How can you protect your floors in the winter season?
The weather is already changing here in Oklahoma. The nights are becoming colder and some of us have already turned on the heater. When the heaters do go on, you will notice that the air dries out in your home. Many of you have felt the static shock from rugs and static cling in your clothing. Since hardwood floors are natural products, they carry moisture that will dry out as well.
You may notice the changes as spaces between the boards or creaking when you walk on them. The heat that dries out the air also dries the moisture in your hardwood floors. The boards can actually have some shrinkage that will display cracks. Another side effect of the winter season is tracking in moisture from the icy rain and snow. Tracking that in repeatedly on your hardwood can cause damage to the finish.
While this is only a temporary situation, here are three things you can do to protect your floors from the cold season:
Place rugs at all of your entrances will help keep the wood clean and dry. The debris from your shoes can cause scratches and track water. Even better, create a place to store boots and shoes up off the floor when you enter. This eliminates standing water from wet footwear. Do not forget to catch those pets as they run in to wipe their feet too.
Use a humidifier to help regulate the moisture in your house. This will minimize the effects of the cold. The average relative humidity (RH) for our area is 80% in the morning and 50% in the evening. The heat can reduce that moisture up to 20% so the humidifiers can help introduce moisture back into your home. The Master’s Craft Flooring has a more detailed guide on humidifiers on their site
Seal up cracks around windows and doors to reduce the drafts coming into your home. This not only protects your floors, but reduces the need to have that heater working non-stop.
It is important to remember that the shrinkage is not a flaw in the wood or installation problem. The wood will change back as moisture comes back with the spring and summer season. That is why we do not recommend that you fill your wood floor during the winter months. You will find that the fill will pop out in the summer as the wood expands.