Survival Guide on How to Care for Wood flooring in Winter
With winter season just around the corner or actually already knocking on our door, there is about time to start thinking more about your wooden flooring and change your maintenance routine from summer mode to winter mode. We can forgive this little quirk of wood flooring requiring seasonal care, because after all, enjoying the top-notch beauty and perfect quality is a bit of a matter of some elbow grease. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the survival guide to winter season for your wooden floor and how you can make sure to prevent common issues due to colder weather and increased moisture levels.
Common Wood Flooring Issues in Winter
As you may guess it, winter is not the season wood flooring will feel its best, just as winter is probably not your favourite season too. With days getting colder and all the rain and snow expected, some common wood flooring issues can be expected and they are a reason for your floorboards feeling blue, dull and sad. First of all, let us remind you that wood is a completely natural product and even when it is cut into boards and planks, it still remains a natural product with a noticeable respond to its surrounding environment and all the changes in it. The more dramatic these changes are, the more dramatic the reaction to them will be. While the natural reaction of wood to the changes in temperature, moisture and humidity are easy to handle and do not require some heavy-duty measurements, to some extent these can get out of control too and this is why prevention and protection are the best approach you can consider for your floor this season. In addition, changes in weather conditions can lead to some additional problems in the overall condition of your house like leaks, for example, and these can lead to wood floor issues too. Let’s have a look at the most common wood flooring issues that are reasonable and expected in wintertime:
Temperature difference problems – It does not take too much to guess the fact that wooden boards wouldn’t feel amazing in winter with all the expected temperature changes and high-temperature amplitudes. While the weather outside the house is pretty freezing and you try to make your home feel like an exotic island with everlasting summer to feel comfortable and cosy. However, no matter the fact that you may maintain a constant high temperature indoors, your wooden floor will still experience some flows of cold air through gaps inside the room, or through the subfloor. As you may guess it, these changes in temperature can lead to the 'movement' of the floorboards we all try to prevent. Once the boards start expanding and shrinking more dramatically you can expect issues like dislocated and loose boards, popping nail heads, the wood adhesive could start to lose its holding strength and more.
Moisture problems – Speaking of colder weather, rain and snow are common for Britain’s winter climate. The moisture from outside can easily be imported inside, especially if you wear shoes inside the house or there are some roofing and other types of leaks inside the house. Colder weather is often a reason for broken and leaking pipes that can hide under your floorboards or anywhere around the house and affect the floor too. Due to the excessive moisture, your wooden floor will respond by expanding and shrinking and, as mentioned above, you may soon or later stumble upon loose or even broken boards, cupping, ballooning, chipped or flaking finish, etc. Usually, the imported moisture from melted snow or rain affects the condition of your finish the most but it also can penetrate through the worn finish and occur the condition of the bare wood underneath too.
Scratches, dents, stains, high traffic – In the context of the season, more time spent inside the house is pretty much highly expected. With that being said, fresh and new scratches on your wooden floor can be expected too. Considering the fact that wintertime is the time you try to spend your days inside as much as possible and also the season of a lot of family gatherings, dinner parties with guests and so on, it is about time to start a preventive policy and try to avoid as much scratches, dents and stains, as possible. Below are few helpful solutions.
Lower energy efficiency – Keeping your feet toasty and your heating bill low is something many of us try to achieve. Commonly, wood flooring is a top choice for many households, when considering the aspect of higher energy efficiency. Wood is known to be pretty high on the heat effectiveness list but often can decrease its efficiency due to the affection of cold weather and excessive moisture in winter. It is the vicious circle of temperature changes and moisture making the floorboards expand and shrink that leaves your floor not that sturdy and also leaves gaps, where the warm air can escape from and the colder flows seem to always find their ways.
Dryness – Finally, as a result of temperature changes and moisture, wood can get dryer. The dryer the wooden boards are, the faster they will start experiencing wear and tear and they can start getting squeaky and noisy too.
How to Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Wooden Floor?
In order to help your wooden floor be better at keeping the heat inside the house, here are the two most popular and successfully working solutions:
Insulation – Even with sub-zero temperatures outside, wood flooring insulation can help a lot for keeping your home extra warm and cosy. While older and unstable wooden floors and those installed without an insulation, especially over a concrete subfloor, can be a major source of energy and heat loss by allowing cold draughts enter the room, insulation is a great solution to this problem. In case you are planning a wood floor installation, be sure to consider the installation of an underlay before the fitting of the boards. A wood flooring underlay looks a lot like a duvet and has the same function – keeping you warm and cosy. Your feet will be toasty warm and your heating bill lower than ever if you decide to invest in a quality underlayment insulation. Furthermore, if you decide to go that extra mile and invest into an underfloor heating system, underlayment is a necessity.
Gap filling – Winter time is probably not the best time for major wood flooring repairs, but a quick facelift is always welcomed. One of the best ways for making your floor better at heat efficiency and more durable and stable is by filling the gaps between the boards that usually allow colder draughts from inside to enter the house. Gap filling is a very easy and fast process that wouldn’t create any hassle and fuss and disruption to your day-to-day life.
Ways to Make Your Wooden Floor Feel Happier Throughout the Winter Season
Or to help your floor actually survive the winter season! Of course, a well-minded and consistent maintenance is always the key to your wooden floor looking and feeling better. Colder weather outside won’t pressure you to change your basics like consistent and appropriate cleaning routine, but winter requires adding a few extras to the care for your wooden boards.
