Flooring Protection Tips for Winter Parties

Updated: December 13th, 2023

We are in the thick of the winter holiday season, which typically means frequent get-togethers with friends and family—and perhaps you’ll be the gracious host for one of these shindigs. But for all the joy that these parties bring, they can be quite tough on your floors. The combination of increased foot traffic, the inevitable food and drink spills, and all sorts of outdoor messes being tracked inside can wreak havoc on your floors in just a single night. Here are some flooring protection tips to consider before your holiday parties and throughout the winter.

Flooring Protection Starts Outside

A beautiful country cottage with a snow-covered porch
A fresh coat of snow may be a treat for the eyes, but it can be a disaster for your floors.

A major source of potential flooring damage is not simply your guests’ shoes as much as what might be stuck to the soles of those shoes when they step into your home. From muddy slush to abrasive rock salt, your guests’ walk from their car to your front door can be fraught with any number of potentially catastrophic contaminants that can stain carpet or scratch hardwood, laminate, and vinyl floors. By making sure you keep as much of their path possible as clean as possible, you’ll greatly cut down on the level of debris that gets tracked into your home.

First, ensure that there is a clear, clean walkway from wherever guests will be parking to your front door. Shovel it, scrape it—whatever you can do to keep it clean will help immensely. But even a perfectly dry path can be a problem. If it hasn’t snowed recently and there isn’t any in the forecast, consider sweeping up any rock salt that may be hanging around since you last spread it. Not only can those salt crystals quickly scratch up your floors, but the chemicals used in some snow-melt products can strip the finish from hardwood flooring.

On your front stoop, set out a robust door mat, the type with high bristles that can really get into all the nooks in the sole of a winter boot. You might even consider laying out an indoor/outdoor runner along your front walkway to give guests some extra foot-wiping area as they arrive.

Place Rugs and Runners Everywhere

A rugged floor mat placed at the front door with a pair of leather boots resting atop.
Heavy door mats are one of your best floor protection options. Even better? Having your guests remove their shoes.

That flooring protection should extend indoors, of course.  If the area inside your front door allows it, consider a two-stage floor protection system. First, place a robust rubber or bristled floor mat in the area where your guests will initially step. These are great for removing and collecting dirt and packed snow from shoes but often don’t do much for any lingering wetness on the sole.

The second layer of flooring protection should be a highly absorbent mat. These are often made of a microfiber or terrycloth material and are designed to soak up water from pets’ paws and people’s shoes. A few good stomps on the first mat and a quick shuffle on the second mat should greatly reduce the gunk and slush stuck to most shoes, greatly reducing the likelihood that any of it ends up on your floors.

Turn the Heat Up!

This one might not make sense at first, but hear us out. For most of the country, holiday celebrations involve coming in out of the cold, wet weather and into the formal areas of a home. One of the best ways to keep your floors from getting dirty or scratched up by dirty shoes is to completely eliminate shoes from the equation. Asking your guests to remove their shoes at the door is a simple way to keep dirty soles off your floors, and will greatly reduce the odds of mud getting tracked onto carpet or stray bits of sidewalk salt scratching up your hardwood floors. The problem with going shoeless in the winter is that it can be quite uncomfortable if you don’t have carpeted floors. No one likes walking on a cold tile floor while they’re trying to party!

By making sure your home is a comfortable temperature, your guests will be more likely to happily oblige your request to go shoeless. And depending on your crowd, you might even consider making a trip to your local discount dollar store to pick up a selection of fun holiday socks to give out to those who get cold toes. The rugs and runners mentioned earlier will also help keep feet nice and toasty on tile or vinyl floors.

Protect Floors from Chair Legs and Other Furniture

Closeup of a hardwood floor with deep scratches caused by the chair legs seen in the photo.
Your own dining room furniture can end up being a major source of floor damage. Ensure there is adequate flooring protection on chair legs and other furniture.

You should also consider more than just your guests’ footwear when prepping for a party. An important part of your plan should be to protect your floors from chair legs and other pieces of furniture that will get shuffled around as guests eat and mingle. For many homeowners, hosting a holiday party means breaking out the fine China and fully utilizing the formal dining room—a room that may seldom be used otherwise. Before the crowds arrive, take a closer look at the seating in the rooms where guests will be dining and hanging out.

It’s not uncommon for formal dining sets to be a bit on the old side, perhaps even family heirlooms. As a result, any chair leg floor protectors that may have been installed on them are often worn away to the point that they provide minimal protection. This is especially important if your dining room has hard surface floors. Even scratch-resistant hardwood is not impervious to damage from a sharp wood or metal chair leg. Check the feet of all of your dining chairs to make sure they’re adequately protected to minimize the potential for scratching or scuffing your floors. Spending a few dollars on flooring protection for your chairs, like plastic sliders or felt pads, can save you the headache and expense of repairing badly scratched hardwood.

Simple Floor Protection Tactics can Prevent Significant Headaches

Taking the proper precautions before a big gathering—and even in everyday living—can go a long way toward protecting your floors and keeping them looking great for the long haul. Of course, despite your best efforts, your floors will probably encounter their fair share of muddy boots and spilled drinks. If you can’t prevent mishaps, the next best thing is to make sure you deal with them properly. Check out our Flooring Care page to learn about the best ways to clean each type of floor. And if your existing floors are showing their age and you’re thinking about replacing them, contact us to set up a FREE In-Home flooring shopping experience to learn about the variety of flooring products offered by Empire Today®.

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