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We know the feeling. You’ve just installed brand-new wood floors in your home (or just bought a home with new floors installed). You’re looking forward to showing them off to family and friends over the holidays. But all it may take is a missed spill, a bit of Christmas tree sap, or even sand on the bottom of someone’s shoes for the dream to become a nightmare. Your lovely new hardwood floors–scratched, stained, or otherwise damaged by what was supposed to be a festive gathering.

But fear not! Most of these mishaps are preventable with a little advance planning and mindfulness. If you’re celebrating your first holiday season with new wood floors, here are some practical ways to keep them protected.


Have Floor Mats at All Entrances


One of the most common sources of wood floor scratches is dirt and debris carried in unaware on shoes. A bit of sand sticks in the sole of someone’s shoe and scratches the floor as they walk or turn their heel. To minimize this risk, have quality mats both inside and outside each entrance. Remind guests to wipe their feet well before entering. Better yet, if you’re comfortable doing so–ask your holiday guests to leave their shoes at the door. This simple precaution can drastically reduce the amount of dirt and grit that gets tracked onto your hardwood floors.


Use Area Rugs and Runners for High-Traffic Areas


The most likely places for scratches to occur on wood floors are high-traffic areas–routes people generally take to walk from room to room, gathering spaces, etc. Consider protecting these prone areas with strategic placement of area rugs and runners. You might also place an area rug under eating areas like the dining room table to catch any spills. Make sure to use non-slip pads under rugs to prevent slipping hazards.


Clean Up Spills Immediately


When people eat and drink, spills happen. Most spills of food and liquid won’t damage the floors as long as they’re cleaned up right away. But if they’re left unnoticed, they can cause staining and warping. (Even a spilled glass of water can do damage if not cleaned up.) When guests are around, keep an eye on the floors and clean spills when they happen. After a holiday party, go around and check the floors for any unseen spills and clean them up. The sooner you do, the better your floors will fare.


Protect Your Wood Floors from Your Christmas Tree


If you’re planning on having a real Christmas tree, be aware that not only can pine needles scratch the wood floor, but dripping tree sap can be a nightmare to clean. Make sure to place a waterproof mat underneath to protect your hardwood floors from water spills when watering the tree, and install a tree skirt to catch dropped needles or tree sap. Make sure the skirt extends beyond the widest part of the tree.


Use Felt Pads under Furniture


When rearranging furniture for holiday gatherings, be sure to use felt pads under the legs to prevent scratches and dings. This is particularly important for heavy items like couches, tables, and chairs which can cause significant damage to your hardwood floors if they’re improperly dragged.


Your wood floor is more than just a floor–it’s an investment in your home, a reflection of your taste, and a foundation for making memories. By following these tips, you’ll not only safeguard your hardwood flooring against potential holiday hazards but also ensure its timeless appeal lasts for many seasons to come. (You’ll also have much greater peace of mind.)

Remember, the goal is not just to protect but to enjoy. After all, what’s the point of having beautiful hardwood floors if you can’t show them off during the most wonderful time of the year? So, go ahead, deck the halls and let the festivities begin, confident that your treasured hardwood floors are well-protected. Happy Holidays!