October 21, 2022

Repair or Replace: Dealing with Hardwood Floors After Natural Disasters

On the onslaught of natural disasters like hurricanes and cyclones, households in the United States incur an annual average of 34 billion dollars in winds and flooding. During these calamities, nothing gets more damaged than your home’s hardwood floors. Despite its durability, hardwood flooring’s real weaknesses are dirt and water, both of which are present in flood waters. Before spending a huge chunk of expenses, check whether they need repairs or replacing and how you can protect them.

Flooded Water: Types and Damages to Hardwood Floor Designs

While flooded water damages most, if not all, parts of hardwood floors, the destruction can also vary depending on the type of flood present and the scale of it in your home. For large-scale flooding, having professional hardwood flooring services soon is the ideal option. However, homeowners can make initial evaluations on their floors while waiting.

Clean flood waters often come from broken pipes and rainstorms, but homes at higher points from flash floods can also experience them. Of all flood waters, they have the least number of contaminants that can result in lesser damage to hardwood floors.

Greywater and blackwater floods are the most common during hurricanes and the most destructive to any hardwood flooring. These waters have a high number of contaminants coming from sewers and other wastes. Moreover, they also contain seawater that can create irreparable damage to wooden floorings.

When these floorings get submerged in the water longer, the hardwood planks can suffer from warping, mold, and breaks.

Warping cases happen when your floors absorb too much water. