Water Damage to Hardwood Floor: Can You Repair or Should you Replace?

No homeowner wants to hear the two dreaded words: water damage. Usually, those words mean you will most likely have to spend money on replacing or repairing items you were not planning on.  The truth is water is really harmful to any kind of wood flooring, even if it is water-resistant.  If you have a flood due to a broken pipe or toilet back up, any type of flooring will be affected by this quantity of water.  Below we will walk you through what to do when there is water damage to your hardwood floors

How Do You Spot Water Damage to Hardwood Flooring?

Water damage can come in a few different forms. Below are listed some of the most common when it comes to hardwood flooring.

  • Discoloration & Staining:  When water touches wood the wood begins to absorb the water, you will usually find staining or discoloration. 
  • Cupping & Buckling:  If a lot of water is absorbed, then you’ll find that the boards will start to lift up and buckle.  usually, you will see cupping of individual planks, or crowning of several planks, creating a hump in the floor. 
  • Musty or Damp Odor:  When hardwood floors are exposed to water over a period of time and they are not dried correctly, you have a chance that mold growth will occur under and on the boards. Breathing in mold can be very dangerous for anyone, especially those with allergies or asthma.  For this reason, it’s critical to check for mold when your hardwood floor is exposed to water. 
  • Leaks Visible in Ceiling:   For instance, let’s say that your basement living room is situated right below your dining room. The dining room might look (and smell) fine. But you notice water spots or watermarks on the ceiling of the living room. That means a leak could be occurring at the dining room floor level (or just below) that could be putting your floorboards at risk – not to mention creating opportunities for mold spores or mildew to grow.

How Do You Decide to Repair or Replace?

In the event of water damage to your hardwood floor, now comes the time to decide whether to repair or replace.  If the flooring looks like it is damaged beyond the point of return, then it would really save you time and money to replace the whole thing.  If the water damage signs are there, but it isn’t super obvious how bad the damage is,  you should examine the extent of the damage. Your best option for an accurate evaluation of the situation is to call in a certified expert, such as Expert Restoration of Utah, to help with diagnosing and addressing the water damage.  They have moisture readers and infrared cameras to determine the degree of water intrusion and the current presence of water in an area without removing anything.  In some cases, there are scenarios where the certified expert can help you preserve the flooring by using drying pads.  In other cases, it is in your best interest and their recommendation to just tear up the hardwood flooring.  It might be a good precaution to test for the presence of mold too.  

Be sure to test for mold if there are any signs it may be there. Also, look for nails that are sticking out of your floorboards. If your floor is exposed to water you should estimate how long you think the water has been there. If your floor has been exposed to water for a long period of time, then there will most certainly be a lot of water damage. Looking at the damage will help you determine what steps you need to take to fix your hardwood flooring.

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