Installation of hardwood floors can truly open up any space. They’re shiny, beautiful and arguably much cleaner and more hygienic than carpet. There can be pitfalls to owning wood, though. Be mindful of potential water damage to your hardwood floor—become familiar with the warning signs and take proactive steps to keeping them smooth and opulent for years.
“Water is a hardwood floor’s worst enemy” remarked Jim Feltz, Woodard Project Manager. Signs of hardwood damage include discoloration, cupping, heaving, warping and separation between boards. If you run your hand across the floor slats and can feel every seam between the boards, you likely have a cupping issue. A rise in elevation from the center of the wood slats signifies warping damage. Take steps early in the life of your floor to stay paces ahead of any long-term damage.
Don’t allow spills or water leaks to pool on your floors. When you see any signs of moisture, grab a clean, dry cloth or mop immediately. Taking action quickly will minimize the impact on your expensive hardwoods. But you’ve got to clean it, right? After all, that’s one of the benefits of having these shiny floors— you can keep them looking beautiful and clean, free of dust, fur balls and bacteria that like to nestle warmly into dark places. Be careful with your cleaning process. Do not soak a mop in cleaning solution (or even water, for that matter) and saturate your floors. Though you want to get your floors really clean, take care to use solutions conservatively.
Watch for moisture or changes to your flooring around the perimeter of your space and keep an eye out for mold in areas that do not receive much light exposure. Mold is damaging to your floors and can affect the air quality of your space. It’s a sign that action should be taken immediately.
A humidistat is more of a long-term preventative solution. When installed on an HVAC system it will help you control the humidity levels of your home or business. Any space that’s floored at least 50% in hardwood should have a humidistat/humidifier system installed. You can install a humidistat on your own or contact an HVAC company for expert consultation. Get familiar with your detector’s manual, and remember that a certain level of humidity is warranted in your space (otherwise you’ll be reading blogs about chapped skin and nose bleeds.) Feltz notes that most wood flooring needs 30-50% relative humidity to maintain the integrity of the boards.
All is not lost once water damage has occurred. Because you’ve installed genuine hardwood, take comfort that your floor can be renewed to its original beauty with just a few steps. First, remove any moisture in the floor (and most importantly, the sub-floor if still present with large fans and dehumidifiers. Point your fans down to the boards while running your air conditioning. If your water damage is on the main floor of a split-level home or on the 2nd floor, make sure to place additional large fans on the level below. Point these units upward to the point of the moisture to dry it from underneath. Your flooring may begin to swell a bit during this process. If you’re able, remove a couple of the damp boards to allow the wood to “give” and allow additional air to get to your subfloor.
If your floor buckled due to water exposure, drying it fully should restore the boards to a flat position. At that point you can fill gaps or nicks and refinish if necessary. Sanders can be rented from any major home supply warehouse, but renter beware! These machines are powerful and can take on a life of their own across your living room. Hold tight, and show that sander who’s boss! After sanding and refinishing, your hardwoods can be as beautiful as the day they were installed.
If you’ve made every attempt to dry your floors and buckling remains, that’s a sure sign that unfortunately water still exists under your floor. In many cases, this means your wood has become detached from the subfloor underneath. Remedying this issue is going to likely require the help of a professional service.
Depending on the professional opinion you receive, there are instances when your floor is damaged to the point that a replacement installation is the best answer. Repairing may ease your troubles in the short-term, but if you have an unidentified leak or other moisture issue, effects to your hardwoods will certainly recur.
We’ll cover more expert information and at-home repair tips for your hardwoods in later posts. Your home is your haven, and we’ll help you keep it looking its best— inside and out, overhead and underfoot.
Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit our contact page, or call 314-227-3938.