- 1 of 1 Photos | View More Photos
(NAPS) When it comes to making your home more attractive to potential buyers, one of the most important considerations is right at your feet: the floor. According to Realtors and home inspectors, quality flooring is more likely to increase your home's value than the roof, windows, even room additions.
Fortunately, increasing the value of your home doesn't have to mean replacing your floors. The upside of flooring is that it can be one of the most valuable commodities in a house and one of the least expensive to maintain and improve. A few simple techniques suggested by the experts at the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), that cost virtually nothing but your time, may help extend the life of your flooring:
Easy Care Advice on Hardwoods
For natural flooring such as wood, never use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps. They will dull the finish and performance of the floor. These products will also affect the ability to recoat your floor at a future point in time.
Since wood naturally expands when it's wet, never wet mop or use excessive water to clean a hardwood floor. Large amounts of water can make the wood swell and may cause planks or strips to crack or splinter. Be sure to wipe up any spills on hardwood promptly.
Pets with long nails can cause dents and scratches on hardwood floors that are not covered by your warranty. Be sure to regularly trim your pet's claws to avoid damage.
You may not realize it, but carpet is the largest filter in a home. It filters soils, gases, allergens, spills and other pollutants. With this in mind, vacuum it regularly.
To avoid running into warranty issues with your carpet (and many other types of flooring), make sure you use cleaning products recommended by the floor's manufacturer.
Be Smart About Ceramics,
Stone and Vinyl
Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible on ceramic floors so the grout or tile doesn't become stained. Don't use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners, as these can discolor your grout. Don't clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners. While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it's not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force.
With ceramic floors, after the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the entire floor can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process.
With vinyl floors, avoid using rubber-backed mats or rugs as they can damage and potentially discolor your floor. Instead, use mats or rugs made especially for vinyl floors.
With stone floors, always blot spills immediately. A neutral-pH detergent or pure soap, such as Liquid Ivory and warm water, can be used for spills or periodic cleaning. Never use lemon juice, vinegar, ammonia or other acids--or products that contain these fluids--on marble, limestone or travertine. Also avoid using scouring cleaning products or cleaners that contain abrasives on any stone as they will dull its luster.
Limit Sun Exposure
Protect the finish of your laminate, hardwood, carpet and resilient floor from the harmful rays of direct sunlight by using window shades and closing drapes. It's also a good idea to periodically rotate rugs and furniture exposed to direct sunlight so your floors don't develop unwanted "tan lines" and discoloration.
When It's Time for New Flooring
Even the best care can't keep your floors at their best forever. If you're thinking of getting new flooring but are concerned about the possible cost, consider these two ideas:
1. You don't have to redo all your floors at once. Research shows that the first two areas of a home potential buyers look at are the kitchen and the bathroom. New floors there can make a powerful first impression.
2. It's a common myth that flooring needs to be expensive to add value. The truth is that kitchens can be patterned with inexpensive floor tiles for a customized effect. Similarly, adding accent tiles in a bathroom can make it appear more finely detailed and attractive. If you do decide upgraded floors are in order, it's very likely your kitchen and bathrooms do not take up a lot of square footage, which means relatively small investments in actual flooring product. That translates into big impact for very little cost.
"Money invested to upgrade replacement floor covering, particularly in kitchens and baths, prior to reselling a house can be expected to return substantially more than 100 percent of the cost of renovation," said Scott Humphrey, Chief Executive Officer, WFCA. "For example, if homeowners invest $5,000 to replace worn-out floor coverings and then list their home on the market, they should factor in an extra $10,000 to $15,000 on the selling price. We've seen this time and time again for homes of all values in markets across the country."
What's more, for every $1,000 spent on upgraded flooring and financed into the mortgage, the buyer's payment typically increases by less than $10 a month. The new floors can usually be written off during the first few years of the mortgage.
For further facts and tips on caring for all types of fine flooring, go to www.WFCA.org. There, you'll find an overview of each flooring category including the pros and cons, a product catalog, varieties and styles available, cleaning tips, things to consider before purchase and how to prepare for installation. There's also a searchable database of reputable WFCA retail members across the country.