Laminate floors are often used as an affordable wood alternative because they have the same look and feel as hardwood. Laminate flooring is usually created with a very thin layer of real wood placed between layers of resin. Many homeowners find laminate floors more durable and easier to care for than actual hardwood floors.
The look of the two materials is where the similarities end, however. When it comes to finishing laminate flooring, you don't want to treat it the same way you would hardwood.
Putting Polyurethane on Laminate
Applying a coat of polyurethane is a common way to finish hardwood floors—it keeps moisture out of the cracks and grain of the wood, which prevents swelling and preserves the natural look of the hardwood. Polyurethane sticks well to real wood and creates an invisible layer of protection to the floors to protect them against scratching, staining, and wear. However, polyurethane doesn't have a similar effect on laminate flooring.
While you can add a layer of polyurethane to laminate flooring, it's really not the best material to use. Polyurethane doesn't stick well to laminate floors, which are already covered in resin because of the way laminate is made. You can't sand down laminate in order to get the polyurethane to stick, so there's no way to improve the cohesion between the two. Polyurethane simply isn't a good option for laminate floors, but you can seal them in other ways to keep them looking great for as long as possible.
Sealing Laminate Floors
To prevent moisture from seeping in between the cracks of laminate floors, you can always use a crack sealer. Look for sealers that are specifically designed to work on laminate so you can ensure that you get a strong bond between the laminate and the sealer you use. You'll apply this directly to the cracks between laminate floorboards or tiles. Wipe away the excess to give your project a neat, finished look. You want to allow the sealant to settle and dry for 24 hours before you use your floors.
You can also get a special laminate coating to apply directly to your laminate floors. These coatings are designed just for laminate to preserve the look and help prevent scratches and stains.
Touching Up Your Floors
If your laminate floors do become dull or damaged, you can always try to repair these issues with a touch-up kit. Get a special laminate touch-up kit and follow the directions to apply laminate restorer directly to the problem area.
By its nature, laminate flooring stands up to ordinary wear and tear. It's low-maintenance, easy to clean, and withstands heavy foot traffic and daily use. Because of the way it's made, laminate flooring doesn't need any additional treatment after it's been put in place. So you don't actually have to seal your laminate floors or give them any additional treatment. Even without any extra care, laminate floors will stay beautiful and withstand daily use far better than most hardwood floors.
Adding sealers and special coatings to laminate floors can actually make them highly slippery, which is a hazard. Most laminate flooring isn't designed to be sealed and doesn't need to be sealed. The resin coating that's already used on laminate provides plenty of protection against scratches, stains, and wear.
If you see that your laminate floors are looking dull and want to give them extra shine, try a specialized laminate floor cleaning product. These products are designed to restore the sine to laminate and fix dull areas to make your floors look like new again.
You can add polyurethane to your laminate floors, but there’s no reason that you'd want to! It won’t work all that well, and there are much better ways to get the pretty, gleaming look you want for your laminate floors, whether they’ve been damaged or simply dulled over time.