Don’t let your house take a beating this winter

Courtesy of ARA Content

No matter what part of the country you live in, the fall and winter months can be downright abusive on your home. From frozen Minnesotans dropping heaps of water-logged clothing on the floor after digging out of 5 feet of snow, to tanned Floridians grinding gritty sand into their carpeting, every home takes a beating in the winter.

As harsh as we can be on our most expensive investment, a variety of easy and inexpensive precautions can greatly diminish the amount of winter wear and tear imposed on our homes.

A foot in the door

It all starts at the doorway. For northerners, winter means traipsing in and out of the house with mud, salt and snow on your shoes. And, being bundled up carrying groceries many times means you nudge the door open with those muddy boots, leaving scratched paint and stains on perhaps the most visible part of your home. A simple solution to this is investing in a durable kickplate.

Kickplates are available in a variety of sizes, finishes and quality. Choose something that complements the door’s hardware (doorknob and knocker) and will be an appropriate size. Standard 6 1/2-foot doors should use the corresponding 34-inch wide by 6-inch tall kickplate. Larger doors allow for taller and wider plates.

Baseboards that say ‘bring it on’

Baseboards are often overlooked until they are so dirty and worn that they stand out like a sore thumb. By design, baseboards are meant to preserve the lower portion of walls and withstand normal bumps and scuffs. However, choosing an appropriate paint for these baseboards can make all the difference when it comes to durability.

Paints designed especially for heavy traffic and easy cleaning are best for baseboards. Look for interior latex paints infused with stain-resistant materials. One paint manufacturer, Pratt & Lambert, actually offers a line of paint called Porcelain, which contains tiny porcelain particles that bond together in such a way that stains cannot penetrate the surface of the paint. And, because of the paint’s strength, if dirt or spills do splash the surface, you can scrub the paint without damaging the finish.

Clean carpets

Tile, laminate and wood flooring are incredibly easy to clean because they are not extremely porous. Carpet, on the other hand, is designed to be lush, meaning there are ample nooks, crannies and spaces for dirt and grime to hide.

Investing in a stain-resistant carpet cleaner that repels such substances from entering your carpet will maintain your carpet’s vitality and cleanliness. Keeping do-it-yourself spot carpet cleaners on hand when minor spills occur is essential when entertaining. Just a few sprays and a little elbow grease will diminish stains and not put a damper on the party.

Slip and slide

Even though your house may have tile, laminate or wood floors, tracking outdoor substances such as muddy water or slush on them can add wear and tear, especially during the holiday season. And constantly cleaning up after guests’ muddy footprints can be exhausting.

Simple carpet runners can help prevent these unsightly and potentially dangerous issues. Many retail stores sell solid-colored and seasonally-styled carpet runners that have a non-skid backing and are machine washable. Placing a few of these in heavily-trafficked areas will reduce damage to all types of flooring and will provide safe pathways for walking.

Kitchen consideration

You might not think of it at first, but kitchens take quite a beating during the winter months. As the central point of congregation for holiday parties, dinners and simple evenings at home, kitchens see quite a bit of traffic during the winter.

Because of the increased use, kitchen cabinets endure a lot more bumps during the winter, but cabinet finishes can be spared with a few easy solutions. First, if your cabinets are not painted, apply a varnish that will act as a barrier against scuffing. If they are painted, reapply the color in a paint that is meant to withstand heavy traffic. A quality Purdy brush is critical to a flawless finish.

Any local hardware store should stock corner protectors. The edges of your kitchen cabinetry or islands often take the brunt of the damage because you have to maneuver around them. Wood or plastic corner protectors will help diminish this damage and can, if you like, be removed at the end of the winter.

These simple tips will protect some of your home’s most frequently damaged areas, and help ensure a lasting durability.

From the November 25-December 1, 2009 issue

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