What Can Happen to Your Floors in Winter (and How to Prevent It)

With another Chicago winter upon us, it’s hard to imagine anything worse than the bitter cold and howling winter winds. We can think of one thing, though. Damaged hardwood floors. Winter can damage your floors in several ways. Here’s what to look out for and how to prevent it.


One of the most common complaints of hardwood floor owners in winter is that they’re finding gaps between their floor planks. This happens because of changes in temperature and moisture. Wood comes from a plant, after all, and is naturally porous.

This means it expands and contracts with changing temperatures and increased moisture. In winter, floors tend to contract, meaning that the planks shrink ever so slightly, causing gaps between them.

There are a couple of ways to prevent this problem. One way is to carefully monitor your home’s temperature and humidity. You can do this by improving ventilation in your home, using fans and opening windows.

You can also use a humidifier in winter or dehumidifier in the summer in order to control the moisture. Obviously, this can be a huge hassle, though.

Another (and more recommended) way to prevent your floor from gapping in winter is by installing engineered hardwood floors. These floors are designed to resist moisture, unlike solid hardwood flooring which is more porous and thus more susceptible to gapping.

Salt Damage

Winters in Chicago always involve copious amounts of rock salt. What does this mean for your hardwood floors? In short, copious amounts of damage. Rock salt can eat at your floor’s finish and even permanently damage it.

So how can you combat rock salt damage in a city that coats the streets with it before every snowfall? Well first of all, you should always take off your shoes before walking on your hardwood floor. Your shoes will inevitably pick up a lot of salt this winter, so that’s one easy way to keep it from touching your floors.

Keeping a thick mat where you and guests can wipe off shoes before entering the home can also be helpful with this. You should also make sure to vacuum and and wash your floors regularly, just in case any salt does sneak in.

With these tips, your hardwood floors will surely survive this winter! Just always be careful and maintain your floor well.

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