A Step-by-Step Guide to Repairing a Water-Damaged Wood Floor

Even when there hasn’t been a threat of flood or hurricane weather, water damage can sometimes be easily caused by an overflowing bathtub, the running hose the kids brought into the house, water heater floods, and pipe leaks gone unnoticed for a period of time. Whatever the disaster, you’ve got spilled water all over your beautiful hardwood floors, and a section of it has been damaged. Fear not, worried homeowner: We’re here to help you restore your floors.


via WikiHow

  1. Dry It Out

Mop up excess water, and then use towels to dry down the floors. Getting everything dry will help to reduce the amount of warping as well as prevent fungus spores from blooming into mold and mildew. Get a commercial-grade dehumidifier and run it for at least 2 days to remove as much moisture as possible.

  1. Ventilation

Crack open nearby windows two inches as long as the climate is dry. If an air conditioning unit is available, turn it on. Angle fans, preferably industrial-size fans, to either draw in dry, warm air, or to draw the moisture out of the room.

  1. Check Affected Areas

Pull the baseboard trim off in the areas affected, and let stand to dry elsewhere. You may also need to remove damaged sheetrock. If there is a basement, crawl space, or room below the flooded area, drill holes into the ceiling to prevent collected puddles of water. If the water damage was significant, cutting a repairable square in the ceiling is an option to further encourage the drying process. It’s especially important that sub-floors made out of plywood have as much ventilation as they can get to dry out as fast as possible. Also don’t forget to remove the insulation in the flooded areas.

  1. Relieve Floor Stress

During the drying and warping process, the boards may start to buckle, making the floor difficult to walk on. Remove two boards along the entire middle of the room to relieve the buckling. This will also help to speed up the drying process.


via Jackson Built Homes

  1. Inform Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company

They may be able to cover all the expenses, so keep all receipts and documents related to this project in a special place where they can’t get lost or accidentally tossed.

  1. Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC)

Wood floor contractors have an electronic device that measures the amount of moisture content in the wood. You’ll want to have a contractor come out and take an EMC of an unaffected area in the house, and then compare it to the EMC of the flooded area. Take note of all measurements and the dates performed. Your ultimate goal is to have the flooded area reach the same reading as the unaffected area. This will prevent premature sanding and repairs of the floors which could further negatively reduce the life of the floor and cause more repair work.

  1. Wait

This step may be the hardest because it’s important to wait until the floor is sufficiently dry. This can take up to a year depending on the severity of the damage done.

  1. Back to Work

Replace any boards that you removed, any sub-flooring that needed replacement, and insulation that was trashed. Sand down the hardwood floors to a flat, level surface. You may want to refinish with a stain or with mineral spirits. Remember to varnish with a sealant.

  1. Final Tidbits

Re-install baseboard trim, and repair any holes or openings that were made for ventilation. Remember to inspect carefully for any signs of mold or mildew.

The timeless beauty that hardwood floors offer can quickly become an expensive, laborious, and time-consuming restoration, repair, and replacement project when there’s been water damage. But don’t fret, knowing what to do can enable you to still save your hardwood floors with little stress.

Need home ideas and inspiration? I recommend checking out Modernize.

Tim Smith is a former contractor who writes about home improvement and energy efficiency topics. Tim loves spending Tim with his family and loves DIY projects. Tim’s Social Media: Twitter
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