Vinyl plank flooring, also known as luxury vinyl plank (LVP) or luxury vinyl floor (LVF), is manufactured in long strips rather than traditional square tile shapes or roll-out alternatives. Although it is versatile and exceptionally durable, be sure never to use a steam mop for cleaning vinyl surfaces.
I intend to inform you of the damage that will occur to your flooring should your floor be exposed to the high heat necessary for a steam mop to function.
I will also outline a clear and instructional cleaning and maintenance program for you to follow to enjoy the whole life of your luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring.
We will begin with a basic understanding of vinyl plank composition, giving it the semi-resistant properties that make it so attractive. Then, you will read on to understand its two installation methods.
The rest of the article will deliver take-home tips for cleaning and care, along with repair instructional’s, should you ever be faced with an unsightly feature in your flooring.
Table of Contents
A traditional vinyl plank consists of four main layers:
- Wear Resistant Layer is a transparent top coating that helps prevent scratches, stains, and fading.
- Printed Decoration Layer exposes a thin digital image with the desired appearance adhered to the vinyl core.
- Vinyl Core is a flexible vinyl core that comprises approximately 90 percent of the total thickness of the floor plank. This core provides water resistance.
- Backing Layer is the vinyl finishing layer that provides additional water resistance and prevents mold and mildew.
You can install vinyl plank flooring with either the glue-down method or the do-it-yourself floating click-lock system. In either case, remember to keep any heat sources away from your flooring, as it could cause irreversible damage to the vinyl composition.
If you use a steam mop on a glue-down installation, the glue used to adhere the vinyl to its subfloor will melt. Likewise, on a floating click-lock system, the steam emitted from the mop head will seep into potential gaps and cracks as the ‘locking’ feature of the plank is not sealed.
Whichever installation method you select, the heat of the steam mop will cause irreversible damage such as delamination, warping, swelling, and joint-line separation to the vinyl surface.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Vinyl Plank Flooring? Say NO!
Although steam cleaning is a preferred cleaning method due to its ability to kill germs quickly on many flooring types, it will destroy your vinyl plank flooring.
Steam mops heat water from a reservoir inside the mop to a temperature generally between 212 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The steam produced penetrates the vinyl planks and causes damage to its fibrous core.
Moisture damage deteriorates the vinyl and promotes the growth of mold and mildew. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, mold, and mildew are essentially both fungi.
To protect your flooring investment, do not use steam mops on unsealed floors. You should first consult your flooring manufacturer before using a steam mop, even if you do not have vinyl plank flooring.
How Do I Clean My LVP?
With the proper cleaning and maintenance program, you will be able to enjoy your luxury plank flooring for years to come. However, if you don’t perform regular maintenance on your floors, your home or office space will begin to take on an older, scruffier look.
It would be best if you cleaned dust, dirt, and other foreign debris from your floors regularly. If there is a spill of sticky or other oily substances on your luxury vinyl, clean it up immediately; otherwise, it will become much harder to tackle.
Dust, dirt, spills, and debris cause scratches, scuff marks, discoloration, and dull designs to remove that ‘luxury’ appeal from your vinyl plank flooring.
Would you please read on to learn about cleaning tips in further detail?
Cleaning Tips for Keeping the Luxury in LVP
Here is a quick list of best practices to follow so that your vinyl plank floors will keep their glamour year after year, no matter what life throws on them.
- Sweep on a regular (daily) basis when possible.
- Spot clean accidents or other harsh spills immediately.
- Mop your vinyl plank flooring once a week.
- Don’t use harsh cleaners on your floor.
- Apply a vinyl floor sealant if necessary.
- Please do your best to prevent scuffs and scratches.
Let us take a closer look at each of the above tips with specific advice, tools, and tricks to use along your vinyl plank flooring journey.
1. Sweep on a regular (daily) basis when possible.
Alternatively, you may use a vacuum or microfiber mop pad as your daily tool of choice. Remember, if you use a vacuum, first raise or remove the beater bar entirely not to cause undue trauma to your floors.
2. Spot clean accidents or other harsh spills immediately.
Acidic liquids and chemicals can cause stains and discoloration on your vinyl plank floors. Although LVP has a wear-resistant coating, use soft cloths or a soft bristle brush (for tougher stains) to remove unwanted substances from the vinyl.
3. Mop your vinyl plank flooring once a week.
For your weekly wet cleaning, choose a mop of your choice. You cannot go wrong with a flat mop, sponge mop, or more traditional string mop.
Remember that you want to employ a tool that releases the minimum amount of wetness possible.
4. Don’t use harsh cleaners on your floor.
Stick to using just plain warm water for your weekly wet cleaning routine. However, if there is a little more grime than usual, you can add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to your gallon fill of water.
According to Bob Vila, substitute white vinegar for cider vinegar to disinfect as you clean. In addition, Bob offers various tricks of the trade to homeowners faced with stains and scuffs on their luxury vinyl plank floors.
5. Apply a vinyl floor sealant if necessary.
There may come a time that your vinyl plank flooring will need a facelift. Whether your floor is low or high-gloss vinyl, be sure only to use the manufacturer’s recommended vinyl sealant to restore the eye-catching appeal that your original floors had.
6. Please do your best to prevent scuffs and scratches.
Besides sweeping daily, follow these suggestions to preserve the integrity of the wear-resistant layer on your vinyl plank floors:
- Do your best to leave shoes outside to minimize the amount of dust and dirt spilling onto your vinyl floors.
- Never scrub your floors. Always use a soft cloth and wipe spills and stains away gently.
- Use felt pads on the bottom of furniture, so you don’t risk scratching your floor.
Why is LVP Such a Popular Choice?
Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a popular choice for homes and business offices alike. Some beneficial features of this flooring choice include:
- Easy to clean and maintain.
- More comfortable underfoot than tile or other hard surfaces.
- A variety of looks, styles, textures, and colors are available.
- Slip-resistant for safer wet area application.
- Affordable pricing options compared to other flooring types.
- DIY-friendly to install whether you choose the glue-down or floating click-lock system.
How Can You Fix It?
Let us imagine the worst-case scenario: improper care and maintenance, being struck by a heavy object, or some other unlucky circumstance damages your vinyl plank flooring. You can fix it!
Remember to include some extra when you order your favorite vinyl plank flooring. If you follow this advice, you will eliminate the fear of a discontinued model when you need it most.
In this video by Floors by Southern Boys, you can learn how to repair your floating vinyl plank flooring.
Long Live Vinyl Plank Flooring
I am excited about your decision to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in your home or business. It is a decision you will not regret. Would you please commit to a cleaning and maintenance routine as prescribed above?
Some manufacturers offer up to a 25-year warranty on their thicker vinyl plank flooring options. You should expect to enjoy your floor’s entire lifetime, however long that is, dependent upon the quality of the vinyl itself and how well you maintain it.
Remember, one of the most critical take-backs from this article is that you must avoid using a steam mop on your vinyl plank flooring. It will cause foul odors, fungal attacks, and physical degradation to your flooring.
I enjoy hearing about your personal experience with vinyl plank flooring. Would you mind commenting below with any questions or concerns about how you should care for and maintain your preferred LVP?