Water damaged flooring

Of course in any case of water damage, your flooring is going to bear the brunt of it.   In most cases, proper repair and cleaning of the floor can be the most crucial step in the water restoration process.  And as with any step, it must be done right the first time in order to avoid future problems.

Cupping and crowning water damaged hardwood

Water effects on water damaged hardwood floors

Water damaged hardwood flooring – this type of floor runs the risk of severe damage due to swelling and buckling (cupping) unless proper restoration techniques are employed.  Wood flooring expands and contracts as it’s moisture content varies. Air forced through the underside of the boards can be most beneficial when it comes to making sure the flooring is thoroughly dried.

Some times people think that just focusing on the top part of the wood flooring will do the trick without taking readings further down into the water damage wood floor. Even if the top layer does dry and the floor is sanded down to remove the cupping effect, it can buckle or cup again due to the moisture in the lower sections. For this reason a professional is preferred to ensure complete drying of the floor. A professional mitigation company will also know that once a solid wood floor is dry it may still be cupped, but in most cases will return to a flat state over the following few months. For this reason it’s best to hold off on sanding and finishing the floor otherwise the reverse can happen and you could end up with crowning (the opposite of cupping). If the cupping doesn’t return to a flat state after a few months then you can sand the floor and refinish it safely.

An expert water technician will determine a drying goal before attempting restoration. This drying goal is based on the dry standard for that type of wood which is usually taken from an unaffected piece of flooring with a moisture meter. The idea is to get the moisture content of the affected wood floor to be within 2-4% of the dry standard once the process is done.

Water technician installing wood floor drying equipment photo

Wood floor drying equipment installed by a technician

Water damaged laminate flooring – is made up of layers of resin, photographic paper on top and fiberboard bonded together with pressure and heat. It’s usually the fiberboard’s water absorbing nature that creates the need to replace this flooring material rather than trying to save it. Another factor contributing to replacing it rather than saving it is the material underneath the laminate flooring. Usually this is a type of cushion material such as particle wood or a plastic over concrete – either one of these will trap water and prevent efficient drying.

Water damaged tile flooring – of course tiles are going to be the single most water resistant flooring material, which helps cut down on the damage, and if properly installed, you won’t have to worry about water getting underneath and ruining other areas of your structure.  To clean tiles, simply wash and scrub the flooring.  Pay attention to the grout joints which will be the most porous section of the flooring. If you suspect that there may be problems below, then call a professional company to confirm your suspicions by means of a moisture meter.  Infrared inspections may also reveal whether or not there is additional damage that may have been overlooked. If there is water trapped beneath the tiles then the decision needs to be made whether to dry it out from below (if possible) or from above by removing the tiles.

Water damaged linoleum and vinyl flooring – Here you have a much higher chance of the water getting under the floor and developing into new problems, as both linoleum and vinyl are able to trap water in sub flooring.  The floor will have to be taken up in order to allow the subsection to dry thoroughly.  Of course, hiring a restoration company is preferred as they have the equipment and techniques at their disposal to properly dry out the flooring with minimal disruption.  It also allows you to salvage as much sub flooring material as possible.

There are many other types of flooring not discussed in this article, each of which has their own set of complex issues. A professional water restoration company will understand each and every type of flooring material as well as it’s tendencies to either dry out effective or not (necessitating the need for removal and replacement). It’s always best to consult with an expert before trying to dry a floor out yourself.

As always, do not neglect the sub flooring.  Laying your floor back down over a damp or wet sub floor will only create more problems.  Make sure the sub floor is completely dried out and properly cleaned before anything is re-installed.

If all this sounds like more than you feel you can take on, it is.  That’s why your local Clean Trust certified water damage restoration professionals are available 24/7 to handle all of your water damage restoration needs.  Same day service is available in most cases, so call today.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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One Response to Water damaged flooring

  1. Mold Testing Nebraska says:

    Water damage ruins a lot of wood flooring. It’s important to quickly dry the wood floor to prevent damage and mold growth beneath the wood planks.

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