Tips to drying out your hardwood floors after water damage

Polished hardwood timber flooring provides a classic and sophisticated look to any home. A beautiful and elegant hardwood floor can easily become ruined in the event of water inundation.

It would be normal for many to consider their hardwood timber flooring damaged beyond repair and in need of replacement after such water damage, but the fact is by taking the necessary steps early on you can eliminate the need to replace them.

Taking to the task of cleaning up the water and drying out the floors can drastically help decrease the chance of cupping.

Cupping is formed when there is a moisture imbalance across the profile of the timber boards. Moisture in the air from humidity is absorbed into the timber and the floor boards will swell and contract as the moisture level changes.

When there is an excessive amount of water laying on top of the boards, there is a real chance the boards will swell to a point that they crush each other causing them to deform and cup at the edges.

So whether you have a major flood or just experience a localised water spill from say a failed washing machine or dishwater, the need for a quick response using our below tips is paramount.

If you think your floors can be dried out and refreshed rather than having to replace them, then there is special drying equipment that forces airflow around and through the surface of the floor to release moisture.

There are several steps that need to be followed in order to dry out re-use the original hardwood boards.

Types of hardwood timber flooring that can be dried and repaired

Most common hardwood floor boards can be dried, sanded and recoated.

These types of boards are solid natural timber that have a natural moisture content. These can vary between types of timber, however the fact remains they can accept some level of water before being permanently damaged.

The types of timber flooring that typically cannot be dried out and repaired are engineered and laminate boards.

Engineered floor boards have layers of plywood with a top layer of hardwood. The plywood will eventually swell and rot when exposed to large amounts of water.

Laminate flooring is simply a covering that will bubble and distort.

Ok so our recommended steps for drying out your hardwood floors:

1. Remove all items from the water effected rooms

Furniture and rugs will soak up water and retain the moisture until dry.

The moisture will seep into the boards, so you’ll need to remove all furniture items and rugs as soon as possible.

Getting access to all surface areas will allow a complete and thorough drying process.

2. Mop up excess water laying in low areas

Remove all excess water laying in low spots. Depending on the amount of stagnate water you can use a mop or a proper wet vacuum.

The next stage is to scrub down the entire floor surface to remove any contaminates. So be sure to remove as much as the flood water as possible.

3. Scrub down the entire floor surface

Cleaning the floor surface will remove any contaminates from the flood water that may cause damage at a later stage.

Contaminants can sit in the pours of the timber and be trapped causing mould to develop.

Wash down and scrub the floor surface with a mould removal based disinfectant solution to remove all contaminants.

After cleaning the entire hardwood floor surface, mop and/or wet vacuum the area making sure to remove all traces of moisture.

4. Completely dry out the timber flooring

As we’ve already covered, hardwood timber is specifically susceptible to mould growth when the moisture content is abnormal. It’s therefore important to ensure the hardwood floor boards and floor structure are completely dry.

The most efficient system at drying out the floors is one by using a commercial dehumidifier and blowers and large fans.

The dehumidifier sits in the centre of the room/s whilst the fans pointed at the floor boards directs airflow around which boosts the efficiency of the dehumidifier.

Leave this system setup for 24 – 48 hours.

To allow the dehumidifier to extract the moisture, make sure to open windows only in dry weather conditions.

5. Inspect for damage and mould

Only once the floors are completely dry can you check for damage and mould growth.

If the water was left lying on the floor boards for too long, they would have swell and cupped after a couple of days drying out.

Check all boards for cracks, swelling and cupping.

If there are signs of damage, then you’ll need to make a decision on whether you replace the individual boards or replace an entire section.

Check for and spots or signs of mould growth.

A close inspection hopefully will reveal no signs of mould, however if there is suspected mould growth now is the time to have it removed.

Clean the affected areas with a mould release agent and roll back over the steps for drying out the surface with the dehumidifier.

6. Check for signs of moisture

When all areas have been checked for damage and mould growth, and you’re happy with the results, now you can take a moisture level test in various different spots.

Make sure to check many areas to give an accurate reading of the moisture levels.

You should aim to have the moisture levels below the natural moisture content level of the timber.

7. Sand & re-coat the entire hardwood flooring surface

After completing the exhaustive steps for drying out the hardwood floors, you now can have them sanded, re coated and polished to bring them back to a beautiful and elegant finish.

Freedom Flooring are specialists in hardwood floor restoration. Our sanding and re-coating process can have your water damaged floors brought back to their original elegant look.

No job is too big or too small, so give us a call or contact us via the enquiry form.