What to do when a water-leak damages your hardwood floor

We hear a lot of customers say the cause of their water damaged wood floor is because their dishwasher or refrigerator leaked and they didn’t know how to dry their floors properly. Our guide below will offer some tips on how to assess the floor, DIY solutions, and when to call a professional.

wood floor cuppingThe Problem: Cupping

When water is allowed to saturate a wood floor the result is a condition we refer to as cupping pictured here:

This happens because more moisture is absorbed by the unfinished underside of the boards causing the bottom of each board to expand more than the top. The result is a wavy appearance and each course of wood is raised at the seams. In most cases the wood is not ruined.

hardwood floor cuppingThe wood is ruined if the boards cup so badly they begin to actually lift off the floor pulling the fasteners up like the floor pictured above. The only solution here is to tear-out and replace the wood.

The Solution:

1. Dry the floor out

drying out hardwood floors

When wood gets wet, it has to be dried out, which can be done in three ways.

The quick way:

There are many companies that offer dehumidifier services that can dry out your floors very quickly. This is a great option because you do not have to wait and many home-insurance providers will pay for this service. If you’re in the Kansas City area check out Certified Water and Mold Restoration.

The slow way:

Wood will eventually dry out on its own and become almost completely flat again. However, this can take anywhere from 2-12 months depending on air-movement, temperature, and relative humidity in the home. When I go out on calls like this I always measure the moisture content of the wood. The important thing is that we eventually get consistent reading throughout the entire floor. Running a fan or small dehumidifier on your own can decrease the time it takes to dry the floor out

The alternative way:

Another option is to tear-out the wood that is wet and replace it. This allows the floors to be fixed right away, and may be cheaper than paying for them to be dried out.

2. Sand and refinish

hardwood floor sanding

Once the floor has been dried out, hire a professional like Totta Hardwood Flooring to come sand and refinish your floor. The good news is that most of the time these types of situations are covered by home-owners insurance.

Schedule Consultation

What to avoid in during the repair

Hardwood flooring cupping and crowning diagram

Cupping vs. Crowning

The biggest mistake I see made is floors getting sanded while they are still wet and cupped. If a floor is sanded before it is fully dried, it will be flat initially, but have problems down the road. When the floor eventually dries out, you will get the reverse effect of the cupping referred to as crowning. The image shown illustrates the difference between the two.

It’s not the end of the world if your floor gets wet. In some cases it can be a blessing in disguise because you may get your insurance to pay for your entire floor to get refinished. If you are in the Kansas City area and struggling with a water damaged wood floor, give me a call, I’m always willing to help.

Schedule Consultation