How To Repair A Water-Damaged Hardwood Floor

If your hardwood floor is water damaged, it needs to be fixed immediately. Water damage develops from liquid spills,damaged water pipes, leaky roofs, or overflows from sinks or tubs. Common signs of a water damaged hardwood floor include cupping, discoloration, separation, and warping. Even a small amount of water may cause mold to grow, which poses a serious health issue. Here are some tips to repair water-damaged hardwood floors.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves 
  • goggles
  • respirator
  • shovel
  • buckets
  • towels
  • tack cloths
  • fans
  • dehumdifiers (optional)
  • mop
  • bleach
  • pry bar
  • painter's tape
  • saw
  • staples
  • staple gun
  • sander and medium-grit sand paper
  • stain
  • polyurethane
  • oxalic acid crystals
  • replacement boards

Open doors and windows to dry the floor. If it is too humid outside, set up exhaust fans instead of opening a window. If the water damage is from major flooding, wear a respirator.

Shovel mud, mop the area using bleach to stop mildew, then let the floor dry. From the basement or a crawl space, check for wet insulation between the floor joists, and remove it. Set up exhaust fans or dehumidifiers in the crawl space or basement.

Remove Water Stains

If the water damage only cause water stains, you should be able to remove them by sanding, after the floor has completely dried. Place painter's tape around undamaged flooring. Sand the top layers of the floor with the sander,and medium-grit sand paper until the finish has been removed.

Clean sand dust with a tack cloth. Mix oxalic crystals with warm water in a bucket, and apply the mixture to the water stain according to directions. Let the mixture set, repeat this step, if necessary. Apply wood stain to match the color of the floor, and polyurethane sealer.

Replace Boards

You will need to replace bucked, warped, or cupped boards.To remove the damaged boards, make two vertical parallel cuts about an inch apart with the saw, and use the pry bar to pull the boards from the floor. If you aren't comfortable with lacing boards, only remove boards all the way to the wall.

Buy replacement boards of the same grade, and if possible, choose a color that closely matches the existing floor. Let the new boards get accustomed to the temperature, so the fit to the existing floor better.

To install the new boards, slide them into the tongue and groove of existing boards, then staple them diagonally. Sand the whole floor until you remove the original finish. Apply a stain to closely match the floor color, let it dry, and add a coat of polyurethane.

You don't always have to replace an entire hardwood floor after water damage. If the floor won't dry after several days,, or it is seriously damaged, hire a contractor to get a replacement.