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How to Fix Water Damaged Hardwood Floors?

by MyNextHouseProject
water damaged hardwood floors

A Complete Guide to Fix Water Damaged Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors have always been my favorite type of flooring, no matter what aesthetic I am going for. There is nothing that can bring a luxurious feel to your space that these beauties do.

Hardwood floorings are incredibly popular among interior designers and homeowners. From offices to the home interior to the dance studio floor, hardwood floors are an ideal pick for every space.   

But even the prettiest hardwood floors have their weak points.

These floors tend to absorb water and get severely damaged as a result.

When your hardwood flooring is exposed to water, it will lead to multiple unpleasant changes in the wood.

The wood planks may lose their natural look or get damaged entirely.

Super frustrating, right?

But don’t worry. There’s always a solution to the problem.  

Today, you’ll learn how to fix water damaged hardwood floors and make them as good as new.

How to Tell if Your Floor is Damaged with Water?

Did you notice any changes in your hardwood floor?

It is a sign that your floor has been exposed to water damage.

The water-damaging effect on a hardwood floor is not instant. It builds over time.

Here are a few signs to tell if your floor is water damaged.

Hardwood Floor in Entry

Planks Buckling

If your wood floor is damaged with water, you may observe cupping of single planks or crowning of multiple planks, making them look hump.

When the floor wood absorbs water, it expands. This expansion can make the whole plank or various planks buckling.

Staining on the Floor

There may appear black or dark staining on a water damaged floor.

Water accumulation beneath wood planks results in mold growth. This mold combines with the tannins in woodturning color, resulting in staining.

Tannins react when they come in contact with the water minerals. It leads to wood staining, or you may observe rust along the edges of a plank.  

Hardwood Flooring Natural Oak

Fixing the Water Damaged Floor by Replacing Damaged Flooring

You may sand, refinish, and re-coat the wood floor to repair water damage, but is not a permanent solution.

The best way to avoid and fix water damage for wood floors is to get them repaired.

For this, you will have to take out the affected planks and replace them with new boards.

The process will take time, and you may need the services of a professional craftsman to do the job.

However, you may DIY replace the water damaged hardwood floor by following these six simple steps.

Water Demage Hardwood Flooring

Step #1. Identify the Source of the Water

It is crucial to find out the original source of water before replacing the water damaged flooring.

Once you identify the source, take some steps to resolve the source of water that is damaging your hardwood floor.

If you replace the flooring without resolving the problem, it will repeat and damage your floor after a few weeks or months.

Step #2. Identify Which Planks Need to be Replaced

This is certain that you’ll have to replace the planks that are visually appearing damaged with water.

But, there might be invisible mold, mildew, or water accumulation on the non-affected planks that may appear in the future.

Therefore, you’ll also have to take additional planks out, surrounding the damaged planks. It will create a buffer to ensure that hidden damage to the surface won’t occur again.

You may, alternatively, select the planks in an even pattern to ensure the seamless repair look.

Water Damaged Hardwood Floor

Step #3. Remove the Water Damaged Flooring

Once you have selected the planks to be replaced, remove them carefully.

When you remove the top layer of wood, make sure to inspect the plywood base. If you find that the plywood subfloor is weakened by water or has mold growth, then make sure to pull off the top layers.

Step #4. Ensure that the Concrete Floor is Dry

Is there concrete underneath your plywood base?

If yes, then you must ensure that it is dry. Allow moisture to expel that may have been trapped by the concrete subfloor.

Remember that if you patch new plywood into the existing concrete without letting it dry, it will cause problems later. The moisture or mold will travel through the base of wood planks, damaging its surface.

Step #5. Install the New Hardwood Planks

Once you’re sure that the concrete subfloor is dry, it’s time to install new flooring.

Note. Consider installing a moisture barrier, if necessary, and an appropriate sound barrier, such as cork, if you live in a high-rise building. It will help avoid future problems.

Now you can start the process of selecting, cutting, sizing, and installing the new wood planks.

For this step, I’d recommend taking the help of an experienced floor installation company. Otherwise, you need to give the closest attention to details to avoid gaps between the planks.

Doing it wrong can create potential structural problems. There may also appear gaps between old and new wood, creating canyons like appearance.

Stained Finish Hardwood Floor

Step #6. Sand and Refinish the Entire Floor

Once you have appropriately installed the new planks, it is time to sand and refinishes the entire flooring for a more uniform look.

Sanding and refinishing will also make old planks look new and sleek as the wood loses its natural color over time due to sunlight and other factors.

However, if your budget doesn’t allow you to refinish the entire floor, then do a spot refinish.

Refinish the newly installed planks to match the color of old boards. Or tweak the stain color on the wood.

However, the task can be challenging. You may find it hard to match the color of new and old planks unless you refinish the whole of it.

That’s all, and you’re done.

Tips to Prevent Damages to Your Hardwood Flooring

To keep your new or existing hardwood floor from any damages, it is crucial to maintain it properly.

Here are a few tips to limit the floor damages.  


Keep the Sealant Up and Running

The sealant is like wax to keep your wooden floors undamaged. Sealants offer a layer of protection to the wood floors, preventing it from excessive water damage.

However, remember that having a sealant will not entirely keep the floor undamaged. It only offers a temporary buffer to help you remove spills from the floor.

Keep a Check on Potential Water Sources

There are a few routine checkups that you need to ensure to limit the floor’s water damage.

Make sure that there is no water on the flooring for a long time. Keep an eye on water coming to the floor from humid areas such as the bathroom and kitchen.

Immediately remove any water spills on the floor with a dry towel or cloth.


Clean with Care

The best way to make sure that the hardwood floor is durable is to clean it properly.

For this, make sure to sweep and vacuum regularly.

Although both sweeping and vacuuming are water-free cleaning processes, they will make sure that the floor is dust-free.

Similarly, while cleaning, you can spot out any possible water spills too.

Wrapping it Up

If your hardwood floor is damaged with water, fix it by using the steps mentioned above. Also, make sure to keep your floor from water at first by following the tips mentioned above.

If the damage is more intense and you can’t fix it yourself, consider taking help from a professional.

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