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Wood floors are more popular, but water damage is more common

We’re experiencing an increase in calls to deal with wood floors damaged by flooding. This is for two main reasons:

  • More people opting for wood floor for practicality and aesthetics
  • There are more sources of water in the home

If your home is affected by a flood, you may need to replace the wood floor. Before you do, though, it may be that you could repair it. In this article, you’ll learn how to repair water damaged wood floors.

Can your wood floor be repaired?

The first question to answer is if your wood floor can be repaired. This will depend on four factors:

  1. How fast you act
  2. The type of wood floor you have
  3. The amount of water/moisture present
  4. The amount of damage caused

1.    Act fast for the best results

The longer you leave a water damaged wood floor, the worse it will get. Mold only takes a couple of days to grow, and once this takes hold you may need to use professional mold removal services.

Hardwood floors need to be dried as quickly as possible to prevent mold growing and spreading. The temperature, humidity, and dust below a wood floor are ideal conditions for mold.

2.    What type of wood floor is it?

There are several types of hardwood flooring, including engineered wood floors, strip wood floors, and laminate wood floors. Laminate wood floors are usually replaced after a flood as they do not react well to excessive moisture.

3.    The amount of water and moisture present

The first thing to do is to remove any excess water. Small spills can be mopped up with paper towel or a cloth. This will stop the soaking-in process. In this case, you should be able to allow the floor to dry by itself, and there will be no damage caused.

(A tip here is to choose the best vinyl floor if you have a pet that has accidents.)

Heavier floods, such as those caused by dishwashers, radiators, broken fridges and freezers, etc., should be treated straight away and by professionals. We have the tools to remove excess water and accelerate the drying process without causing further damage (and we’ll dry the subfloor, too).

4.    The amount of damage caused

Finally, depending upon the amount of water and moisture, damage caused could include raised nails, separation of floor pieces, cupping, cracking, and buckling. This usually happens if the wood floor is not dried out properly, or if it has been left too long before starting the drying process.

Often the subfloor will also be retaining water, and so this will also need to be dried.

How to repair your wood floor after water damage

The first step to take when repairing a water damaged wood floor is to make certain that it is completely dry. If you don’t do this, you could make the damage worse. Even with professional equipment, the drying process could take several days.

Next, eliminate the cause of the flood. Find out what caused the flood, and make sure that it won’t happen again. You may have a burst pipe, or a leaky heating system. It’s essential that you pinpoint the cause and deal with it, or you will have the same problem time and again.

Repairing minor damage to wood floors

If the damage is relatively minor, you may be able to sand away up to a ¼ inch to remove bowing, cupping, or surface mold and mildew. If the flooring is prefinished in the factory, you may find it difficult to marry in the repaired area with the surrounding area. If this is likely to be the case, you should consider making a more exacting repair by replacing planks with pre-finished flooring bought from the same supplier.

Even if you do replace a few planks, you may find that the repaired area still stands out. This is because over time a wood floor will change color as it becomes affected by traffic and sunlight in the room. This aging process is practically impossible to avoid. For this reason, even moderate damage caused by flooding may lead to a complete floor replacement.

Replacing planks in a damaged wood floor

If you do need to replace some planks to make the repair, it is important to replace planks around the area of damage as well as those directly affected. This will reduce the risk of unseen mold growing in the future.

To make the repair as seamless as possible, you should remove whole planks in a pattern that will allow the new to ‘weave’ with the old, thus hiding the repair.

Inspect the subfloor and replace as necessary

As you are removing the floor planks, you should inspect the plywood subfloor. If it has been damaged, it will need to be replaced, too.

Concrete underlayers must be allowed to dry thoroughly before replacing the floor above. This will stop water and moisture from the concrete creating further problems later. Use a moisture meter to ensure that the concrete layer is dry (see our blog ‘Is water leaking into your wall’ for tips on how to do this).

Replace the subfloor and wood floor planks

Once you have ensured that the subfloor and concrete are dry, you can replace the subfloor and wood floor planks, weaving them in as described above. This is a job for experienced craftsmen, who will size, cut and install, before sanding and finishing the whole floor.

While minor water damage repair to wood floors is within most people’s grasp (providing they have the time, of course), a larger repair is best left to the experts. We will ensure that your repaired floor doesn’t look like it has been repaired, using the best-quality materials and fitted by talented craftsmen and technicians who have many years of experience with wood floors.

If your wood floor has suffered a flood, the sooner you contact Porter's Cleaning, the easier and cheaper the solution to your problems will be. We’ll assess the problem, and tell you what course of action is likely to provide the most cost-effective and long-lasting solution – so you don’t have to worry about making a single mistake.

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