How To Repair Wood Floor After Water Damage

Water damage and hardwood floors don't get along. If your wood floor gets wet, it might not be the same as before, but don't worry, you can still save it. Here's how to repair wood floor after water damage.

Gather Your Materials

  • Detergent
  • Disinfectant
  • Trisodium Phosphate 

Removing Any Standing Water

The faster you can get rid of the water from your floors, the better. Wood soaks up water quickly but releases it slowly. So, start removing the water with your shop vacuum as soon as you can. Remember, water can get into your wood floors from many places, not just the top layer.

Clean the Surface

Use your shop vacuum on "wet mode" (no bag) to remove as much water as you can from the surface of the flooring. A wide flooring attachment on the vacuum hose can make this easier. A squeegee can also help gather the water as you suck it up.

Scrub the Floor

Mix a mild detergent and a compatible disinfectant (like Mr. Clean) with clean water in a bucket. Scrub the entire floor and all related woodwork (like baseboards, stairs, and newel posts) with a stiff brush. Rinse the brush often in the bucket.

Don't pour the water onto the floor. Scrub well to remove all dirt and organic material, which can cause mold growth.

Treat Moldy Areas

Clean areas that show signs of mold with TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute mixed with water. Scrub the affected areas with the solution until the mold and mold discoloration are gone. Then rinse with clear water, and dry the surface with an absorbent cloth.

Dry the Floor

Dry the floor naturally and slowly with fans and plenty of airflow through the space. Open windows and doors (unless the outdoor air is more humid than the indoor air), and run fans to move air through the space. Be careful not to dry the floor too quickly, as this can cause the wood to crack. Don't apply heat to the hardwood flooring, as this can cause other problems.

Sand the Floor

After drying, you might notice some floorboards are concave or convex (this is called "cupping"). Heavy sanding can help level out minor high areas. However, heavily cupped wood can't be sanded down flat. Some floorboards might lift up completely at the ends. In this case, you can nail the floorboards back down.

Deal With Mold Under Paint

If you have mold growth under paint on a painted floor, you'll need to remove the finish. After scraping off the paint, scrub the wood with an abrasive cleaner, such as Barkeeper's Friend, or use a TSP-water solution with an added cup of ordinary laundry bleach per gallon of water. Dry the floor as described above after cleaning.

Replace Laminate

If you have laminate flooring, it's a bit different. Most of a laminate flooring plank is made with wood pulp, which can get damaged and swell when it gets wet. Most water-damaged laminate flooring will need to be replaced.

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