Hardwood floors are just one of those things that never goes out of style. Even when people started covering them up tile and carpeting in the 1970s they still remained waiting for their time to shine once again. Though as tough as a hardwood floor truly is, it’s not impervious to scruffs, scrapes, and damage. Especially in the wintertime.
If your building has new or older established hardwood floors then winterizing them to keep them safe is a sound investment for today as well as in the long term.
When Should I Winterize My Hardwood Floors?
The fall tends to be the ideal time to prep and preserve your hardwood floors before the season changes. You want to plan for a time that is well before the first snow typically falls to make sure that the surface of the wood flooring is as clean and contaminant-free as possible.
How Are Hardwood Floors Damaged In Winter?
Winter poses a variety of threats to hardwood flooring. First off, you have to consider the snow and melting water that can soak into the surface layers of the hardwood floor. It can be especially troublesome if your building has older floors that might not be as tightly spaced as more modern hardwood flooring, which often interlocks the floorboards together. When water gets between the gaps of an older hardwood floor it can cause the underlayment layers to swell, which can deform the floor even if the surface looks overwise pristine.
At the same time, you also have to factor in the fact that most property managers and groundskeepers use some type of salt or an ice-melting chemical to combat snow, ice, and sleet. While they might help prevent slips and falls on sidewalks and streets, they can still be very harmful and damaging to hardwood floors.
They can leave a very unappealing white film on the wood, which can corrosively affect it and stain it over time with discolored splotches. Coarse sidewalk salts like halite, with crystalline points that get trapped in the treads under a person’s boots, can also cause scratches that will not fade easily with time.
Add to all this the fact that dirt and debris tracked in on the bottoms of boots can also be very tough on hardwood floors. Without frequent cleaning, an improperly winterized hardwood floor can suffer a lot of scuffs and scrapes that can be hard to repair or restore cost-effectively.
How To Get Your Hardwood Floors Ready For Winter?
Getting your hardwood floors ready to handle the winter takes multiple stages. By taking a multi-stage strategy to protect and maintain your hardwood floors during the winter, you both minimize the amount of effort it takes to clean the floors, while also helping to preserve their appearance for many years to come.
Step One: Thoroughly clean your floors.
This includes dusting mopping, cleaning, and perhaps even auto-scrubbing every square inch of your hardwood floors. While this is certainly something you need to do to get them ready for winterizing, it’s also something that should be done on a regular basis to help maintain hardwood floors that look consistently professional year after year.
Step Two: Apply A Protective Or Finish Layer
Depending on the state of your hardwood floors, you can apply a new finish layer. This might come in the form of a Water-Based Polyurethane, Oil-Based Polyurethane, Moisture-Cure Urethane, Professional-Grade Floor Wax, Shellac, or a Penetrating Oil Sealer. This will update the finish as well as provide a more durable protective layer to the hardwood floors.
Step Three: Actively Clean Your Floors Throughout The Winter
Salt, dust, dirt, ice melt chemicals, and lingering water can all cause damage to your floors if they are not removed in a timely manner. Make sure to avoid all-purpose cleaners and hard surface cleaners that are too harsh for wood flooring, as they might dull the finish and leave unsightly residue on the surface of the hardwood floors. When using a cleaner concentrate, be sure to use the recommended dilution ratio.
Step Four: Keep Your Cleaning Tools Properly Maintained
It’s all too easy to let your dusters, mops, and other floor cleaning tools get out of good repair. Even something as simple as a salt crystal trapped in the padding of a floor duster can cause an accidental, and embarrassing scrape in your hardwood floors. So, take the time to use fresh dusting pads, replace mop heads that get dirty or worn out, and take care of your building’s auto-scrubber.
Step Five: Routinely Clean Your Hardwood Floors Throughout The Winter
Set up a routine schedule to keep your building’s hardwood floors clean throughout the winter and even into the wet and muddy days of spring. This might call for assigning a specific person, like a day matron, to clean the floors every Tuesday and Thursday, or it might be setting up a routine cleaning contract with a professional company like Building Services.
Step Six: Use And Maintain Long Floor Mats
For some buildings, floormats seem like a decorative thing to dress up the entryway to help avoid slips and falls. Though in truth, a high-quality floor mat is a great way to trap dirt, salt, and ice melting chemicals before they even get to your building’s hardwood floors. Not only can this save your floors, but it can also reduce your overall cleaning time.
Though you do need to make sure you are properly maintaining the floormats. If they start to accumulate too much dirt, grime, salt, and ice-melting chemicals, even the longest floormat can still turn into a massive sponge that sticks the debris to the bottom of boots and tracks it even further into the building. If you do see a mat that is overly dirty or soaking wet after a major snowstorm it needs to be thoroughly cleaned or replaced outright.
Taking a conscious approach to protecting and maintaining your hardwood floors during the winter will go a long way toward preserving them in the long term. If your hardwood floors are scuffed, stained by salt and melted ice or just in need of a good deep cleaning, you can always turn to Building Services’ team of professionals. With our professional-grade equipment and decades of experience, we can restore the like-new appearance of just about any hardwood floor.