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Does Cold Weather Affect Hardwood Floors? Care Guide Included

Hardwood floors are a lovely add-on to any home, and they are usually the floors that people think of when they picture their dream home. However, with the beauty of hardwood floors comes the high maintenance of keeping them that way. Many things can affect hardwood floors, but is cold weather one of them?

Cold weather can affect the hardwood floors in your home. During the winter, when the temperature drops, so does the humidity. This causes your hardwood floors to dry out and contract. Hardwood floors in this state are more fragile and require extra care to keep them from breaking. 

So, how do you protect your hardwood floors from possible damage during the cold winter months? And how does temperature affect the hardwood floors in your home? Let’s talk about it below!

Does Cold Weather Affect Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors are a luxury that most houses have today. These floors are easy to clean and look incredible in any home. They’re generally a part of peoples dream home as they bring a sense of comfort, warmth, and calmness when you see them. 

What many people don’t realize, though, is that hardwood floors require a good amount of care and maintenance to keep them looking nice. Many factors from inside and outside your house can damage hardwood flooring. Some of these factors are in your control, while others are not. 

One such aspect is the weather and humidity levels of the area you stay in. For most homeowners with hardwood floors, cold weather can bring a lot of concern with it, as cold weather can cause problems with hardwood flooring. If you are not ready for the possible problems that the cold weather can bring, it can be quite shocking and frustrating to watch your beloved floors get damaged. 

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The cold weather conditions in winter can damage wooden floors, but whether your floors get damaged or not will depend on what type of wood flooring you have in your home.

So, let’s go through the different types of wood flooring to see if your floors will be affected this winter… 

Solid Hardwood Flooring

If your floor is made from solid hardwood, this can cause some problems during winter. Solid hardwood flooring is made from natural wood, which means that it will change according to your home’s temperature and humidity levels. 

Solid hardwood floors have an ideal temperature range between 65 and 75˚F, with a humidity level between 35 and 55%. If your home’s temperature and humidity level don’t stay in these preferred ranges, the hardwood planks on your floors will start to react to the changes in their environment. 

The solid hardwood flooring can be damaged as it changes in the cold weather. Some of the possible damage that can be caused is irreversible, and you will need to replace the affected planks to get your floors looking pristine again, which can become a very expensive job. 

The safest thing to do is prevent the damage from occurring in the first place. We will go through how to protect your hardwood floors in the winter further in this article. 

Engineered Wood Flooring

Another form of wood flooring that is highly popular among homeowners as it’s cheaper to install than solid hardwood flooring, is engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring looks just as good as hardwood flooring and is often confused for hardwood flooring, so homeowners tend to go for this option for their homes. 

Engineered wood flooring is a man-made product manufactured by gluing and pressing different layers of wood plies together. Each layer in this flooring is called lamina. While this type of wood flooring is manufactured, it still has natural wood in it.

This means that this flooring can be affected by cold temperatures and low humidity in the same way solid hardwood flooring can be affected.  

However, with engineered wood flooring, the possible damage will be less extreme than in solid hardwood floors, as it does have a layer of veneer over it that offers some protection from the cold. You should still keep the temperature and humidity levels in the same ranges as the solid hardwood floors to avoid any possible damage. 

Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Hardwood flooring needs care and maintenance in order to stay in good condition

Luxury vinyl flooring is commonly used in houses today as a less expensive option for solid hardwood flooring and engineered wood floors. However, this flooring option can still fetch a hefty price at some stores. 

Some luxury vinyl flooring options are such high quality, some people cannot tell the difference between the vinyl flooring and real wood floors. For this higher quality vinyl flooring, you will pay a higher price. 

Luxury vinyl floors are artificial products that will not be affected by cold weather, as there is no natural wood in it to be affected.

So, if you recently moved into a home with wooden floors already installed, make sure they are not luxury vinyl floors before you begin to worry about what effects the upcoming winter will have on it. 

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a type of flooring that is often confused with actual wood flooring made from natural solid wood. This type of flooring can look fake, and it should not be difficult to tell that it’s not real wood unless you have professionally made and installed laminate flooring. 

Laminate flooring is made by placing a layer of a clear plastic protective coating over some plywood, a dense layer of fiberboard, or a plastic core. The plastic coating would generally be painted to look like wood if a plastic core was used.

As laminate flooring is completely man-made, these floors do not react to changes in temperature or humidity during the winter. You still need to look after laminate flooring well, as the surface coating can get scratched, which can make the flooring look faded and dull. 

How Does Temperature Affect Hardwood Floors?

Now that you are aware of what types of wood or wood-like floorings can be affected by changes in temperature, you might be wondering what these changes are and what to look for if your floors are going through them. 

This is important to know and understand, as it could help prevent your wood floors from experiencing a large amount of damage due to temperature changes. This section will cover how both cold and hot temperatures can affect your hardwood floors and the signs that indicate these changes are happening. 

