How To Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Water Damage

The Mountain Life Team Blogger April 2, 2012

Hardwood floors are a terrific investment for your home. However, should your floors experience water damage, there are alternatives to removal and replacement. Restoring hardwood is now a popular option for homeowners, allowing them to fore go the expensive alternative to completely replacing their hardwood floors. Matching existing flooring can be very difficult, and replacement is not only extremely time consuming but costly, compared with restorative drying methods.

Drying Hardwoods Floors
When assessing the amount of water damage and the level of repair required, there are two key elements that must be considered: the length of time that water saturated the wood and the quantity of moisture within the floor.

Until recently, two construction factors have interfered with a contractor’s ability to dry hardwood flooring. First, the flooring is nearly always nailed to the sub-flooring, preventing adequate access to the subsurface side. Second, the attractive finishes applied to the surface of the wood have low permanence, acting as effective moisture barriers. These two characteristics trap unwanted moisture in the wood.

Staining

Although wood decay is the most important issue in long-term water damage to wood products, physical damage emerges as the primary concern when dealing with hardwood. As the hardwood absorbs water, swelling occurs, resulting in warping and staining.

If nails are present in flooring that has excess moisture for a long period of time, oxidation can develop and stain the wood around the nails. In some cases, the nails are already oxidized, and water damage simply accelerates the existing flood damage.
If the floor is water stained, re-finishing may be necessary.

Cupping, Crowning and Buckling

Tremendous pressures build as hardwood absorbs water, which can cause saturated hardwood to become permanently stressed and damaged if left unattended. When exposed to water, hardwood floors can buckle, cup or crown. Buckling is separation from the sub floor, while cupping and crowning are warps that bend away from the moist sections of the wood. With immediate attention, a professional experienced in restoring hardwood can often prevent permanent water damage to wood flooring.