How Can You Protect Your Hardwood Flooring This Winter?

In many of the homes we work in here in Westchester and Fairfield Counties, hardwood flooring is one of the great focal points. It connects us to a rich history of local craftsmanship, and provides an unparalleled level of warmth and character.

Even if the wood was laid recently, perhaps as part of an addition or flooring replacement, it’s a long-lasting, beautiful investment that deserves to be cared for and properly protected.

As lovely and durable as it is, wood is still susceptible to damage, and especially so if your house is a busy one. Pets also are another factor (claws and hardwood just don’t get along well). All of these hazards are compounded during the winter season as sand, salt, and elevated levels of moisture are added into the equation.

Never fear. There are simple steps you can take to help protect your beloved flooring, preserving its beauty, value, and condition.

Are You Cleaning Your Hardwood the Right Way?

While tile can be easily washed with your favorite high-test cleaner, hardwood needs a lighter, gentler touch. Harsh products can damage the finish, and applying a wet mop can leave puddles and drips that compromise your wood’s integrity and health.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Vacuum and sweep to pick up any loose debris that might be ground underfoot into the surface (this is especially important around doorways where sand and dirt can collect).
  • Never use harsh cleaners.
  • Keep the cleaning process as dry as possible, ideally mopping with a microfiber mop designed specifically for hardwood (you can find these at your local home improvement store).
  • Use cleaner formulated for hardwood, spraying it on and wiping with your mop (again, no wet buckets need to be involved).

How Else Can You Protect Your Hardwood Floors This Winter?

Beyond cleaning properly, these tried and true methods will also contribute to your floor’s long and happy life:

  • Protective Rugs By the Door – Where do your family’s muddy boots and wet jackets tend to land? The ideal scenario is to have a mudroom to collect winter gear (and dirt!), but if that’s not possible just be sure that heavy floor mats are by the door to catch the mess. It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it will protect that beautiful hardwood.
  • Take Your Shoes Off – You may already have a shoes-off household, but, if not, winter is certainly the time to start.
  • Puddles Are the Enemy – Immediately wipe up any drips or standing water.
  • Avoid Excessively Dry Air – Running the heat can keep you nice and comfy, but it’s not the best for your floors. If your environment is extremely warm and dry (perhaps you run a supplemental heat source like a fireplace insert), you may want to invest in a humidifier to balance the environment.
  • Periodic Refinishing – If your finish is worn down, contact a professional to help you bring fresh life and protection to the surface.

These extra steps and products may be easy to overlook or consider unnecessary, but they truly will pay you back handsomely over time. Hardwood is a real investment, and with the right care and love it can be enjoyed by generations to come.