Winter is here. Sorry.
The cold weather brings with it a number of challenges for floors once the snow falls and sticks to your boots, melting inside. It often has salt mixed in, which leaves stains on your shoes, or worse: it can get stuck in the cleats of your boots, leaving dents in your wood floor.
Thankfully, a little bit of winter prep can be a big winter remedy.
Scrape It Off
All direct entryways to the outdoors should have knock-off matting on the exterior and absorbent matting on the interior.
Knock-off matting (also called scraper mats) is typically a stiff-bristled mat that, as the name implies, is designed to knock dirt off your shoes. While beneficial year-round, these mats are extra important in the winter as snow sticks to your boots. A small mat outside the door is all you need.
Recommended: Cocomats. A natural matting made from coconut husks, it’s an attractive, green option that is readily available in many sizes.
Soak It Up
Absorbent matting helps dry boots and keeps the melting slush from reaching your floor. Typically, it is made of absorbent material attached to a rubber, waterproof backing. At home, this is where you leave your boots.
In a store, the matting often has to be long enough to make sure footwear is dry by the time customers make their way to the wood floors.
It’s usually a good idea to have a second mat you can put in place while one is being cleaned. Stores will often use a service provider who picks up old mats and replaces them with new, clean ones.
Recommended: For homes, a looped cotton mat with rubber backing will do the trick. Stores may need to scale up the size of their mat according to traffic and type of weather.
Manage the Cold Air Flow
If your wood floor is installed up to any access to outside, it’s worth double-checking your weather-stripping. While not likely to cause damage, constant exposure to cold air can cause unwanted shrinkage. In stores with constant in-and-out, if there’s a single door it would be wise to hang a curtain or otherwise stop air from flowing every time the door opens.
Even with the mats in place, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for salt. Depending on where you live and how snow is handled, you may see salt rocks, or heavily salted water, on the floor – both of which will accelerate wear and tear. Sweep up the rocks and reconsider your absorbent matting if you see salt pools.