How Water Damages Surfaces and How to Restore Them

hot water damage

Indoor water damage affects the surface of common building materials in two ways. First, certain materials are subject to deterioration when contacted by water. A prime example is drywall that forms walls and ceilings. Another damaging factor is the absorption of water into the material itself. This is often an issue when water pools on floor surfaces like hardwood or engineered wood.  

Here’s how water damages the surface of these common materials:

Drywall

Drywall consists of white gypsum sandwiched between an external surface layer of thick paper. These materials are vulnerable to water and may be stained on the surface if wet or permanently damaged if severely saturated. Steps taken by water damage professionals to mitigate drywall damage include:

  • Circulating air.  High-volume air movers can accurately direct airflow across wet drywall surfaces to rapidly dry the walls and ceilings.  
  • Humidity reduction. High humidity common inside a water-damaged room triggers condensation that stains and deteriorates drywall. Industrial dehumidifiers are utilized to rapidly reduce indoor humidity following water damage.

Drywall that is wet and is dried in a timely manner can often be repainted to cover stains. Where drywall is completely saturated for a significant period of time, however, may require replacement.

Wood Floors

It’s a basic fact of nature that wood is absorbent. Water contacting a hardwood floor may discolor the surface. Swelling and warpage of the wood may also occur if the water is present for an extended time and absorbed. If water penetrates deeply, it will saturate the plywood subfloor beneath the wood flooring material, as well.  To prevent damage to wood floors, these techniques are helpful:

  • Rapid removal. Time is of the essence to save wooden floors affected by water. The quicker water is removed, the less damage may occur to floor surfaces as well as the deeper material structure. Removing pooling water and drying floors as soon as possible is critical to prevent surface staining, internal deterioration, and ancillary issues like mold contamination.
  • Deep extraction and drying. The technology used by professionals can extract moisture and dry floors effectively in many cases to minimize water damage. Powerful extractors pull moisture out of the wood and floor structure beneath.  Heat drying systems can direct deep heating directly into the floor material to accelerate drying.

If dried in time, hardwood floors that are not severely warped or swelling can often be restored by sanding and refinishing the material. 

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