Hardwood is one of the most popular materials used in the USA, Europe, and in some parts of Asia for flooring. It is especially popular in colder areas because wood is a poor heat conductor and thus helps in trapping the heat inside the home environment effectively.
However, hardwood is comparatively less durable and less sturdy than stone flooring. So, it requires better protection than other types of floors. If you do not take proper precautions, your expensive hardwood floor can get easily damaged in the coming winter months.
Here are some tips to protect the hardwood flooring in winter.
1. Wipe your feet while returning from the outside:
It seems unfair if your beautiful floor is getting dirt and moisture from your shoes after you’ve been outside in snow or rain. Water is an antagonist for hardwood flooring and even a very small amount of water or moisture can damage the flooring significantly. It can dull the varnish of the floor and can break the boards. If the situation is repeated regularly, or the minor damages are left untreated, permanent and irreparable damage might occur very fast.
An effective solution for protecting your hardwood floor is to place floor mats both inside and outside of the entrances of the house and wipe your shoes before entering. You can also use a waterproof tray to soak the moisture and put a towel next to the tray to dry off the remaining moisture. Alternatively, you can have a walk-in shoe closet where you remove your outside shoes and wear indoor ones before entering. Also, request your visitors to do the same.
2. Clean gently and regularly:
When it comes to hardwood floor damages, it seems that the shoes are the main culprits most of the time. Rough materials that attach to our shoes, like mud, snow, dirt and salt crystals being abrasive in nature can cause marks and scratches on your attractive floor. Gentle and effective cleaning is the solution here. While some use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean up the salt stains, we do not recommend it because vinegar being acidic can cause even further damage. Using a mild floor-cleaning soap with warm water is a good way to go. If you have an oiled finish floor, there are special products that you must use and some items you cannot use, in order to keep your floors looking beautiful. Always check with your flooring manufacturer for their recommended brands and products.
Cleaning regularly is also important. Even a very little bit of dirt and water can do permanent damage to your floors. So always try to use a standard broom and vacuum for every day cleaning. First, pick up the dirt and debris with brush and/or broom and then use a vacuum cleaner. Regular drying, sweeping and damp mopping with a neutral, manufacturer-approved cleaner can make hardwood last for decades.
3. Maintain an even room temperature:
A sudden change in temperature from hot to cold can affect the hardwood flooring. In winter, the weather becomes inconsistent due to fluctuations in temperature and moisture. If it is cold outside, shut down all the windows and doors to trap the heat inside and also to reduce the moisture level of the indoor environment. However, ensure that you maintain uniform humidity indoor as too low moisture levels will result in the hardwood planks to shrink creating gaps and inconsistencies between the floorboards.
4. Install a humidifier:
To control the above-mentioned issue with temperature and humidity, consider installing a premium-quality humidifier in your house. It is better if you can get a portable humidifier for your home. Ensure that the humidifier you have chosen provides good air circulation. The most favorable range of humidity is between 40%-60% and maintaining a level in this range is the best way to go.
5. Use carpets:
Using rugs/carpets is the best way to protect the surface of your hardwood flooring. In winter months, they not only give you warmth and comfort, but also save the floors from physical damages, scratches, and to some extent, water and moisture.
6. Be more attentive to the flooring if you have pets:
If you happen to have one or more pets in your house, there’s a good chance for your beloved pet to ruin your valuable hardwood floor accidentally, or due to roughhousing. Firstly, large and sharp pet nails can rip into fabrics or hard surfaces. To prevent this, trim the nails of your pet/s regularly. Secondly, animal poop and pee can cause quick and permanent damage to your wooden floors if not attended quickly enough. So, even if those innocent little creatures have an accident here and there, the best thing for you to do is clean it up promptly. Lastly, pets tend to drag slush in your home. Train them well if you are not okay with it (and perhaps allow them a little more outdoor time with their favorite things like mud and sticks).
When it comes to protecting your hardwood flooring, being careful and attentive is the best option for you. All flooring materials have their own sorts of pros and cons. Knowing what works best for your floor and taking the necessary steps are very important to improve the longevity and get the most out of your hardwood flooring.