It's every homeowner's worst nightmare: a flooded house. If you're lucky, your furniture and belongings will be salvageable. But what about your hardwood floors? Will they survive the flood? Here are some tips on how to save your hardwood floors after a flood.
What Happens When Your Wood Flooring Absorbs Water?
Wood is incompatible with water, and flooring is the first element of a house to be damaged by floods. Floodwater may damage hardwood flooring, particularly if it remains unattended for an extended period of time. The following are some of the most prevalent impacts of flood water on hardwood floors:
- Warping: When planks absorb water, they bend, causing the flooring to become uneven. Water damage may also cause the hardwood to buckle, causing ripples along the edges of each board.
- Mold: Mold may begin to form beneath and inside wood planks, with the possibility of spreading to other areas of the home.
- Breaks: Flood water may erode the glue used to adhere your hardwood floor to the subfloor, causing pieces to lift and crack.
How Long Does Water Take to Cause Damage?
The first sign of water damage is usually cupping, which is when the edges of the boards start to curl up. If the boards are not dried out within 24-48 hours, they will start to warp and potentially crack. In severe cases, the floor may need to be completely replaced. That’s why it’s important to act quickly if your wood floors are exposed to water. The sooner you can dry them out, the less likely it is that they will suffer permanent damage.
How to Fix Water-Damaged Hardwood Floors
You’ll need: A shop vacuum, a stiff brush, a bucket, gloves, an absorbent mop, a drum sander, wood finish, a mild detergent and a disinfectant
Extract the Water Quickly
First, remove all furniture from the affected areas. Next, use the shop vac to remove as much excess water as possible. Once the bulk of the water has been removed, sponge the remaining moisture with clean mops.
Scrub the Floor With the Detergent
Mold develops in damp, humid environments, and it may emerge everywhere after a flood, that’s why cleaning hardwood floors is a crucial step.
In a bucket, combine a mild detergent and a disinfectant with a bit of water. Scrub the whole floor and any connected woodwork using a stiff brush, while regularly rinsing the brush in the bucket. Scrub extensively to remove any dirt or organic material that might foster mold growth.
Dry the Floor
Use fans and open the windows to let the floor dry off gradually and naturally by circulating air around the room. Place a box fan in a big window or door opening, and then open windows and/or doors on the other side of the room to let fresh air in. This allows for cross-ventilation, which helps to get the moisture out.
Sand Down the Damaged Flooring
You'll need to use a drum sander to remove the top layer of the wood flooring. Be sure to sand evenly and in the same direction as the grain to avoid damaging the floor. Once you've sanded away the damaged top layer, you'll need to apply a new finish to protect the wood.
To Keep in Mind: Excess moisture can wreak havoc on wood flooring, causing it to warp, swell, and discolor. Although sanding and refinishing can sometimes salvage water-damaged wood floors, in many cases, it is necessary to replace the boards entirely. When deciding whether to sand or replace water-damaged wood flooring, a number of factors must be considered, including the extent of the damage and the type of wood. If the boards are only slightly warped or swollen, sanding may be sufficient to restore their smoothness. However, if the damage is more extensive, replacing the damaged floors will likely be necessary. In addition, certain types of wood are more susceptible to water damage than others. For example, oak, maple, IPE and teak floors can often be salvaged with sanding, while pine and spruce floors are more likely to require replacement.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand the options that are available when salvaging your water-damaged hardwood floors and to minimize the damage done by the flood. It is important to take immediate action and to start drying out your floors as soon as possible. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. We would be happy to assist you in any way that we can.