• The good thing about laminates is that they are relatively maintenance-free. Their plastic or hard-surface finish makes them resistant to staining and moisture. On a daily basis, cleanse laminated surfaces with a mild soap-and-water solution using a clean, soft cloth. Alternatively, you can use ready-made cleaners to do so.
• Although they aren’t scratch-proof, laminates are more resistant to abrasion than veneers. Scratches are easily visible and can’t be repaired. In extreme cases, the laminate sheet will have to be replaced. But with some smart planning, you get the most out of laminated surfaces.
• Choose dark shades for heavy traffic areas such as kitchen countertops, as stains are less visible. As far as scratches go, they are equally visible on dark and light surfaces. However, the dirt that tends to collect in these nicks is more visible on a light-colour laminate.
• Hot containers can cause irreparable scorching and even melting of the laminated surface. So use a coaster or a place mat while placing hot objects on a laminated surface.
• While having the surface made, specify a rolled edge or a laminate trim in another colour along the counter edge. This will eliminate the black edging line between the two planes and protect the edges from peeling off.
• Avoid using abrasive cleaners such as steel wood on laminated surfaces. Stick to soft sponges and fibre-based products.
• Because it is made from natural wood, veneer requires regular maintenance. In addition to daily dusting, it also requires occasional waxing and polishing. Wax forms a protective layer over the veneer and helps prevent liquids from seeping in. Make sure you wax veneered surfaces once every few months. For this, clean the wood using steel wood. While cleaning, make sure you rub along the grain of the wood. Next, use a clean, lint-free cloth pad to apply the wax on the wood. To ensure that you get a thin, even coating, rub the wax into the surface in a circular motion. Work on a small area at a time and make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After drying, the surface needs to be buffed with a clean cloth.
• Remember, though waxing may be a simple procedure, it needs to be done correctly. The kind of wax to be used depends on the type of the wood, its grain and other related factors. It is advisable to consult an expert before starting the process.
• Over a period of time, the wax used will build up, resulting in a thick layer. This needs to be stripped off. It is best to hire a professional to do so, lest you end up damaging the veneer surface. Similarly, a polish touch-up is best handled by a professional as there are chemicals involved in the process.
Veneer sheets tend to peel off along the edges of tables and countertops. These can be glued back into place. First, use a craft knife to scrape off the old glue and smooth the surfaces using sandpaper. Then glue the surfaces together with carpenter’s glue. Once glued together, use a weight or a clamp to hold the surfaces securely until the glue dries.
Remember, veneers are thin and extremely susceptible to cracks and dents. So, be careful with heavy objects around these surfaces. If it’s dented, the only option is to have the veneer replaced.
(Anagha Kulkarni / Better Interiors)