Wood flooring needs protection and a lot of maintenance at the best of times, but particularly so during the winter months. Wet, dirty shoes and environmental conditions are tough on real wood flooring, so you need to remain vigilant at all times.
But you don’t need to worry unduly — provided you take the necessary precautions. As long as you have the best vacuum cleaner for wood flooring, and you’re taking preventative maintenance seriously, there’s no reason why your flooring can’t survive the harshest of winters.
Prevent grit damage
The one thing thing you’re likely to see lots of this winter — apart from bad weather — is grit. Also known as rock salt, grit is used to lower the freezing point of water, so ice and snow can turn back to water in cold conditions. But the trouble with grit is that it’s abrasive. When grit is trodden into teak, maple, oak or other real woods, it can cause serious scratches, gouges and permanent splits. At the very least, grit can damage sealant, letting water into the wood underneath.
During the winter, insist that people remove their shoes before entering your home. As a precaution, place extra thick mats at every entrance, just in case. This is also why you should be vacuuming more frequently than usual. While you can sweep wood flooring, this might grind grit particles into the wood. For the best results, use the hard floor attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove potentially damaging grit.
Consider humidifying your home
The scourge of mould means that a lot of homeowners are using dehumidifiers — removing moisture from the air before it can settle on surfaces. But colder air holds much less moisture, which can leave it dry. And dry air is the enemy of wood, as it can cause it to shrink over time.
Check the humidity levels in your home, and if you have a lot of hardwood flooring, consider using a humidifier to pump a little moisture back into your home. Large swings in temperature can also cause shrinkage, so try to maintain a pleasant indoor temperature of between 70C and 76C.
Particularly in high-traffic areas, consider adding rugs, runners and mats that provide a cushioning barrier between winter shoes and your precious wood flooring. Although you may have a no-shoe rule in place, people might forget, or you might feel a little wary about asking tradespeople and relative strangers to remove their shoes. You can buy anti-slip stickers to ensure your rugs remain firmly in place.
Don’t use chemicals
Even with preventative measures in place, your wood flooring will still take a battering during the winter months. After all, a home is there to be lived in. Snow, ice, water, grit and winter shoes are already destined to test your floor’s longevity, so don’t add chemicals to the mix. Instead, use nothing more than distilled water for big clean-up operations, and damp cloths for spills and minor stains.
Alternatively, look for the best steam mop for wood floors online. The latest innovative products are highly efficient with water, leaving surfaces almost completely dry after every use.
It’s all common sense, really. Premium wood flooring is often made from relatively soft woods, so it needs to be protected proactively. Follow these steps throughout winter, and you should be able to keep damage and general wear and tear to a minimum.