How to get spots, scuff marks and other gunk off your floors

Consumer Reports News: March 04, 2013 10:08 AM

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Most flooring comes with some specific maintenance do's and don'ts. (Don't use ammonia-based cleaners on wood, for example.) But how do you remove chewing gum, wax, and other messes? Here are some tips from the experts at Consumer Reports.

Gum and wax. On wood, cover the stain with a sealed ice pack to make it brittle enough to break off in pieces. Do the same on plastic laminate, vinyl, or linoleum, but be especially careful when scraping it off. (Try a plastic scraper or a credit card.) And on any flooring, finish the job by wiping the area clean with a damp cloth to get up any residue.

Oil, paint, marker, lipstick, ink, tar. On vinyl, use a clean cloth dampened with warm water and detergent; on wood and plastic laminates, use some nail-polish remover. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, steel wool, and heavy-duty scouring pads on any flooring.

Minor scratches and chips. Some hardwood-flooring manufacturers offer color-blended filler you can use to hide small scratches and dings. If a small area of hardwood flooring is worn, try sanding and refinishing the area. But heavily damaged pieces might need to be replaced, especially plastic laminate, which can't be sanded or refinished. (The damaged piece will have to be chiseled out and a new one inserted.) On all floors, try a color-matched felt marker for small scratches.

Scuff marks. An eraser might remove shallow marks on all floors. But be sure to test it on a hidden area first.

Top flooring from our tests
In Consumer Reports flooring tests, we evaluate how well different flooring types resist stains, scratches, dents and fading as well as how it holds up under heavy foot traffic. Our top-rated prefinished solid-wood flooring, the EcoTimber Woven Honey WBH061, resisted dents better than other solid floors in our tests and had superb resistance to scratches and stains. Our top engineered wood flooring, the Teragren Synergy Strand with Xcora Java, had superb resistance to scratches, stains, and color change from UV light and resisted the effects of foot traffic better than most engineered flooring. But like other engineered products, it dents relatively easily.

The top plastic laminate flooring in our tests was the Armstrong Coastal Living L3051 White Wash Walnut. Its excellent resistance to the effects of foot traffic, scratches, stains, and fading in sunlight helped put the Armstrong at the top of its category. When it comes to toughness, vinyl flooring is tops overall. Strong resistance to foot traffic, scratches, stains, dents, spills, and fading in sunlight make vinly a good bet for busy kitchens. Our top scorer was the Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate SI-74 Golden Greige.

Adapted from Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide.

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