As the year gently winds down to a close, most of us are frantically gearing up for the end of year celebrations. It’s a fun time with family, friends and colleagues gathering together for myriad events, dinners, cocktails and parties. People visit each other, drop off gifts, kids are in and out of the house during vacation time off school – life is busy (hopefully in a good way) and your home is a buzzing hive of holiday activity!
And that, of course, is a very good thing; except not so much for the protection of your floors! The end of year holidays for many of us coincides with the wettest, muddiest, snowiest time of year, and this has the potential for ruining your gorgeous flooring. Even if the weather is dry and sunny in your neck of the woods, the extra footfall and holiday-happy exuberance of party guests can leave your floors scratched, stained or spoiled.
Now, please realize that, unless you’re a holiday Grinch and don’t ever let anyone into your home, you’re unlikely to get away with a totally undamaged floor. But, whether you have hardwood, laminate or carpeted floors, there are a few sensible preventative measures you can take to minimize the damage of bad weather and parties. Here is the Home Flooring Pros quick guide to things you can do to protect your flooring during the holiday season:
Top Tips to Protect All Flooring
Doormats – When it comes to potential damage to your flooring, the number one villain is dirt and debris that is tracked into your home on people’s shoes. This is true all year round, but particularly bothersome in snowy weather when salt grit is used on sidewalks and driveways. It’s essential to have doormats outside and inside the entrances to your home (don’t forget the backdoor, if you have one). Avoid rubber-backed doormats if you have wooden flooring: if water accidentally gets trapped underneath and goes unnoticed it will ruin your flooring beyond belief. Trust me, I know, as this happened to us a few years back and we had to rip out and replace several floorboards!
Rugs – Use area rugs and runners in the high traffic areas of your home. Hallways, dining rooms or wherever you set up the food and drinks at your party are the key places for rugs.
Remove shoes – For family members removing shoes upon entering the house should be a no brainer: you get to keep your floor clean and slipping into your favorite slippers gets you straight into “cozy home mode” when you get in from a hectic day out. As this is your home and your rules should apply, you should feel free to ask guests to also remove their shoes (but see the next couple of notes below if you do). Obviously if you’re having a big party, this may not be practical or desirable. In this case a well positioned rug – with a thick pile and in a dark color – set next to the entrance doormat is advisable to help absorb some of the outside dirt from shoes; and, budget permitting, you could consider getting a large area rug for the main party room.
Boot tray – Set up a plastic or rubber boot tray either outside or inside the main entrance for people’s wet shoes. If you have hardwood floors, consider placing a small towel underneath to avoid watermarks from drips.
Slippers – Make sure your family keep their slippers by the main entrance. For house guests, let them know in advance that you would like them to wear slippers, so they can bring their own. It’s also a decent gesture to keep a supply of washable spa slippers or slipper socks for anyone who doesn’t have slippers; and if you don’t like to ask people directly, you could hang a polite sign asking guests to remove their shoes.
Train your pets – We have an old and weary house cat who never ventures outside, so I don’t have firsthand experience of this one, but according to the team at Living With My Home it is possible to “train your pets to patiently wait by the door while you dry their paws with a towel, and then reward them with a treat.” I reckon you could train dogs that way, but I don’t know any cats who would be that patient! Let me know if you have one!
Christmas Tree Tray – If you plan on having a real, live Christmas tree in your home, ensure that you have a sufficiently large/ deep water catching tray under it to accommodate any spills.
Extra surfaces – Specifically for parties, ensure that there are lots of extra surfaces (side tables, buffets etc) for guests to place glasses and plates; spills and accidents are more likely to happen if people have nowhere to perch their drinks.
Be a domestic god/ goddess – Again, another no-brainer: vacuum or sweep your home regularly (perhaps even a little more often at this time of year than usual) and especially after events. Despite all the rugs and doormats, dirt is still going to get into your home – especially if you have kids or pets – so regular cleaning will help avoid dirt scratching wood floors or getting embedded into carpets.
How to Protect Hardwood Flooring
Mop up spills – OK, we all know that standing water is a major offender for wood flooring; but remember, you most likely have a sufficiently good varnish or sealant on your floor (wax, oil or polyurethane) so that you don’t have to go into full-blown panic mode when your kids’ friend upends a tumbler of juice: simply make sure that mops, rags and paper towels are in handy so that you can efficiently deal with any spills.
Sealant – With regards to previous comment: this summer would have been a great time to refinish your wood floors! This chore is something you need to consider doing every five years or so to keep your hardwood floors at their best.
Stick-on felt pads – A far more deadly predator of wood flooring is the scraping of unpadded bottoms of chair and table legs (especially dining chairs). The best way to protect hardwood floors from furniture is to use soft furniture pads of which there are several types on the market, but I would always go for the stick-on felt pad, which are just really easy to apply and very readily available in most general stores. However, a couple of things to bear in mind courtesy of the team at Denver Hardwood Flooring:
“Keep in mind that if the bottom of the leg is not sitting level on the floor, you may need to sand it down flat so that the full surface of the leg is on the floor. If not, it may scratch the floor finish or even gouge the wood itself. Another thing is to periodically turn the chair over and clean the dust and debris that may accumulate in the pad. If not, this may damage the floor as well.”
See our solid hardwood care and maintenance guide for more hardwood floor protection tips.
How to minimize damage to carpeted flooring
Steam Clean and Anti-stain NOW! – With the onslaught of guests you might be tempted to set up a good impression by getting your carpets steam cleaned before the holidays. This is fine provided you follow up the clean immediately with an anti-stain protective treatment! Most professional carpet cleaning companies offer an anti-stain treatment as an extra. Remember to clean carpets at least a week before guests arrive as, depending on the type of fibers and general humidity levels, carpets can take a few days to dry out completely.
Steam Clean and Anti-stain After! – Hopefully, you’ve been able to react efficiently to any spills or mess and therefore the anti-stain treatment has sufficiently protected your carpet. If not, I’m afraid you’ll have to budget in another clean and treatment after the holiday season is well and truly over!
Visit CarpetPriceGuides.com for up to date carpet cleaning costs in your area.
Finally, remember even the best laid-plans go oft astray, so check out our helpful article on how to deal with the most common spills and stains to keep your holiday celebration stress to a minimum.
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years’ experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”