Hardwood floors are a beautiful and popular option for many homeowners. But, hardwood can be damaged by water in kitchens and bathrooms. In the event of water damage, should you automatically replace your hardwood floors? Or, is it possible to simply repair them? Keep reading to find out what some of our readers had to say.
Freshwater and Time Are Deciding Factors
Depending on when the water made contact with the floor, you may be able to clean up the spill without damaging the floor. Water damage to hardwood floors is more likely to worsen the longer it remains in place.
You may be able to fix minor damage yourself and not have to replace your hardwood floors if the damage involves cleaning up a white water stain.
It is essential to set up ventilation fans in the room if the floor has swelled from humidity. The flooring can also be dried out faster and moisture captured in the room by setting up a dehumidifier.
Freshwater that doesn’t contain harmful bacteria is the least dangerous. The most common example would be a bathtub or sink overflowing with water.
It is perfectly safe to clean up freshwater if it has not been contaminated with bacteria, which could cause mold growth or foul odors. Depending on the amount of water and how quickly it can be removed, it’s least likely that you’ll have to replace the floor in this case.
Wood that is severely warped, rotting, or has developed mold or mildew problems should be replaced.
Determine the Extent of the Damage
White water stains can be easily repaired, even by DIYers. But if the moisture has seeped through the inside part of the planks, you might as well replace them entirely.
You will never be able to dry [the planks] completely, so you’re going to encounter problems with mold growth and damage in the future. Moisture also attracts ants and other insects and vermin, exacerbating the damage over time.
Stained Surface – Repair The Wood; Bent and Warped – Replace The Floor
Most of the time, hardwood that is water damaged is bent and warped. If that is the case, it is better to replace the floor.
If the hardwood is not warped but stained on the surface, it may be able to get refinished without taking out the entire floor.
When you sell your house, you don’t want any evidence of the damage, so the solution that can completely erase the issue is the best one.
Consider the Damage
When it comes to water-damaged hardwood floors, consider the damage you’re working with first before making any decisions. If the damage is mild such as a simple clean-up or removal of a white water stain, you could do a simple repair.
However, if the damage is much more severe, such as buckling of the floor, replacing it will work out better in your favor. As always, [consider] whether you have the skills and knowledge to start a project yourself. If you’re confident in your abilities, then absolutely go for it!
However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so yourself, definitely seek out a professional, even for simple repairs. You don’t want to worsen the problem as this could end up costing you more.
Determine How Long the Floor Has Been Wet
Despite being a good material for home construction, hardwood is porous. It can easily absorb water and moisture and retain them. Hence, water is the biggest enemy of hardwood floors.
If the water has just been sitting on the floor for a few hours, and is less than four gallons, then chances are you can still repair the water-damaged hardwood floor.
However, if you notice cupping or buckling of the floor, then water has seeped into the hardwood so much already, and there’s no way of repairing it. The only choice that you now have is to replace it. Ideally, carpets are placed on top of these hardwood floors to protect them from accidents like these.
Sand If Possible, Otherwise Replace
[Damaged] hardwood floors can be restored to like-new condition by sanding off the damaged wood and refinishing it.
But there are, of course, limits to how far this can be taken, especially because sanding a floor is time and labor-intensive and best done with heavy, expensive machinery.
A good option is to sand down a test patch. Choose the most badly-damaged part of your floor and see how far down you have to sand it. If you’ve taken off several layers and are still encountering warped or scratched wood, it’s probably time to replace the floor.
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