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If your home or office has suffered from flooding, keeping the cost of restoration to a minimum is likely to be one of your main concerns. You’ll need to assess the extent of the damage done, decide on what to replace and what to restore, and then work methodically to restore your water damaged wood furniture.

We’ve discussed how to repair water damaged wood before, when we described a simple seven-step process that’s ideal to use on walls and floors. In this article, we’ll look at how to tackle furniture that has been water damaged – some of which may be valuable in either absolute worth or sentimentally.

What damage can water do to wooden furniture?

Any wood that is subjected to water can change dramatically. Wooden furniture can warp, expand and crack, and joints could be loosened. While a small spillage is unlikely to do much harm, a flood that goes undetected for a few days can damage furniture beyond repair.

How to restore water damaged wood furniture ­ – the first step

The first thing to do will be to assess how bad the water damage is, and what can be restored cost-effectively. With some items of furniture, like antiques, the high cost of restoration may be recouped by the item’s actual value. On other items, sentimental value will need to be considered. And there will be some furniture that can be more cost-effectively replaced, without pulling on purse or heart strings.

This process of assessing damage and costs can be boiled down to four parts:

  • Assess how bad the damage is
  • Get a quote for restoration
  • Compare replacement with restoration costs
  • Decide which furniture to replace, and which to restore

A quick word about antique furniture

If you’ve ever watched television programmes about antiques, you’ll know that restoration can be severely damaging to value. You must be sympathetic with antique furniture, especially after it has been damaged by water. Antique furniture must be properly dried and cleaned. This takes time – if the piece of furniture is dried too quickly, it’s more likely to warp, crack, and split.

Antique furniture must be treated with kid gloves, often off-site, and should only be attempted by experienced furniture restorers.

Repairing other wooden furniture after water damage

Furniture that has been veneered may be among the most severely damaged, especially if it has been under water for a few days. These items are generally made from particleboard or plywood, both of which expand with water. The veneer comes apart, and the inner core becomes weakened. When this type of damage has been caused by water you’ll be better to replace veneered furniture rather than attempt a restoration.

Solid wood furniture is a better target for restoration work. However, you’ll need specialist woodworking tools and clamps to make a good repair.

How to restore water damaged wood when it’s cost-effective to do so

You’ve assessed the damage that has been caused to your furniture, and you’ve decided which pieces should be restored and those that need to be replaced. Now comes the hard, time-consuming work:

  • Remove drawers, doors and back panels. Don’t force drawers out though – they may have expanded and become stuck.
  • Hose down and use cleaning solutions to remove mud, dirt, and any mold that may already be present.
  • Put the item of furniture in a well-ventilated storage space to dry out. Whatever you do, DON’T attempt to dry furniture in the sun: it will warp, discolor, and become damaged beyond repair.
  • Every few hours, check your drying furniture. As previously stuck drawers and doors become free, remove them. Be warned: the drying process could take weeks, or even months.
  • While the wood is drying, mold and mildew can still grow. Clean any mold from all wood surfaces, and make sure you avoid the five mistakes most people make when removing mold.
  • Once dry, the piece of furniture will need to be made good. Warped boards will need straightening, joints will need to be reset and re-glued, and finishes that are cracked or flaked will need to be restored.

Restoring furniture after light water damage

Even where flooding has not been serious, you may find that your furniture has signs of light water damage.

A clouded surface or white spots can be cleaned effectively by using a damp, clean cloth and a solution of ½ a cup of ammonia and ½ a cup of water. Wipe the surface, and dry with a clean, dry cloth. If the piece has returned to its original color, apply a wax polish to complete the clean.

If color has not been restored, call a professional to quote for a restore: it may need stripping and refinishing.

When doing any restoration work, the faster you act the better the chance that your furniture will be returned to its pre-water damaged state. However, the restoration process should never be rushed. Wood takes time to dry out, before the really hard work begins. Unless you’re a professional cabinet maker, carpenter, or furniture restorer, the most cost-effective strategy to restore water damaged wood will be to call in the professionals early. We’re available 24/7: contact Porter’s today and we’ll be pleased to give advice and a free quote for any water damage suffered by your carpet.

P.S. You might also find our article about how to repair water damaged wall blistering useful.

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