The winter is in a full swing! Whether it’s snowing, raining, or just brutally cold where you are, winter weather subjects your hardwood flooring to a lot of stress.
Why can winter be harsh on your hardwood floors?
– Excess water. When you come indoors from a snowy or rainy outside, you are tracking in water and dirt on your shoes and clothes. On tile or linoleum water will just make a mess, but on hardwood and carpet, it can cause more serious problems, such as warping, gaping, or mold.
– Dangerous debris. Salt and sand are commonly used to melt snow and if they get inside your home, they can easily scratch hardwood and damage protective finishes.
– Temperature variation. The cooler it gets outside, the higher we turn up our thermostats. However, in efforts to save energy we often turn the heat down at night or when no one’s home. This, plus occasional drafts from open doors make flooring temperature fluctuate on a daily basis. Hardwood in particular reacts to temperature and humidity changes by expanding and contracting, which may cause gaping, buckling, and even cracking.
How to care for your floors in winter
Stop the mess at the door
Doormats are your best friends during winter. Place them on each side of the doorway and in high-traffic areas. Choose abrasive mats for outdoors to loosen up and remove debris and absorbent mats for indoors to trap moisture and dirt. Don’t forget to keep them clean! A dirty, soggy mat will only make matters worse, so wash them or switch out frequently.
Keep an eye on pets and kids
Both kids and pets easily get wet and dirty while playing outside. While kids will listen and clean themselves off before coming in per your request, dogs will run straight through an open door. Whenever possible, wait till your dog shakes off snow or rain outside, so that you don’t end up with wet drops all over your furniture, electronics and flooring. Also, keep a towel handy next to the door to wipe the dirty paws (unless you taught your dog to use a mat).
Designate a place for wet stuff
Whenever people come in wearing wet shoes or kids return all wet after playing in the snow, make sure everyone knows what to do with their wet clothes and footwear. Set up a wet shoe tray or a drying rack; as for the clothes, you can hang them in the bathroom so they drip in a tub and not on your floors.
Use humidifiers/dehumidifiers to maintain healthy humidity
Ideal humidity levels in a home range between 40% and 60%. Typically, the winter air is dry because of all the heating devices we use to stay warm. Increase humidity by running a humidifier to prevent your Maryland hardwood floors from shrinking and forming gaps between the boards.
Keep the outdoor walkways clean
The less dirt and debris there is outside, the less you’ll track inside. Wash off muddy trails and leaves from your driveway and walkway. After the snow melts, be sure to sweep the excess salt and remove it from your path.
Clean the mess as it happens
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, wet and dirty shoes and paws still make it across your house. One of the most common scenarios: as soon as you stepped out, you realize you forgot something, but the shoes are already wet and there’s no time to take them off. If you made a mess, find the time to wipe it immediately. If someone else left wet footprints and you noticed only after they dried, still clean the spot as it probably has dirt and sand even if they are not visible.