This will help you understand what is going on with the hardwood floors in your home throughout all the seasons of the year and how to prepare for these changes. 

Cold Temperatures

When winter comes around, this means that the temperature will plummet, and the air will begin to dry out. When this happens, your hardwood floors will start drying out, and they are going to contract because they are made from natural wood. 

This can result in your hardwood floors looking and feeling drier than usual. When this happens with your hardwood floors, you need to be extremely careful with them. When the wood is in this dry condition, it’s more susceptible to cracking and breaking, especially if the floors are in a high-traffic area. 

When the hardwood contracts, you will notice some gaps starting to appear in your flooring. This is natural, but you need to take extra care of your floors when the wood is in this state. If you don’t care for your floors properly through the winter, they can begin to splinter. 

If this takes place, you will need to call a professional to help you repair your floor, so it’s best to avoid this as much as possible. (We’ll get to the best way to take care of your hardwood floor later in this article).

Hot Temperatures

When summer comes around, you will need to deal with an increase in temperature and humidity in your home, which can greatly affect your hardwood floors and cause some problems. Some people say that looking after hardwood floors in the summer is more difficult than in the winter as more problems can occur. 

During the summer, hardwood floors can swell and increase in size. This can produce a large amount of unwanted pressure between the boards of your floor. If this pressure becomes too strong, your floorboards can start warping, creating a bulge in your floor. 

If this bulge is not fixed by a professional, this can permanently damage the floorboards, and they will need to be replaced. An easy way to tell if your floorboards are starting to swell is if the gaps between the boards begin to shrink, and your floorboards look moist compared to how they look in winter. 

If you take excellent care of the hardwood floors in your home and maintain them properly throughout all the seasons, you are less likely to face any of the complications mentioned here. 

How To Protect Hardwood Floors In Winter

Removing your shoes when walking on hardwood floors protects them from moisture damage in cold weather

Ensuring that your hardwood floors survive the winter with little to no complications can be quite difficult. Thankfully, there are ways you can try and protect your hardwood floors from as much damage as possible through the cold months. 

Most of the following methods are easy to implement in your daily life, so they won’t inconvenience you in any way, but they will help protect your floors. Let’s go through these easy protection methods to ensure your hardwood floors are given all the help they can to survive the cold. 

#1: Remove Your Shoes 

If you stay in a place that has snow in the winter, one of the best ways to help protect your hardwood floors is by removing your shoes before entering your home. This will help prevent any snow, slush, or salt from entering your home and damaging your hardwood floors.

Ensure you place your shoes on a mat or towel and don’t leave them on your hardwood floors. If you don’t want to take off your shoes before entering your home, you can place some high-quality doormats by your door. You will need to put one outside your door and one inside, and rub your feet vigorously on them before you go inside. 

#2: Use A Humidifier 

If you are anxious about your hardwood floors gaping or notice this happening already, you can help prevent any damage caused by this by controlling the humidity in your home. You can do this by using humidifiers around your house. 

You can either do this by buying humidifiers (like this sleek looking one on Amazon) and placing them in your home’s rooms that have hardwood flooring, or you can have a humidifier system built into your home’s heating system. Either way, you need to monitor the humidity in your home and ensure it’s above 35% to keep your Hardwood floors happy. 

I like this humidity and temperature monitor from Amazon. Having a few of them around the house helps you keep an eye on both the temperature and humidity levels. And this will help keep an eye on when the temperature and humidity are outside of the ideal ranges for hardwood flooring. 

REMEMBER: Solid hardwood floors have an ideal temperature range between 65 and 75˚F, with a humidity level between 35 and 55%

#3: Control The Room Temperature

Another way you can help protect your hardwood floors during the winter is to keep the temperature in your home above 65°F. This is the optimal temperature for hardwood floors and will help prevent the floorboards from constricting and possibly breaking due to low temperatures. 

Having the temperature in your home slightly warmer in the winter can also help keep the humidity levels in your home high, which will further help your hardwood floors stay healthy and strong. 

#4: Keep The Hardwood Floors Clean

One important thing you should do to help protect your hardwood floors in cold weather conditions is to keep the hardwood clean. You need to clean off any of the salt you bring in from outside in the winter as these have a high pH that can damage your hardwood floors

You should mop and sweep your hardwood floors at least twice a week to keep dust and debris out of the gaps that form due to the wood constricting. If any dirt gets between the floorboards, this can cause major problems when the temperatures begins warming up. 

It can cause your floorboards to fall out of place. And when they are out of place, they are more susceptible to damage. 


Having hardwood floors in your home can make your home look stunning and like it’s out of a dream. However, what most people don’t realize, is that hardwood floors need a lot of care and maintenance to stay looking great and dreamy. 

You need to look after your hardwood floors in all seasons of the year as they’ll change the wood in different ways. The guidelines in this article should help you keep your hardwood floors looking gorgeous through the winter months and should help prevent any damage. Good Luck with your hardwood floors!