Water Damage To Hardwood Floors Is Inevitable

If you have hardwood floors in your home, sooner or later, one way or another, you are going to have them damaged due to water. Out of control humidity issues, spills, floods due to broken pipes or appliances, tracked in water, snow, or ice, and even accidents by pets can all be extremely damaging to hardwood floors. You can avoid a lot of these problems if you keep in mind some simple steps that you can take to limit hardwood floor damage.

Step 1: Limiting Hardwood Floor Damage – Take Action Immediately

Water damage to hardwood floors is progressive. The longer the floor is exposed to excess water or humidity, the greater the damage becomes. As wood floorboards absorb moisture, they expand, both vertically and horizontally. The vertical expansion is caused by water being absorbed by the edges of each board and creates cupping, the edges becoming thicker than the board’s center. Horizontal expansion causes the boards to “grow” in width. As each board expands horizontally the gap on each side of the room’s walls gets smaller and smaller. There will come a point where the floor’s side-to-side expansion completely fills the gap between the floor and the wall. The floor will continue to expand but will have nowhere to expand to. With no more room, the boards will buckle, or move upward, to release the pressure. The damage from buckling is permanent and will require costly board replacement. The entire floor will then require sanding and refinishing.

Step 2: Preventing Hardwood Floor Damage – Immediate Cleaning

When a spill of any kind occurs it is imperative that the spill be cleaned up as fast as possible. Small spills can be cleaned up with soft, absorbent towels because the water will have not penetrated beyond the surface of the floor.. After drying up as much of the spill as you can, you should place a fan next to the affected area to help increase the rate of evaporation. In the case of a large spill or flood, such as those from a broken water line, a water heater, or a refrigerator ice-maker line for example, you are going to need professional assistance. The correct professional restorer will have the specialized equipment necessary to remove the excess water quickly and to promote rapid drying. The longer a hardwood floor remains wet, the greater the damage to it. A larger water loss will allow the water to penetrate under the floor and affect the sub-floor, which will make drying the floor next to impossible for a homeowner. If acted upon within the first 24-36 hours, most hardwood floors can be dried successfully with little or no further repairs required.

Step 3: Restoration – After Water Damage Occurs

If your hardwood floor is already showing signs of warping or cupping, call a professional restoration company as soon as the damage is noticed. A hardwood floor installer will not be able to help you at this point. The floor must be dried back to NWFA/NOFMA (National Wood Flooring Association / National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association) standards. These standards will vary depending on the region of the country in which you live. A qualified restoration professional will know this standard. If your floor is sanded and/or re-finished before being brought back to the proper dryness standard, it may be damaged beyond repair.

Hardwood floor damage is something you can prepare for and limit, depending on the cause of the damage. Small spills can be easily taken care of by homeowners, large spills and floods, or leaks over time will require professional assistance. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better your chances of saving your floor.