Can You Salvage Your Water Damaged Floor?
You probably know by now that water and wood don’t mix. In fact, for home or business owners who have had wood floors installed, they must have been warned repeatedly by the installation crew about the dangers that water poses to the wood. But you can’t always predict issues like the hose of your washing machine bursting, the dishwasher leaking, or a hurricane bearing through your town and leaving your home all flooded. Can the affected wood floor be repaired, or will it need to be replaced?
First thing’s first: getting rid of the water problem. The hygroscopic wood will absorb as much water as it can as it tries to achieve a balance in the moisture gradient between its tissues and the surrounding environment. The sooner that you can get rid of the water, the higher the chances that the wood floor can be fully restored. From cleaning up spills the moment they occur, to shutting off the main valve when dealing with broke pipes – then mopping up the water and allowing the room to be properly ventilated, the goal is to get the floor dry as fast as possible. Certainly, the cause of the leakage or flooding incident will need to be addressed as well, such as for those cases where it’s an issue with the pipework, or there are clogged toilets.
How Do I Know My Floor Has Water Damage?
The extent of the effects that the water will have on your floor will vary, and this will largely depend on how long it was wet. Typical signs to look out for include:
- Cupping – Here the individual floorboards will have their edges raising higher than the middle.
- Crowning – It’s essentially the reverse of cupping, with the middle of the affected boards swelling and rising
- Buckling – As more water is absorbed by the floor, it can buckle upwards.
- Water stains – Water also leaves behind spots on the floor, which will be a stark contrast to the rest of the surrounding surface.
- Mould growth – This can stake some time to develop, and it’s a result of allowing the floor to remain wet for days
Factors Determining Whether You Will Repair Or Replace The Floor Boards
Issues to take into account include:
- The length of exposure – How long has there been water on the wood? The longer the duration, the greater the extent of damage. For the severity of the damage, also consider if it is only on the surface, or it has penetrated right into the subfloor.
- The type of wood – Is your floor solid hardwood or is it an engineered wood installation? With solid wood, there is a greater chance of getting repaired, since the floor sanding can be done to a deeper extent, even sanding away a quarter of the wood tissue if needed in order to remove the cupping or mould that’s grown in the material. Note that the floor sanding should only be done after the boards have been allowed to dry and stabilise. After the sanding, they can then be restained. For engineered wood flooring, only a thin layer on the installed is actually real wood that can be sanded, so that there is less wiggle room for repair.
- The floor finish – This can prove to be problematic when you want to replace isolated floorboards. Machining the new boards and finishing with the existing wood stain on the rest of the floor can be difficult, especially since the treatments look and feel gradually change over time.
For cases where the damage is in a small section of the floor, you can simply replace the affected boards, then have a floor sanding and refinishing of the whole surface. For severe and extensive damage, the entire flooring may need to be replaced.
Do you suspect a case of water damage? It’s recommended that you have the condition of your floor assessed by a qualified wood flooring professional. An assessment of your situation will be followed by a quotation on how much it will cost to either repair or replace the wood floor. But just who do you hire? Let’s look at some pointers.
You want to ensure that your floor is in safe hands, and that you’re getting advice from a company that you can trust. All through the floorcare process, whether you’re dealing water damage and restoration, or carrying out a floor sanding and refinishing task, it is critical for you to engage with a licensed business whose crew have the training and experience needed for the job. In fact, this should be one of the main issues you ask about when talking to the company representative. What kind of certification and accreditation does the company and its employees have? How long has it been providing the services? A company that has been in the floor care and maintenance industry for years, while maintaining a good track record, will give you more peace of mind compared to a one that is barely a week old and whose claim to professionalism is simply a “promise to deliver quality results”.
What kind of feedback has the company received? Going to their social media pages and the listings on business directories, check through the comments that other clients have left behind about the business. Are the reviews positive or negative? For the negative reviews, has the company’s support staff reached out to the clients to address the issue? In fact, this can help in showing you how much commitment the company has in ensuring that their clients are satisfied with the services they provide.
What about the warranty? What recourse do you have if you’re not satisfied with the quality of the services? Going through the warranty terms to ensure that you’re comfortable with the service that you’re signing up for. Insurance coverage also matters. After all, one can’t be 100% certain that there won’t be an accident, even when you’re dealing with a company that has been in the floorcare industry for decades. Mishaps during the floor sanding and refinishing process can be costly, and you want to ensure that you’re protected from liabilities in the event of an accident on your property.