Does Salt Water Ruin Hardwood Floors?

There are countless benefits to having your home near the ocean. However, the harsh coastal conditions, salty sea air, and the presence of salt water and sea sand can have detrimental effects on almost every component of your seaside residence. Hardwood floors are no exception, but preventative measures must be taken to ensure their longevity.

Saltwater can ruin hardwood floors if proper measures are not taken to protect the floors. Saltwater consists of crystals with an inherently jagged shape. It will cause damage to the floor finish when dragged across its surface. Moist sea air and moist conditions will also cause damage.

Several aspects of coastal living have the potential to harm your hardwood floors. However, with proper maintenance and a concerted effort to ensure your floors are well protected, you should be able to enjoy hardwood floors on the coast for several years without any issues.

Does Salt Water Ruin Hardwood Floors?

Saltwater has the potential to ruin hardwood floors just as with any other component of your coastal home. Unfortunately, coastal living is generally synonymous with various potentially harmful factors that can be detrimental to the materials making up your home. Hardwood floors, particularly, do not enjoy the salty sea air synonymous with the coast.

Coastal conditions are inherently harsh. As a result, any materials used in constructing a house on the coast will be subject to adverse weather and generally harsh conditions. Salty sea air and salt water are particularly problematic. They can cause severe damage to various elements of your home, including the hardwood flooring.

Moisture is a particularly concerning element for any timber element. This is made worse when the moisture is combined with salt. Moisture will inevitably cause the warping of any timber elements with time. Moisture will also cause mold growth on your floor surfaces if it is not properly addressed before becoming a further problem.

Saltwater can also create stains on timber as it dries. These can be effectively cleaned, provided you address the problem immediately instead of leaving it on the floor. If left for an extended period, the salt can cause unsightly stains and damage your hardwood flooring.

Salt crystals, naturally found in salt water, are inherently rough and can cause major damage to the surface of your hardwood flooring. Calcium Chloride crystals are, on a microscopic level, small rough particles with a jagged shape.

Whether your hardwood floor is finished or unfinished, dragging these particles across its surface will cause abrasion that scratches the flooring and damages its surface. The particles are generally dragged across the floor when people walk across the floor where saltwater crystals are present.

When the rough salt particles are dragged across your hardwood floors, it causes significant scratches. It drastically decreases the lifespan of the floors on the whole.

How To Prevent Saltwater Damage To Your Floor

To prevent saltwater damage to your hardwood floor, there are several measures you can take. Most of these measures involve preventing people and pets from bringing saltwater into your home. Preventative measures are the most effective option in protecting your hardwood floors from saltwater damage.

By ensuring that nobody tracks sand and salt water into your home, you will ensure that your hardwood floors are well-protected from salt water damage throughout their lifetime. One of the most effective measures you couuld take is to ensure that everybody entering your home keeps their shoes at the front door.

Shoes such as sandals will inevitably be covered in sand and salt water after a day on the beach. Preventing these items from gaining entry to your house will go a long way in keeping the floors free of salt water. The same goes for toys, umbrellas, or other items used on the beach. Ensure that these items remain outdoors until they have been rinsed with fresh water and dried.

Another measure you could take is to ensure that anybody entering the home is properly dry of saltwater before entering your home. Ideally, you can install an outdoor shower and request that guests rinse off the saltwater from the beach and dry themselves thoroughly before being allowed entry into your home.  

Another important measure that you should take to protect your hardwood floors is to vacuum and sweep regularly. This will ensure that any foot traffic moving across your flooring is not grinding salt and sand into the floor’s surface.

Something else to consider to keep the salt water out of your house is using heavy mats. You should have one mat outside the door and one just inside the doorway. This will create an extra layer of protection to prevent salt water from entering your home, as any sand, salt, and salt water will be retained by the mat instead of being brought indoors.

How To Protect Your Hardwood Floor From Salt Water Damage

If your hardwood flooring has no protective coating, you can apply a sealant or varnish made with polyurethane. This will provide an effective layer of protection over your floor to ensure it does not succumb to water damage.

Another option is a protective wax for your floors. This will create an additional buffer against salt and saltwater.

Alternative Flooring Types For Coastal Areas

While hardwood floors are great in any home, especially in a coastal home, other alternatives are more resistant to moisture, salt, and generally harsh coastal weather conditions. Engineered hardwood brings many of the benefits of traditional hardwood.

However, it includes an additional layer of protection to ensure your floors remain better protected from salt water and generally moist conditions.

Vinyl flooring is another great alternative that has gained popularity over recent years. Forget the unsightly vinyl flooring of old – contemporary luxury vinyl flooring is aesthetically pleasing, pleasant to walk on, easy to install, and extremely low-maintenance.

shutterstock 1671219088


Just as with many other components of a coastal home, saltwater has the potential to cause major damage to your beautiful hardwood flooring. Other than considering another type of flooring to install that will be more resistant to coastal conditions, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure that your floor remains in good condition throughout its lifetime.