Say ‘no’ to wearing shoes inside the house – Shoes are the main source of dust, dirt and moisture entering your home and affecting the appearance and condition of your wooden floor. Shoes and all the dust and dirt on the soles can leave scratches and permanent stains on the finish of the boards. This year you can feel extra cosy and comfortable by wearing slippers and this way to avoid common wood flooring issues too.
Place mats and rugs strategically – Well, we know, what is the point of having a beautiful wooden floor if you cannot showcase its beauty and cover it with rugs and mats?! But this is not quite the case. If few rugs and mats were thrown here and there are really not that of a serious problem, but they can help you a lot… and also make your home feel even cosier and warmer! Placing a mat in front of your front door is a necessity because it will work as a barrier for moisture and dirt being imported into the house. With all the high traffic expected this season, placing a rug or two in the areas, where heavy footfall and traffic are expected the most will save a few or more scratches and stains and a lot of nerves and headache pills! In addition, if there are gaps and problems with the energy efficiency of the wooden boards, a few rugs can help a lot for not allowing the warm indoors air escape the house.
Wipe liquid and food spills immediately – Winter season means more family and guest gatherings around a table covered in delicious dishes and eggnog. While food and beverages should remain on the table or inside your belly, a few drops will occasionally happen to find their place down. In case you stumble upon food or liquid spill, you need to wipe it off immediately, otherwise, the risk of a permanent stain is pretty serious. You need a cloth that is lightly dipped into warm water (with a few drops of wood floor cleaning product, if the stain is highly pigmented) to remove the spill quickly and easily. With that being said, daily vacuuming or cleaning with a broom with softer bristles is highly required too, otherwise, the dirt and dust particles accumulated can leave fine scratches or form dirt build-ups that are harder to remove and can provoke allergies and other conditions if inhaled.
Yes, you are right, maintaining your wooden floor in perfect condition even in the aggressive conditions of winter is not a hassle and stress at all! One more positive point for wood floors and if you haven’t considered owning one by now, we hope that this guide will tilt the scales and wood will gain even more advantage over any other option offered on the market. Do not get misled by the idea that winter is not the right season for wood floor installation too. In fact, winter is a great time to plan and schedule installation service, here is why:
Less humidity – With lower humidity levels in winter, your newly installed wooden floor will feel great and remain extra durable and sturdy. Less humidity and less moisture due to humidity results in less ‘movement’ of the floorboards. While expanding and shrinking of newly installed floorboards can be a pretty serious problem, you can successfully avoid the bad experience! Consider investing in a quality insulation ‘though, a good moisture barrier is recommended all year round!
Better acclimatisation – Due to the porous structure of natural wood, solid wood and engineered wood floors to some extent are pretty sensitive to their surrounding and prone to issues due to aggressive environment. A good acclimatisation of the floorboards before fitting them is a key to ensure a solid and stable construction. Acclimatisation does not have to be underestimated at all, so leaving the wooden and lumber materials out of their transportation packaging for a few days is essential before laying them. Winter season guarantees less humidity and less temperature amplitudes (in an unheated room), which means that the floorboards will need less time for acclimatising!
Here is a great gift idea for you… from you! This Christmas you can ask Santa for a fresh, new and gorgeous wooden floor your whole household will be favoured by! Below you can find a sample of a letter to Santa form you can download and send to the North Pole:
This year I have been very, very nice and as you will agree with me I definitely deserve to get a new wooden floor, not necessarily under the Christmas tree ‘though!
Merry Christmas, Santa!
I will be waiting for you on Christmas Eve with cookies & milk! And a hammer… for fitting the floorboards, of course!
Speaking of Santa… oh, the poor old Father Christmas can get a bit too dizzy and clumsy! After all, after a night in the sub-zero cold, millions of tasks you have to finish in one night and a bumpy and shaky ride on a sleigh drawn by a bunch of reindeers, you wouldn’t feel your best too! Although we all forgive Santa, here are a few ways to prevent the look of your wooden floor getting occurred by Santa’s gracelessness:
- Comin’ down the chimney – Ok, we are kind of not bothered anymore with the question how a fully grown man can enter the dwellings through a chimney. We are bothered by something else, however – if Santa comes through the chimney, you can expect him to leave charcoal particles and ember flying out of your fireplace. Oh well, let’s say that there is some kind of special Christmas magic that doesn’t allow your house to be burnt down, but what about all the dust and dirt? Placing a rug close to the fireplace (but not too close) will catch the majority of the dirt. It is also important to have your chimney expected every year to prevent soot build-ups. Finally, do not forget to extinguish the fire every time you do to bed or leave the house and also allow the ashes to cool down before you dispose of them.
- Cookies-and-milk break – Santa’s schedule is truly jam-packed and he is always in a rush, so if you find crumbles from chocolate chip cookies on your floor, or spilled milk, dot not get angry to Santa, but be sure to wipe off the spills as soon as possible to minimize the risk of stains and issues.
- Christmas tree affair – Spilling some milk is not the only evidence you can find for Santa’s visit. Before you start unwrapping your present on Christmas morning, look around for tree needles that Santa might leave the room while making his way to leaving the presents under the Christmas tree. To be honest, Santa’s clumsiness is not the one and only reason for tree needles wandering everywhere in the room, owners of cats and dogs will agree with this statement! A Christmas tree skirt is a must for preventing scratches and mess.