In the winter, hardwood floors are more vulnerable to damage than during any other season. They take a greater beating due to people bringing in the outdoor elements when they enter your house. Ice and slush can seep into cracks, forming scratches in the coating, and rock salt, that’s spread outside to prevent ice, only worsen the problem. In extreme cases, the floors can ever warp over time, creating a health hazard to unsuspecting walkers.
The snow and ice that people track inside are hard to avoid. Even leaving all affected clothing at the door can present an issue, as the water and affiliated melting agents will sit in the same area for hours at a time and eat away at the varnish instead of spreading out and evaporating more quickly. Even more difficult to avoid is the humidity of the season. Since the outside is cold and people prefer warmer insides, the fluctuating state of temperatures makes the wood fluctuate, as well. Because of the constant small changes, the rigid varnish in hardwood can’t keep up and will start to form cracks that start out as imperceptible. These grow bigger with wear and before most people realize it, the varnish has very noticeable holes that can allow the wood to be damaged quite easily.
The best way to protect a hardwood floor is to remove as much water as possible beforehand. Designate a place at each doorway for wet clothes and shoes to stay in order to dry off, and then cover that place with a large mat or tray.
If you have pets that like going outside, teach them to stop at the door and wait for you to manually dry them off before they can enter. Be prepared to clean up any messes that may still make their way into the house, especially with impatient children or animals hoping to warm up after the cold. Soft towels are an easy and cheap solution, but a vacuum capable of cleaning up wet materials will deal with the problem more directly without further scraping along the floor.
A kit designed to care for hardwood that contains a quality-but-gentle cleaner and soft cleaning surfaces will take the edge off of any mess. We always recommend Bona products, which you can pick up at your local grocery or hardware store. As a last preparation step, check your floor’s warranty. A good warranty that specifically mentions damage from winter elements makes for a good fallback in case an unexpected disaster still occurs despite your best efforts. With all of these resources at your disposal, your hardwood floors will be safe for many winters to come.
Contact Signature Hardwood Floors today for more information about caring for your hardwood floors. Call 410.415.0755 for our office or click here to go to our website. You can also follow our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to stay updated with more information about all of your hardwood flooring needs.