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Beautiful hardwood floors can bring that rustic flourish of style to any room. However, the porous nature of wood makes them prone to water damage. Be it from a leaking sink, an improperly sealed window, or an ill-fitting door frame; water can get into our homes and get to work. Your flooring may start to buckle and cup when excess moisture is absorbed into the wood.

Finding water damage doesn’t mean it’s the end of the flooring. In this post, we’ll be sharing a few tips and tricks to help you deal with water damage. By applying these suggestions, you should be able to bring some elegance back to your gorgeous floors and protect them from future damage.

Signs of Water Damaged Wood Floors

Mold is the biggest giveaway of water damage in hardwood floors.

When wood becomes damp, mold begins to form. It usually presents itself in a dark stain or mark on the surface of the boards. The mold will weaken the boards, leading to a soft, spongy texture. Sometimes, the board will buckle into soft splinters under the strain.

If left untreated, this mold can begin to warp the board itself. Crowning (swelling) may occur in the middle of the board, or cupping (curling) might present around the edges. This can cause floorboards to lift or break away, leaving unsightly gaps or tears.

Another sign is the individual planks cupping or starting to crown, leading to a bump in the floor. Your floor’s wood expands when it absorbs water; this is noticeable when planks start to buckle or when the board’s edges turn up.

How to Deal with Water Damage

If your hardwood floor is a victim of water damage, here are the steps to take:

  1. Find the water source – First off, finding where the water is coming from is critical. Stopping or stemming the flow as soon as possible could mean the difference between a repair and a complete replacement.
  2. Clear the damaged area – Removing any carpets, pet beds, or other items from the area will help prevent further damage. Furniture adds unhelpful weight to damp wood, which further presses the moisture into it. Rugs and carpets will retain the moisture, allowing it more time to seep in.
  3. Dry the area out – Mop and towel up as much of the surface water as possible. It won’t be possible to get a lot of water that has seeped between floorboards. The goal is to mitigate how much more can seep down. If possible, set up dehumidifiers to help draw any moisture back out and prevent damage to other parts of the room.
  4. Check for mold and warping – If the damage has occurred recently, likely, this will not have happened yet. With a dehumidifier running for a few days, nothing should occur, but be sure to check in corners and joints for any signs of blackness. If any of this is found, it’s time to assess the damage.

If the damage only consists of cupped boards, there is a chance you can save the floor. Once they are dry, using a sander can bring down the lifted edges if they aren’t too high. The same steps can be applied to lifted boards. If the wood is still solid, nailing them back in place will repair the damage. This can help even out the boards. Once this has been done to all damaged boards, they will be ready to be revarnished. This will ensure that no boards will need to be replaced.

If the boards are too warped or soft to be refitted, they will have to be removed. Gently pry up any floorboards that are soft, mold-blackened, or have begun lifting. When the damaged area is exposed, the base will need to be examined further for signs of water or mold. If any is found, scrape down the area to remove any surface mold, then clean it with an abrasive cleaner.

Once done, leave the flooring to dry again, preferably with a dehumidifier present. After the base is dried and all remaining floorboards checked for any leftover mold, the new boards can be placed. Sand, varnish, and repaint the finished floor to leave everything as good as new.

Large Scale Flooding

If water damage occurs due to a much larger flood, either from a natural disaster or burst pipe, it would be best to deal with it professionally. Check any insurance documents to see whether water damage is covered. If so, they will likely advise you to reach out to Utah flood restoration specialists to restore the floor.

Ways to Prevent Water Damage

You can also take steps to prevent water damage from occurring in the future. Using the suggestions below, you can keep your wood floors safe and damage-free.

Ensure all Entrances are Sealed

Leakage can occur from any opening in your home, but improper sealing around doors and windows is a key culprit. Ensuring that all openings are correctly sealed will help prevent water from entering your home.

Check all windows, particularly the seals around hinges and latches. Sliding doors can also be an issue, so make sure they fit flush to the wall. Keep the runners clear of debris or breaks may occur.

Regularly Check Plumbing

Any localized flooding can lead to water damage. Primarily, this will occur due to a leak in the plumbing or damage to an appliance. Keeping all sources of water in good condition will prevent them from springing a catastrophic leak. Ensuring all connections are tight and pipes are free of rust will lengthen their working life and spare hardwood flooring.

Keep Floors Clean

Not all water damage is caused by large-scale leakage. Sometimes all it takes is spilling a glass of water or letting a pot boil over or overflowing the sink and then neglecting to dry up the mess. So long as every spillage is cleaned up as soon as it happens, no liquid will have a chance to seep into the wood.


Water damage can happen in several ways. What matters most to homeowners is speed. The sooner water damage is found, the more likely floorboards can be salvaged. If signs begin to appear, act fast.