Avoiding Winter Weather Woes

Winter is here – and with the season comes colder temperatures, ice and snow, and the potential for damage to your hardwood floors. But never fear, even when the weather outside is frightful, a few simple steps can help keep your hardwood flooring looking delightful. Read on to learn how proper prevention and regular maintenance can protect your hardwood flooring during the harsh winter months.

An Ounce of Prevention

Pets, children, and other household members can track in mud, snow, water, and salt from the outside. These materials can cause scratches and possibly stains on your floor. Salt especially tends to leave a white, abrasive residue that can scratch up your hardwood surface.

You can avoid these issues by preventing these materials from coming into your home in the first place. Place multiple welcome mats outside and inside your home’s entrances and ask everyone to wipe their shoes before entering. Using breathable throw rugs at doorways and area rugs in high-traffic areas of your home can further help prevent debris from being tracked in and damaging the floor.

Mind the Gap

During the winter months, the humidity and temperatures drop, leading us to turn up the heat in our homes. Wood is an organic material that reacts to its environment. In humid environments, wood gains moisture and can swell. In dry environments, wood loses moisture and can shrink. If the environment in which your wood floors are installed changes drastically, it can cause changes in your floors.

If your floors lose moisture, they can gap or split. This can occur between floorboards or on the face of the boards. Some engineered wood floors can dry-cup when they lose moisture during this dry season.

Gaps and splits can vary in size and are considered to be normal if they appear and disappear during normal seasonal changes. Both of these issues can be minimized by keeping your home between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and between 30-50 percent humidity, year-round. This can be accomplished by utilizing humidification systems. If you experience gaps in your floors that are large or do not close during more-humid months though, it’s time to call a professional, find one here.

Follow a Maintenance Schedule

As much as you can try to prevent any unwanted materials from entering your home, snow, ice, and dirt will inevitably find their way inside. To combat this, make sure to sweep or dust mop your floors frequently and clean up any winter-related messes immediately. If you see a puddle on the floor, soak it up with a towel and don’t let it sit. If you see salt in the water or anywhere on the floor, make sure to take extra precautions when cleaning so that it doesn’t scratch the floor’s surface.

It’s essential to establish a cleaning routine and take measures to prevent everyday wear and tear. Take a look at the National Wood Flooring Association’s recommended maintenance schedule.

Following these tips can also keep your floors in top shape no matter the season. Learn more about the benefits of wood floors and protecting your investment throughout woodfloors.org and download the free Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors here.

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