Winterize Your Hardwood Floors
Maintaining your hardwood floors does not need to be an expensive or time consuming task. With winter around the corner, more and more of us will be using and coming into contact with deicers. We are also more likely to be indoors longer. To help get your hardwood floors ready for the upcoming winter season, TLC Custom Design’s owner, Thang Lam, has outlined a few tips and tricks that can extend the life of your newly refinished or installed hardwood floors below. These tips and tricks can be used anytime of the year, so we’ve also included the NWFA’s (National Wood Flooring Association) recommended maintenance schedule at the bottom of this article.
Tips and Tricks:
Wood fibers swell as they absorb moisture and contract as they release it. In the drier winter months, when indoor heating is used almost daily, using a humidifier will help minimize gaps appearing between floor boards. If you are doing a new install of wide-plank flooring, make sure your contractor is using a two-step installation process detailed in one of our previous article’s here.
Do not use vinegar, laminate flooring cleaner, or tile cleaning products on hardwood floors. These can cause the finish to dull, make the floor slippery or alternatively sticky, and otherwise cause the floor to collect and attract more dust than normal.
Use entry mats outside your house that have bristles to trap and collect large debris like ice melt chunks, etc. and use throw rugs inside at doorways to collect any additional moisture and smaller debris like soil and dust. This prevents the dirt, debris, and dust from being tracked onto the floor and scratching it (especially road, sidewalk, and driveway ice melt, sand and salt). Make sure the inside rug is non-staining (you don’t want the color bleeding through to your hardwood floor if it gets wet), and does not have a latex backing. Latex traps the moisture under the rug right on top of your hardwood floor which can not only ruin the finish but cause the flooring underneath to warp.
Avoid wet-mopping and/or steam mopping hardwood floors. Water and steam damages the wood over time and in the short-term can dull the finish.
Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened cloth.
Put stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching as some types of furniture slide a little during everyday use (think getting up from a dining room chair). Replace these often as dirt and debris can become embedded on the pad and act like sand paper on the flooring surface.
Don’t walk on your wood floors with sports shoes like cleats and high heels that are missing the rubber bottom on the heel or have it worn down. Per the NWFA, a 125-pound woman walking in high heels with an exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This type of impact can dent any floor surface.
When moving heavy furniture, do not drag or slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture to move it and to prevent scratches. Putting inexpensive felt furniture pads which can be purchased at any home improvement store underneath the furniture legs is the best way to slowly move the furniture across a hardwood floor if you can’t safely pick it up. In a pinch, you can put soft cotton towels under your furniture to move it.
For wood flooring in the kitchen, buy two area rugs and place one at the kitchen sink to collect any dampness from dripping hands/dishes/spills. Promptly replace it with the backup rug if something does spill on it while you wash the rug so the damp rug is never sitting on the floor while it is drying.
Recommended Hardwood Flooring Maintenance Schedule*
*From National Wood Flooring Association and based on typical wear and tear scenarios
Daily: Sweep or dust mop
Weekly: Vacuum using the bare floor setting
Monthly: Clean with recommended wood flooring cleaner
Every 3-5 Years: Maintenance Coat
Every Few Decades: Sand and Refinish