As the winter season rolls around again, it’s time for the fall equivalent of a ‘spring clean’, ensuring your home is well-equipped to survive the harsher weather without damage or strain. Preparing for winter can involve many tasks, but one area people often neglect to protect is their flooring. Yet, ironically, this is one of the most important parts of your home to take care of – damaged flooring can be expensive to replace, and it causes all sorts of problems including flooding and structural damage. Protecting your floors in winter will require different approaches depending on the type of material you have, from laminate flooring to hardwood, to carpeting. However, the principles remain the same: act now to protect your floors, and you will reap the benefits for the season and year to come.
Throughout winter, many people across the country choose to put their thermostats onto a timer. This is a great way to save money, particularly if you tend to be out of the house for work most of the day. However, the constant drops and rises in temperature caused by this can have a serious effect on laminate flooring, leading it to crack, peel, and curl, at the very least. To solve these temperature swings, try to keep your thermostat on a more even keel, leading to a more consistent temperature within your home through the winter.
Keep it Clean
You might think that snow and rain are the most damaging elements that winter will bring into your home. However, there are other more damaging issues! As your winter boots pick up moisture, they’re also more likely to pick up dust, sand, and other abrasive elements. These track into your home, the snow or rain then melts or evaporates, and you are left with tiny particular of scratchy debris that can rub against your flooring every time you walk over them. Make sure to minimize this damage by cleaning your floors at least once a week, getting rid of the debris before it can accumulate. Read more on the best ways to clean laminate floors.
Though debris is an unfortunate side effect, simply bringing extra moisture into your home can still be problematic for laminate flooring, despite their durability. It might be a good idea to cover certain areas with mats and rugs to help stop the accumulation of water in any quantities that could prove damaging.
Hardwood floors are particularly susceptible to water damage following a constant influx of snow and rainwater. Damp can create cracks in the wood that widen over time, ultimately damaging them to a point where it can be very difficult to fix. Help solve this problem by providing adequate facilities at your front door for wet shoes to be removed, scraped, and dried on mats and trays before they come into contact with the floor.
Just like laminate flooring, hardwood materials are also susceptible to the temperature changes caused by thermostats and the erratic winter weather. Alongside the excess moisture, cold dry winter air can make wood shrink and expand. To combat this, keep your house at a regular temperature as much as possible – and a regular humidity level by investing in a humidifier or a dehumidifier, depending on your location and situation.
If you haven’t already treated your hardwood floor to a protective varnish, now is the time. Varnishing and waxing can add a much-needed layer to your floors, preventing them from getting badly scratched or damaged by daily wear-and-tear.
Just like hardwood and laminate flooring, carpets are very sensitive to elements like snow and rain, alongside the added mud and dirt that comes with wet weather. In fact, carpets are probably the worst culprit of all when it comes to susceptibility to mold, stains, and bacteria. For this reason, it’s important to vacuum regularly and steam-clean when you can, ensuring nothing gets a chance to settle into your carpets and develop into a greater problem.
Often, the mud and dirt that will be deposited onto your carpets will come from the area immediately outside your home. You can solve two problems in one by ensuring this outside area – your driveway, for example – is kept free of the worst snow, mud, and rotting leaves; all the culprits that can cause issues for your carpets. Shovel snow away before it melts and turns into mud that your family can track around your house. You can also read our detailed guide on how to clean carpets.
Finally, it’s always worth checking which areas are going to have the most foot traffic, and ensuring these carpeted routes and protected using mats, runners, and even plastic coverings. This is particularly useful around entranceways and doors. It might not look pretty, but it’s particularly effective if you’re holding large gatherings to hugely reduce potential damage to your carpets.