Protecting Your Floors from Winter Damage

No matter what type of flooring you have in your home, it can be difficult to protect your floors from damage during the winter months. Even if you take precautions, snow, salt and sand will eventually be tracked into your house.

Water can cause mold or warping on carpeting or hardwood floors. Salt can cause chemical reactions that can affect even the most damage-resistant flooring like vinyl and tile. Sand that gets tracked in from outside can scratch softer flooring, such as hardwood, and can accumulate between boards or vinyl tiles, causing floors to warp or individual sections to come loose.

Minimize the amount of snow, salt and sand that gets into your house by removing footwear before you enter and strategically placing a boot rack or rug near the entrance, where wet boots can be left to dry.

Clean up messes right away. The only way to protect your floors is to minimize their exposure to damaging agents. If salt is left on the floor, not only can it cause permanent damage, such as cracks in hardwood floors, it can also leave a film on floors that may be slippery and dangerous.

Vinegar can be used to neutralize the effects of salt. Just remember, if you are cleaning up a hardwood floor, wet a mop or cloth with water and vinegar and wring it out well before applying it to the floor. It should only be damp when applied to the floor. Use of a wet cloth or mop on hardwood is likely to do more harm than good.

Another damaging effect of winter is the cold, dry weather that is typical in most areas of Canada. Hardwood flooring expands and contracts when exposed to large fluctuations in humidity. If you are unable to control the humidity fluctuations in your home, you risk your hardwood floors becoming buckled and cracked.

Engineered hardwood floors are more resistant to changes in humidity than are solid hardwood floors. So if you are choosing new flooring for your home, engineered hardwood will allow you to be less careful about fluctuating humidity levels.

Installing a hygrometer in your home will allow you to monitor the level of humidity in the air. You can keep your humidity levels fairly constant (approximately between 35% and 55%) by running a dehumidifier in the summer if the humidity gets too high, and a humidifier in the winter if the humidity level drops too low.

These precautions will help you to keep your floors looking their best for many winters to come.