of them can damage the surface of the wood laminate floor.

How To Restore The Shine To Wood Laminate Floors

Sometimes your customer’s wood laminate floors may become dull or streaked. According to Santiago’s Hardwood Flooring in California, there is a 5 step method you can use to restore the shine to their wood laminate floors.

1 Start with a thoroughly vacuuming the wood laminate floor to pick up dust and dirt from the surface. Use a hard floor attachment that does not have a rotating brush that scratches the floor surface.

2 Use a cleaning solution designed for wood laminate floors. Stay away from harsh cleaning solutions like ammonia. Also avoid oil-based cleaners like oil soaps. They can dull the floor.

Santiago’s recommends Bona Hard Surface Floor Cleaner which is designed for cleaning wood laminate, tile, sealed stone and luxury vinyl floors.

3 Working in small sections, spray your cleaning solution directly on the floor. Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the floor for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mop up the sprayed cleaning solution with a well wrung microfiber mop or cloth. Mop or wipe the floor in the same direction as the wood grain.

4 Wring the mop or cloth in warm water before moving on to the next small section of the floor. Better yet, use a fresh wrung mop pad or cloth for the each section of the floor.

5 After you’ve cleaned each section, let the floor air dry. Make sure there are no wet sections. While the floor is drying, don’t walk on the floor.

When the floor is completely dry, look at it in the light. Rub or buff any remaining dull areas with a dry cloth. There is no need for waxing or polishing wood laminate floors.

Get Ready To Glide

Educating yourself about your customer’s wood laminate floors can pay off in both regular maintenance cleaning and in special cleaning projects.

Knowing how to tell the difference between hardwood and wood laminate floors helps you clean laminate floors with the light touch they need to look their best.

Knowing how to restore dull, streaked wood laminate floors to their original shine can be a profitable special project to up-sell to your customers.

All types of wood floors are expensive. Your wood laminate floor knowledge will make you a floor cleaning and restoration hero to your customers.

As a wood laminate floor hero, you can glide all the way to the bank.

Glide to the bank with a stack of dollar bills.

Have you mistaken wood laminate floors for hardwood floors in the past and used the wrong cleaning solutions or methods?

What were the results? How did you correct the mix-up?

Share your story in the comments below. ⬇︎


  1. I love this article! It really is getting harder to the the difference between hardwood and laminate. I have noticed that Murphy’s oil soap does not clean the paw prints off luxury vinyl flooring in one client’s house who has a dog, so now I just use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds or Rejuvenate on all the floors I clean, which does a great job.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for those suggestions. Rejuvenate has a great reputation.
      I’ve stripped and restored marmoleum and vinyl floors. For hardwood floors, I used Bona Hardwood Floor polish.
      Floor restoration has been a great extra cleaning project for me that pays well. Nothing wows a customer more than a floor that’s been scrubbed and restored to its original shine.

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