Oh the weather outside is frightful… or at least it can be.
Last winter I was looking outside at nearly 30 inches of snow with another 8-10 on the way and it made me shiver at the thought of what snow melt chemicals can do to a floor. Salt and calcium chloride do wonders melting ice and improving safety. But they can put an early end to a good floor. Calcium chloride is both alkaline and hydroscopic (it actually pulls moisture from the air). It can weaken carpet backings and discolor vinyl flooring. Couple that with often low humidity (my office reading at one point last winter was 24% instead of the recomended 30-50%) and winter weather can put a damper on an otherwise beautiful floor.
Even hardwood flooring can be affected in that these chemicals can damage, even strip, the protective urethane coating, leaving the wood exposed to damage and discoloration.
So, what can you do?
Specify flooring that can handle the abuse in two ways – construction and camouflage. Hard surface flooring at entry ways that has varied patterns will resist damage and conceal spots until they can be cleaned.
Walk off mats are a must, as well as keeping a Swiffer mop handy to clean residue immediately. Not only will the damp Swiffer mop remove salt or calcium chloride, it will trap particulates as well that can act abrasively on the wear layer of your floor, or work their way into the fiber of nearby carpets.
Vacuum carpet quickly and consider a good cleaning when the season is over.
You can also consider a special heating element for your sidewalk or the area immediately in front of your door. You’ll not need salt in that case and it could save a costly lawsuit and hours of labor picking up and spreading snow melt chemicals. Of course, you can also heat your driveway, but that can get pricey. We offer Warmly Yours and NuHeat systems designed specifically for this purpose.
The bottom line is – stay on top of the mess and be proactive. The longer harsh chemicals are allowed to stay in contact with flooring, the more likely it is that damage will occur.