The winter months are known for pushing our way of life to its limits. Our cars stall, our pipes freeze, our roads crack, even our skin gets dry. These same limits are put to the test when it comes to our hardwood floors. Just like our cars, pipes, roads, and skin require maintenance to ensure its survival through the winter months, our floors do too. Without it, the life and warmth they bring to our homes will fade.
BATTLING SEASONAL ELEMENTS
As you can imagine, the main difference between maintaining your floor in the summer and winter is the ice, snow, and salt that is easily and regularly tracked through your home. Due to these seasonal elements, standard maintenance has to be done more frequently, and preventive measures need to be put in place and monitored throughout the season.
Snow and ice, as with any other liquids and moisture, aren’t good for the long-lasting health and shine of your wood as it warps and discolors the planks. Salt is even harder to contain and clean than water because it gets broken down into tiny unseen particles that easily accumulates on mats and boot trays. They also get wedged between the grooves and cracks in your floor. Frequent cleanings are usually not sufficient to completely eliminate it from your home. However, there are several things you can do to curve its contact with your floors.
- SUMMER UPKEEP
One of the best ways to preserve your floors during winter is to keep up with their maintenance regularly during the summer. You should always clean up spills as quickly as possible to avoid stains and warping. Also, avoid using household cleaners as they can discolor the wood, and take the necessary precautions to prevent scuffs and scratches from shoes and furniture. You should also dust daily to fend off dust mites, protect the floor from heat and UV rays, and polish them often. Keeping up with maintenance throughout the summer is sure to make winter upkeep much easier.
- MATS, MATS, AND MORE MATS
Homes without hardwood floors use mats, if not for necessity, then for decor. With hardwood floors, this is not just a necessity, but specific types of mats are needed, especially in the winter.
It may cost you more than you want to spend, but investing in quality, absorbent, non-slip mats will be worth it in the end. Vinyl or rubber mats just won’t do the trick and can even be a contributing factor to floor damage. Higher quality mats will not discolor your wood and are better able to absorb the snow and ice without dampening the floor underneath.
Throughout the winter, these more durable and absorbent mats should be placed inside and outside all entranceways. When coupled with guests removing their shoes, they can keep the winter elements coming inside to a minimum. Although these kinds of mats are more appropriately suited for the job, they must be cleaned regularly.
In addition to quality mats and guests removing their shoes, it might be beneficial to use other means of melting ice on your property besides salt.
- CLOSE THE GAPS
Just like the cold winter air dries out our skin, it also dries out wood. Dried out wood creates unsightly gaps between the boards. You can reduce this by keeping the relative humidity levels stable in your home. You can easily manage these levels with a humidifier.
- KEEP IT SHINY
A beautiful shiny hardwood floor is not just for appearances. It gives your floor a protective coating that helps with its preservation. If you give your floor a proper and regular cleaning, especially right before winter, it can help to make it a little more resilient to the outside elements. The key to giving it a lasting shine, in addition to regular dusting, is to invest in proper cleaning equipment such as a microfiber mop, a soft-bristled vacuum, adequate hardwood floor cleaner, and a buffing pad.
GET PREPARED FOR WINTER
Winter maintenance might, at times, seem tedious and time-consuming, but it’s the difference between your floor lasting 10 years or 50. Neglected floors can lead to warped, dull, and discolored wood. They also lead to cracks, scratches, expensive and time-consuming replacements, and repairs. If you think a buff and coat or sand and finish is right for your winter preparation needs, contact us, we’ll be more than happy to help.