Prepping your home for the icy temperatures

It’s cold, very cold.

Even though it comes every year without fail, the first real blast of winter is a harsh reality and it takes us all a few weeks to get used to the bitter air.

I find that in the first cold days my fingernails start to break and my face gets dry and red, it takes a concerted effort and some amped up moisture to combat the effects of our arctic Alberta wind.

Our homes are the same way, once winter starts you have to be aware of the effects that extreme cold has on our interior finishes. Humidity begins to drop which will cause the wood products in your home to shrink. As moisture is removed from the air, it is also removed from the cells of the wood which can affect your flooring, baseboards, cabinets and furniture.

Winter is a good time to give your home a moisture treatment which could mean oiling wood items and taking measures to bump up humidity in the home. Without adding a humidifier you can utilize a portable unit, turn on your shower or dry clothes indoors – all these things will raise the humidity level in your home.

Keeping humidity levels at between 30-40% will ensure that wood floors and baseboards will not shrink as drastically and will keep case goods like bookshelves and cabinets in smooth working order.

Wood, like our skin need extra moisture through these dry months to keep them from damage plus you get the added benefit of personally enjoying the humidity in your home.

Proper humidity helps you breathe easier and also keeps your skin, hair and muscles stay hydrated; the benefits reach far past just your flooring!

The relative humidity in a room will have a bearing on how warm or cold you will feel.

The higher humidity will help the room feel warmer and more comfortable which will help you resist the urge to run to the thermostat every time you feel chilled. Proper humidity will also help reduce static electricity in your home which can help protect your electronics and generally reduce the annoying shock value!

Remember scooting around on your socks on carpeted floors just so you could poke someone and shock them? Raising the humidity in your home puts moisture in the carpet fibers which takes all the fun out of that childhood game – you decide what kind of parent you want to be!

The benefits of humidity are also noticeable if you have musical instruments in your home. Most instruments are made of either wood or metal and are very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity and will often go out of tune in a very dry environment.

Pianos and guitars are specifically the most vulnerable but you may find that drum kits and wind instruments will react to a dry room.

Take the time this winter to beef up your personal and environmental humidity. Drink plenty of water and keep a good, organic moisturizer on hand. I personally recommend organic coconut oil as an all-purpose moisturizer that keeps your skin soft and free of irritants. Watch out for the family pet though, animals love the taste of it and may end up following you around trying to taste the back of your knees!

Kim Meckler is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre.