Repairing Hardwood Floor Water Damage: A Definitive Guide

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

Any kind of flooding in your home takes a toll, but floors are usually the hardest hit. They often sit under inches of water before cleanup can start.

All water-damaged floors should be cleaned and dried immediately, but hardwood floors need special attention.

The right steps can make the difference between saving or losing one of your home’s most valuable assets. Do you know the best techniques for how to repair water damaged wood floors?

We believe in sharing our expertise so that you’re better prepared to handle the unexpected. As Chicago’s leading water damage cleanup company, we offer our industry knowledge to help you save your water-damaged hardwood floors.

Soaked Floors Happen Quickly

While we see our share of storm flooding here in Chicago, most water-damaged floors take a hit from something inside the house.

A broken washing machine or dish washer quickly dumps gallons of soapy water across the floor. The AC’s overflow pan backs up, or the water heater springs a leak.

Take care of small repairs to sinks, disposals, and fire sprinkler systems right away. Show that same care to roof gutters and downspouts too. Your investment in handyman time around the house can keep simple problems from becoming flood cleanup jobs or expensive flooring replacements.

Drying Hardwood Floors: Your Water Damage Guide

Hardwood floors are durable and easy to care for, but they don’t hold up to water. The material is naturally porous, so you have to start the cleaning and drying process as soon as possible.

1. Quickly Secure the Scene

Identify the water source, and make repairs. Move all furniture out of affected rooms to speed up the drying process. If it isn’t too humid or cold outside, open windows and doors to increase fresh air circulation.

2. Wet Vacuum at Least Twice

Extract water from the floor with a large wet vacuum. Slowly go over flooring a second time. The material is porous, so you don’t want to risk a wood floor buckling or warped boards coming loose due to leftover moisture.

3. Carefully Scrub the Floor

Water damage often leaves behind dirt, grease and oily compounds that can ruin a hardwood floor’s finish. Follow up your water extraction work with a good scrubbing. Use a non-sudsy detergent specially formulated to clean and disinfect wood floors.

4. Run Drying Equipment 24/7

Position large fans so that they generate multiple cross currents of fresh air, and run a dehumidifier in the center of the room. It takes at least 24 hours to complete the wet hardwood floor drying process, so be patient. Badly soaked floors might need several days to completely dry out.

5. Check for Moisture and Mold

Check the flooring daily with a moisture meter. Ideally, you want a reading between 8 and 11 percent. Keep a close eye out for any signs of mold or mildew, and scrub any outbreaks with a mixture of baking soda and water.

Power Tip: Be Careful With Laminate Floor Water Damage

Laminate flooring is a manufactured product constructed with a fiber core. The material absorbs water and swells very quickly, so you can’t always save a laminate floor.

If you have to replace warped boards and planks, be sure to completely clean and dry the subflooring. Otherwise, any replacement flooring will continue to absorb moisture.

Let Professionals Do The Hard Work

wet hardwood floor drying
Professional water damage restoration specialists use equipment to extract water from floors.

If you have any second thoughts about DIY hardwood floor cleanup, let a professional restoration company handle the job.

It can be very costly to fix warped wood floors after water damage, so your investment in a restoration specialist can save the expense of replacing your floors.

Homeowner’s insurance covers most water damage, and an experienced restoration contractor helps with the claims process. Certified technicians clean and dry out soaked wood floors, walls, ceilings and furnishings.

It’s often easier to let professionals do the hard work.

We’re Ready for Your Call

We know you take good care of those beautiful hardwood floors. They bring a special warmth to the house and a soft feel underfoot.

Print out our wood floor water damage guide so that you’ll be ready when the unexpected happens. Share it with friends and neighbors, and leave us your feedback through our Comments Section.

We believe in providing the community with good information that can help everyone plan ahead. We’re always here to back you up with expert water damage restoration services.

If you need more information, just give us a call. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba stands 24/7 as the most dependable water damage repair company in Chicago and the suburbs.

We’re always here to help: 773-647-1985

How long does it take for water to damage wood floors?

Hardwood floor water damage isn’t always visible right away. By the time you notice warped floorboards and baseboards, it’s too late to effectively dry the wood without professional restoration techniques. Also, mold begins growing in wet wood floors in just 48 hours.

How do you fix water-damaged hardwood floors?

Once the floor is thoroughly dried, you’re often left with structural problems. Buckled boards, cupped flooring and warped baseboards are just a few examples. Subflooring is usually damaged too. Repairs should be handled by restoration professionals.

How does storm flooding affect hardwood floors?

Storm floodwaters are contaminated with debris and sewage runoff. This type of water damage is extensive. Treating the wood requires specialized cleaning and drying techniques. Not all storm-damaged wood floors can be restored.