Hardwood flooring is a beautiful, modern flooring option that almost all home owners prefer. Unfortunately, these floors are also vulnerable to water damage. In order to keep your flooring in top condition, to protect your investment and home value, you need to prevent water damage to your hardwood floors actively.
If you do get water damage, you may be able to repair instead of replacing your floor if you act quickly to reduce the damage. We’ll explain how to prevent and repair water damage on your hardwood floor in this guide.
Causes of Hardwood Floor Water Damage
In order to prevent water damage on hardwood floors, you need to know what can cause the damage. Here’s what can cause hardwood floor water damage:
- Leaky roof spilling onto the floor
- Plumbing leaks beneath the floor or spilling onto the floor
- High humidity in the home
- Spills that aren’t cleaned immediately
- Tracking rain or snow into your home
- Tracking swimming pool water into the home
- Dog drool and splashes from pet water bowls
Any source of water can damage your floor. If you notice you’ve gotten water on your floor, you should seek to clean it immediately and thoroughly. Otherwise, the hardwood will absorb the water through small pores in the wood. Then you may notice it warping, buckling, or discoloring.
How to Prevent Hardwood Floor Water Damage
There are many ways to protect your floor based on what kinds of water you’re most likely to expose it to. Although, in all cases, removing the water as fast as possible after exposure is the most important factor to prevent damage.
Protect Your Hardwood Floor From Spills
Take precautions to protect your floor from typical sources of water like a splash from the kitchen sink or wet boots coming in from the outdoors by placing absorbent mats where water is an issue. Your front door and the spot beneath the kitchen sink are both smart places to put a mat. Use a silicone mat, or a silicone backed mat, to prevent soaking through.
Also, consider placing towels down temporarily when you expect water from a pool party, rain, or another temporary source of water. Just be sure that your towels don’t soak through. If they do, remove and replace them quickly.
When you’re having a party, have paper towels on hand where guests can see them, so they clean up their own spills. You may also consider serving drinks in a room with a rug, so long as your rug is easier to clean off than the floors.
What about children? If you have a toddler or children who frequently spill, it might be wiser to have them eat away from the hardwood, if possible. If not, have paper towels on hand for them and impress upon them the importance of letting you know about spills.
Pets produce their own kind of spills, especially dogs. After a walk on a hot summer day, your dog will come home panting, spraying his or her saliva on the floor. When dogs drink they also splash water around. Always serve your pup his or her water under a mat or even a temporary towel. Also, when your dog comes in from exercise, keep them off the hardwood floors until they have recovered from the heat.
Protect Your Hardwood Floor From Leaks & Humidity
If you’ve had a large leak, spill, or humid conditions, you can prevent water damage to your hardwood flooring by using an industrial dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture before it can absorb into the wood.
Key to protecting your floor is noticing plumbing leaks and roof leaks before they can cause damage. For roof issues, get a regular roof inspection to ensure your roof is in proper condition. Also, watch the ceiling for signs of water damage.
For plumbing issues, watch out for the signs of water damage on your walls and floors. Take note of any unusual behavior from your faucets, like low or high water pressure. Also, keep an eye on your water bill. An unusually high bill is one sign of a hidden plumbing leak, which, if otherwise left unchecked, can end up doing a lot of damage to your floors.
If you have consistently high humidity levels, getting a long-term fix might be useful to prevent the slow, but deep damage to your hardwood flooring.
How to Repair Hardwood Floor Water Damage
You can repair several different types of water damage on your hardwood floor.
How to Repair Water Stains
If the water stains are white spots on your flooring, they are simple to remove. Use your floor’s polish and rub the stain away gently with a soft cotton cloth.
Blackwater stains are much harder to remove. You will need to sand off the stain with first a low-grade sandpaper and then a high-grade sandpaper. Then you’ll need to use oxalic acid, which is bleach for wood, to attempt to lighten what remains of the stain. Using this method you may still end up with a discolored spot on your hardwood flooring. If it’s too unsightly, you can replace that section of flooring.
How to Repair Warped Hardwood Boards
You can sometimes repair slightly warped boards by flattening them with a heavy object. You can place a dresser or another heavy piece of furniture on the spot for a few days to see if you can flatten it back down.
For boards that don’t get in line after being pressed back down, you can nail them down, and cover the nail head with a wood filler that matches your flooring. Keep an eye on the board though. Some boards are so badly bent that they pop the nail out of place and return to their warped position. If so, there’s nothing to do but replace the board.
Work With a Restoration Company
There’s some water damage you don’t want to attempt to fix yourself. If you have significant damage, or if you have a particularly valuable hardwood floor, it’s wise to work with a professional to get it repaired. A restoration company can help you replace boards that are perfectly matched with your existing floor. They can also help you address any sources of water damage to prevent more water damage to your hardwood flooring.