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Four Tips for Minimizing Water Damage to Wood Floors

Thursday, November 19th, 2020
water damage to wood floors

Hardwood floors are at special risk in the event of water damage inside a house. While vinyl, linoleum, and tile are water-resistant to a variable extent, wood’s natural absorbency often makes these floors ground zero for damage due to water exposure.

While most hardwood floors have a sealant coating, sealant retards water absorption but will not indefinitely stop it. Where an incident is limited to shallow pooling on the floor of a single room, prompt do-it-yourself action may limit floor damage. However, greater water volume —or wider spread inside the house—should be promptly handled by water damage recovery professionals.  

Here are four DIY steps to take to minimize water damage to hardwood floors:

  • Remove water fast. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, this is the best method to quickly remove pooling water. Otherwise, use mops and towels to pick up water. If there’s an exterior door nearby, a floor squeegee or push broom may be utilized to quickly push water outside.
  • Wash the floor. Fill a bucket with soapy water and a common household disinfectant and scrub the floor with a stiff brush. Rinse the brush in the bucket frequently. What you’re doing is removing dust and dirt containing organic residue that feeds mold growth frequently triggered by water damage to wood floors.
  • Dry slowly. Air-dry the floor with fans and natural airflow from open windows or doors. If you have a dehumidifier or opt to rent one, keep it running continuously. However, don’t utilize heaters to accelerate drying, as this may cause wood to splinter. Continue the drying process for a minimum of 24 hours. Many experts recommend drying a wood floor for up to four days.
  • Reapply finishing coat and sealant after total drying is confirmed.

Caveats

  • Concave or convex warping (known as “cupping”) may affect individual hardwood boards. If this effect is mild, affected boards may be sanded to restore a flat floor surface. More severe cupping—or other damage such as splitting—requires replacement of individual boards.
  • If portions of the floor are discolored by water exposure, these areas will require staining to match the original floor.

Minimizing Water Damage to Wood Flooring

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
water damage

The beauty and resilience of wood flooring has one drawback: water damage. Hardwood floors and water simply don’t play well together. The natural composition of wood fibers makes the floor absorbent and susceptible to water damage. However, the unexpected presence of water on your floor is not necessarily always a worst-case scenario.  

If the volume of water involved is limited to minor pooling that doesn’t extend under baseboards, and you’re able to act fast, you may successfully avoid further complications common to wood flooring in more serious water damage incidents. If that doesn’t describe the situation you’re facing, however, contact qualified water damage professionals immediately to handle the job instead.

Here are some steps to take—quickly—to minimize water damage.

  • First, a no-brainer: Stop the source of water wherever it originated.
  • Now move everything out of the room. Start with anything that’s soaked and contacting the floor such as a sopping wet rug. Remove all furniture from the wet area to take the weight off the floor.
  • Mop up the major volume of water.
  • Use a wet/dry vacuum (available at home rental outlets) to remove additional water. Continue to vacuum the floor surface even after visible water is removed, applying suction to pull moisture out of wood pores.
  • Begin air drying. Use multiple fans to continuously circulate air. Tilt the fans to direct airflow to the floor surface.
  • Don’t run the furnace or use space heaters to accelerate drying. Excess heat will increase the likelihood that flooring planks will warp or cup following water damage.
  • Rent a dehumidifier. Place the unit in the center of the room and keep it running continuously for 24 hours, at least. Two or three days is preferable.
  • Keep foot traffic in the room to a minimum as drying proceeds.
  • Use a moisture meter—inexpensive at local home centers and easy to utilize—to check moisture content in the formerly wet area. At typical household temperatures, a reading of 6% to 9% is considered acceptably dry.
  • If discoloration occurs where the floor was wet, sanding and refinishing the entire floor after drying may be necessary to restore uniform appearance.