How to Protect Your Floors In The Winter
When people think of the winter months, usually the first thought that pops up is the holidays and festivities that come with the season. Then the second thought that pops up is the cold. For most people, winter means cold weather, snow, and water being trekked in to homes. All that, plus scratches from snow melting materials such as salt and flooring gaps are some of the problems that people with hardwood floors have to worry about.
Luckily, you can stop these problems before they pop up with some preventative maintenance.
Stay on top of preventing damage from salt and water
When the weather outside is snowing, people will be bringing in snow and snow melting materials inside with them. Some of the damage that your wooden floors will endure are:
- Any abrasive snow melting particles such as salt and sand will scratch your wooden floors if they are dragged on it.
- Dried salt will leave white residue on the floor.
- Water from melted snow can damage the finish of your floor.
The best way to protect your floors from damage is to:
- Place mats near all entrances that lead from outside to inside the house. This will help reduce the amount of snow and salt getting tracked in.
- Ask your guests to take off their shoes and leave them on the mat by the door.
- Vacuum often, especially by the entryways to remove any salt and sand.
The gaps are normal
During the winter months, when the heater is cranked up and the humidity in the air drops, your wooden floors will respond to this. They will contract when the humidity in the air decreases, leaving thin cracks or gaps between the planks. This usually happens in the harsher winters, when the air is really dry.
Besides increasing the moisture content in your house to lessen the gaps, there’s no foolproof solution to preventing it altogether. The contraction is the wood’s natural reaction to the environment. Some ways to help reduce the amount of gaps are:
- Use a humidifier in rooms where gaps have appeared to try and increase the humidity in that area.
- Use a furnace humidifier to increase the humidity of your entire home.
However, most homeowners with wooden floors will have to deal with this until spring. Once the heater gets turned off and the humidity in the house increases, the floors will expand again.
Education is key
Knowing what to expect out of your wooden floors during the winter months will give you better knowledge on what to do when your floors start reacting to the cold, drier air. As long as you do your part in helping prevent excessive damage to your hardwood floors by cleaning them frequently, putting strategically placed rugs near entryways and advising your guests to take off their shoes when coming inside, you will do your part in helping leave the snow, salt and sand where it belongs: outside.