A cleaning product left smears on this flooring. (Reader photo)

Q: We moved into an apartment that has what I think are laminated floors in the living room, dining area and kitchen. I used Bona to clean them, and the floor in the kitchen wound up smeary-looking and not shiny. How do I know whether it’s a laminated floor or the other kind of “not real” floor? If it is a laminated floor, could I use a Bona spray?


A: The picture you sent shows a plank-style floor, where each piece resembles several strips of traditional hardwood flooring. The planks could be laminate, which is made with a clear protective layer over a decorative layer that’s basically a photograph of wood, backed by particleboard. Or they could be luxury vinyl tile, which is made of PVC vinyl topped by a protective layer. (“Luxury” in the name is a marketing term, but numerous manufacturers use it to distinguish plank-style flooring from sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles. Luxury vinyl tile is also referred to as LVT flooring.)

Luckily, the cleaning regimens for laminate and luxury vinyl tiles are not all that different, said Sonia Gonzalez, a call center specialist for Bona (877-289-2662; us.bona.com), a Swedish company that started out making products related to wood flooring but now makes cleaners for many types. Bona’s Stone, Tile & Laminate Floor Cleaner ($9.49, us.bona.com) works on a wide variety of floors, including both of the types you might have, as well as concrete and marble. “There was just not room to list all of that on the bottle,” Gonzalez said.

You could even use Bona Free & Simple Hardwood Floor Cleaner ($9.99, us.bona.com), she said. “The two products are very much the same. It’s just that the Stone [and] Tile cleaner has a bit of degreaser in it.”

What would leave a floor streaked and dull after it was cleaned with one of these products? It’s probably residue from earlier cleaners, Gonzalez said. Cleaners that contain wax, for example, are not compatible with the two Bona products, she said. To take off wax or other residue, she recommended cleaning the floor with Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner ($11.99, us.bona.com). Then you could switch to one of the gentler cleaners for ongoing maintenance.

Q: The ceilings in our home are textured white paint (paint with sand), purchased at Hechinger (no longer in business) years ago. Is there someone or a company that could remove this type of textured paint and restore the ceilings to a smooth drywall finish? If so, what would be the cost?


A: It’s unlikely that you need to remove the textured paint to get a smooth finish. Instead, a company that specializes in drywall could skim-coat the surfaces with a drywall compound and sand that smooth.

The cost depends partly on how deep the texture is, because that determines how many repeat trips workers would need to make to your home. At a minimum, they would probably need to apply two or three layers of drywall compound, with drying time between each coat, said Melvin Turcios, owner of MelNess Contractors in Washington (240-645-2912; melnesscontractors.com). Other factors affecting the cost include whether the crew needs to move furniture or protect floors and walls. (You could save money by doing some of that yourself.) And the scope of the job also matters, because when a crew can tackle several rooms in one trip, the square-foot cost per trip goes down.

Turcios, like several other drywall contractors contacted, stressed that he cannot give an estimate without visiting a house. But he said that skim-coating a textured ceiling in a room about 10 by 15 feet is likely to cost at least $1,500 to $2,000.

The owner of Timur Construction in Arlington (202-321-3517; timurconstruction.com), Timur Akhmerov, looked at the picture you sent and also estimated that it would take two or three coats of drywall compound, plus sanding, for a total of three to four visits. He estimated the cost of treating a single room at about $1,500.