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Wood Floor Water Damage
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Restoring Water Damaged Wood Floors
Can water damaged wood floors be restored? It depends (which is my normal answer to most questions). Hardwood flooring has the highest probability of being restorable, but it depends on:
- the saturation level of the wood. Totally saturated wood can swell the cell structure of the wood and cause permanent damage.
- how long the wood has been exposed to the water damage. A large volume of water extracted immediately creates much less damage to the wood floors than a small amount of water that has been leaking for a while. Indoor air quality is a concern with older water damages.
- how much the water damage has affected the installation. Wood that is cupping (curling up a little on the edges) can possibly be restored. Buckling wood floors (the swelling wood has broken loose from its installation to the subfloor) cannot be repaired.
- if it is prefinished. A factory applied finish typically has an addition of aluminum oxide and is cured with ultraviolet light. A severe water damage can cause the wood to swell and the factory applied finish will not, which creates a checkered or alligator look.
- it’s condition prior to the water damage. If the floor was already stained or cupped it can only be restored to its condition prior to the water damage.
- the category of water damage. Clean water sources (Category 1) typically allow for restoration. Sewage or Flood water (Category 3) standards require replacement in most cases.
What is Wood Floor Restoration?
It also depends on what you mean by restoration. At Tier Restoration, we use wood floor drying mats that lay on the floor and are connected to a powerful vacuum which sucks the moisture out of the wood. Many times heat is applied below the floor and plastic sheeting is installed over the mats to “float” it with hot, dry air. In some cases, that is enough to restore the wood floor to its original condition. All that might be necessary is mopping the floor and you are done. In other cases, after drying the floor with the wood floor drying mats they will need to be sanded and refinished. The restoration can also be a combination of removing and replacing a section of the floor that was damaged beyond repair then sanding and finishing the entire floor.
Can engineered wood floors be restored? It depends (sorry). Usually, the answer is no. Engineered floors are like plywood with the top layer being the nice stained and prefinished wood that you see. In rare cases, the damage is slight and the top layer is thick enough to withstand a light sanding.
What about laminate flooring? Usually not. Laminate flooring is basically fiberboard (wood fibers pressed together) with a veneer of wood, or even a thin sheet and picture of wood on top. When it gets wet, it swells and will not return to its original shape when dry. If damaged by water, it is permanently damaged.
What Kind of Water Damage?
In all cases of restoring water damaged wood floors, the water must be from a clean source (Category 1 according to the S500). All wood that has been damaged from an unsanitary source (sewage, flood, groundwater, etc) cannot be restored.
For help restoring water damaged wood floors, call Tier Restoration at 615-371-5355.
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