Whether the damage stemmed from a burst pipe, or destructive weather, knowing how to fix water damage on wood floors can save you the cost of ripping out wood flooring and replacing it.
Water damaged hardwood or laminate floors require prompt attention, and knowing how to treat and minimize water damage quickly can preserve your entire floor and reduce the time you spend fixing them.
Here’s a quick index to navigate through this article:
- What Happens When Water Soaks Into a Wood Floor?
- How to Save Your Wood Floor
- What You’ll Need
- Get Rid of Any Water on the Surface
- Clean the Floor
- Spot Treat Areas
- Allow the Floor to Dry
- Assess and Treat the Damage
- Wait Before Sanding
What Happens When Water Soaks Into a Wood Floor?
When hardwood floors get exposed to lots of water, you’re going to get more than just water stains on wood surfaces. Water stained wood floors can warp and twist as they dry out, and many homeowners eagerly want to know, will cupped hardwood floors flatten out over time?
Cupping is fairly common and something you’ll likely face as you work out on fixing warped hardwood floors from water damage in your home.
Cupping is when the boards have a concave shape to them and bow inwards. This change causes the boards’ edges to rise, so they are higher than the middle section, which makes the entire floor uneven.
How to Save Your Wood Floor
Once you know how to deal with water damage to your wood floors, you can start gathering materials and plan the steps ahead. Here’s what we suggest when it comes to restoring water-soaked hardwood floors.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, gather up these materials and have them on hand for the restoration process:
- A shop vac (without the paper bag), or another wet vacuum
- Sturdy rubber gloves
- Squeegee (with a long handle)
- A brush that won’t damage the floor
- A mild cleanser or disinfectant if needed
- Plenty of towels or other absorbent cloths
The type of cleanser you use here isn’t the most critical factor, but Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) is a popular option that doesn’t leave behind a residue like many cleaners.
Disinfectants, gloves, and a squeegee are optional, but they can make the cleanup process more accessible and comfortable.
The sooner you address your wet hardwood flooring, the better your outcome is likely to be as wood fibers are quick to absorb moisture but take much longer to release it. Here’s our list of steps so you can quickly figure out how to save a water-damaged wood floor in your home.
01. Get Rid of Any Water on the Surface
Removing the water from the surface of water-soaked hardwood floors is a critical first step that you should complete as soon as possible. Once the water is off the floor, it can begin to release the moisture it absorbed, and you can expect this to take quite a bit of time.
02. Clean the Floor
Once you have mopped up the excess water, it’s time to clean the floor of any debris that you find.
Regardless of the type of cleaner, you’re using, it’s an excellent idea to get ventilation into the area of the damaged floor to help speed the drying process and deter any mold growth.
More details here: A Step-by-Step Guide on Cleaning Hardwood Floors
03. Spot Treat Areas
Once you’ve got the floor clean and a little bit drier, it’s time to assess any spots or general areas that need special treatment. If you find any mold growth, the best option is to clean it with TSP or a comparable product and gently scrub it until any mold or discoloration evidence disappears.
04. Allow the Floor to Dry
The hardest part for many homeowners is how to remove moisture from hardwood floors quickly without causing the planks to crack. You can’t rush this process, but you can expedite it by adding fans and opening windows for better cross-ventilation.
The best option is to allow the floor to dry naturally, but this takes time, and if you live in a high humidity area, you’ll want to assess whether the humidity is higher outside.
If the humidity is higher outside than inside, it’s best to use fans to keep air moving and keep the windows closed.
05. Assess and Treat the Damage
Only when the wood floor has returned to its natural moisture level at around 20% can you honestly assess the damage and the next steps for repair.
Clean any discolored areas as needed, note any cupping or warping, remove damaged baseboards if you have them, and consistently remove any wet material or debris you find.
06. Wait Before Sanding
If you find yourself with warped wood floors due to water, don’t immediately resort to aggressive sanding until you’ve given the floor plenty of time to dry and return to its average level of moisture.
Since wood is excellent at holding in moisture after exposure to a lot of water, it’s essential that you give it at least a few weeks to return to normal.
Final Thoughts: How To Save A Water-Damaged Wood Floor
When you promptly address your water-damaged floor, you stand a better chance of restoring it with less labor and expense involved.
With some simple tools and a basic cleanser, many floors mostly return to their normal state once they are thoroughly dry, while others will require sanding and refinishing.