Snow, ice, mud and spring showers can wreak havoc on good housekeeping anywhere. In the Chicago area, we have to contend with tough weather of all kinds and our flooring has to stand up to the challenge. It?s not just people tracking in wet snow boots, it?s little pet feet too. So, how do you protect your flooring investment? And, what flooring do we recommend?

The invention of the mudroom was a genius idea. If you don?t have this transitional room which is typically floored in durable stone or tile, you can recreate the concept at your door. On the exterior, add a mat with a nubby texture to catch dirt, grime and water. On the interior, add a small throw rug at the door to give visitors a second pass at cleanliness. Place a bench near the door to offer a place to put on galoshes and boots and during the worst of the weather, lay tea towels by the door where damp boots can dry.

There?s a reason most entryways feature hardwood or tile; these provide a low-care surface that?s simple to sweep or damp mop quickly. If you have carpet in your entry area, consider a 5 x 7 rug to both define the space and offer protection. Make sure you use a pad beneath to protect the carpet from color transfer due to spills or water. Alternatively, Scotchguard this area to make keeping it clean easier.

Chicago area homes usually feature a mix of flooring, with higher traffic areas like entries, kitchens and baths featuring hard surfaces. Carpeting is often a low-cost alternative to hardwood or laminate, and is generally used in bedrooms, living rooms and dens. If you?re redecorating, consider if your budget can support a stone tile or wood entry even if you use carpet elsewhere. The ease of care will reward you, year round.