Wood floors look great and add sophistication and style to any room in a home. While wood floors are relatively durable, water can damage them. If your wood floors have water damage, this information can help you address the problem.
Floor Water Damage:
If you notice water damage on your floor, the first step is to find the source and stop additional water from flowing to the floor. The next step is to remove the water as soon as possible, followed by removing furniture and extra weight. Give the floor time to dry. If parts of your floor are severely damaged, it may be necessary to replace those areas.
In this article, I will further explain how to spot water damage on your floor. Sometimes it is clearly visible, but in some situations, it is harder to spot. If the water has been removed, I will show how to prevent damaged floorboards and swelling. And in the case of watermarks, I will show how to hide the water damage.
- 1 What Does Water Damage on Wood Floors Look Like?
- 2 Can Water Damaged Wood Floors Be Refinished?
- 3 How To Prevent Water Damaged Floorboards
- 4 How To Prevent Wood Floor Swelling from Water
- 5 What Happens If Water Stays on Wood Floor?
- 6 How to Hide Water Damage on Wood Floors?
- 7 What Happens If Water Gets Under Linoleum?
Water can cause different types of damage to wood floors. The longer water sits on a floor, the worse the damage will be. If you think your wood floors may have water damage, look for some of these signs.
Cupping occurs when the outside edges of the wood flooring rise higher than the centers. This can happen even if you don’t see standing water on the floor. If there is too much moisture in a room, it can cause the wood to swell and push the boards together. The pressure between the boards causes the sides to warp and become damaged.
Crowing happens when the center of the wooden boards lifts up, and the edges pull down. The wood floors may appear as arches or humps throughout the room. This occurs when there is too much moisture on the surface of the wood and not as much on the bottom. Wood absorbs excess moisture and swells. Crowning occurs more often in the summer when there is more humidity.
When water sits on a wooden floor too long, it can start to stain the boards. Staining can appear as a white or dark color and is a sign that the floor’s finish is damaged. White stains are easier to remove and are usually a sign that the damage is only on the surface of the wood. Black stains are a sign that the water has penetrated deeper into the wood and that the damage is more severe.
Floors that buckle can have wooden boards sticking up from the floor or pulled up in the corners. Buckling usually occurs after a flood and is considered a sign of severe water damage. It may affect a small area or the entire floor. If your wood floors are buckling, there is a good chance the subfloor is damaged as well.
Water-damaged wood floors can and should be refinished. I recommend repairing or replacing the damaged part of the floor and then refinishing the entire floor. This will ensure that the subflooring and bottom of the floor are structurally sound and the surface is well-blended and has the same finish. Even if you don’t have to replace or repair the entire floor, you should still consider refinishing it all.
While most water damage occurs due to accidents or unexpected flooding, there are things you can do to prevent your floorboards from being damaged by water.
Never leave water standing on a floor. Even small spills such as a tipped-over drink can damage the floor. The water can run down into the floorboards and cause the wood or the subfloor to swell. Cleaning up the spills immediately will remove the liquid before it has a chance to seep deeper into the floor.
Even small drips and leaks that go unnoticed or unrepaired can lead to severe water damage. A continuous drip can spread to large areas of the floor and cause damage. By checking your sinks, faucet, toilets, and appliances often, you can identify leaks before they become severe and have a chance to damage your flooring.
Water can easily get inside your home if your windows and doors are not correctly sealed. You may not always notice water leaking in, but it could be running behind the walls and into your floor. Check your windows and doors to make sure they are sealed, and no water can get inside and ruin your flooring.
● Check the Roof for Leaks
When your roof is leaking, water may find its way to your floor. If the leak is larger, you probably will see spots on the wall, closer to the roof. But when the leak is smaller, the water can also find a way through the wall and will only be visible when it can’t go further at floor level.
If your floors do get wet, you may be able to clean up the water before the wood starts to swell. The amount of water and the length of time it has been standing on the wood will determine if you can save your floors and what you should do.
The faster you remove the water from the floor, the less likely it will be to swell. Depending on the amount of water on the floor, you may be able to clean it up with a mop, towels, or a sump pump.
The more weight on the floor, the more the water will soak into it and flow towards specific areas. If you notice there is water on your floor, remove any furniture in the room immediately. This will also make it easier to remove the moisture and dry the floors.
● Dry The Floors
It’s not enough to remove the water from the floor. You also have to dry the floors before they swell. The water will likely have soaked into the floor before you can get it cleaned up thoroughly. Drying the floor will pull the water out of it before it causes the wood to swell. You should ventilate the room, bring in fans or even commercial drying equipment to try to dry the floors as quickly as possible.
It’s never a good idea to allow water to stay on your floor. Removing it as soon as you notice it will help you avoid severe water damage. Many different things can happen if water is allowed to stay on the floor.
The most common type of water damage I see on floors is surface damage. This damage reaches the top layers of the floor and may not be deep into the wood. It can include staining, swelling, and even lifting or cupping boards.
Some people may not consider mold growth a type of damage, but if it occurs, it will need to be removed and could result in flooring and even subflooring replacement. Mold can grow due to too much moisture in a home. This could be due to water standing on a floor or just excess moisture due to humidity. If the mold growth is too severe, you may need to hire a professional mold remediation crew to remove the mold before you can repair the flooring safely.
If the water has been on the floor for an extended period of time, it can cause damage to the subfloor. This is a more severe type of damage and requires total replacements. If there is subfloor damage, there is likely noticeable surface damage as well, but this is not always the case. I have seen many situations where the water started beneath the subfloor and worked its way up to the surface.
The worst-case scenario of water damage is structural damage. This often occurs with significant flooding or severe leaks where the water has been left standing for a long time. Structural damage means the water has affected the foundation of the home and the frame of the floor and walls. Damage to the structure of your home could be costly and difficult to repair.
How to Hide Water Damage on Wood Floors?
While you may be tempted to hide your water-damaged wood floors, it’s not a good idea from a professional standpoint. I’ve always found that it’s best to repair any water damage as soon as you find it. This will prevent the possibility of more severe damage and could reduce the amount of time and money spent on the repairs.
I suggest only hiding the cosmetic aspects of damaged floors. Make sure any structural damage has been repaired to avoid safety issues and further damage. If you want to hide your water-damaged floors until you can replace or repair them, there are a few simple ways you can do so.
● Hide water damage with Rugs
You can use large or small area rugs to cover up the damaged areas of the flooring.
● Hide water damage with Furniture
You may be able to move your furniture around to hide the parts of the flooring that are damaged.
● Hide water damage with Artificial Plants
Use tall or wide artificial plants to hide the damaged flooring areas. You can also use live plants, but it may not be a good idea to risk more water damage since they need water to grow.
What Happens If Water Gets Under Linoleum?
Wood floors are not the only type of flooring that suffer from water damage. Linoleum may have a water-repellent surface, but that doesn’t mean standing water can’t damage it. Water may find its way underneath linoleum floors, where it can soften and damage the subfloor and break down the adhesive that holds it in place. This can cause the edges of the linoleum to lift and peel back or bubble up.
Similar to most other floor types, you should find the source of the water and stop. If the water flow is stopped, dry the linoleum. If it is loose on the floor, you can try to lift parts to make drying easier. Ensure that the moisture under the linoleum can evaporate. This can take much longer than you think.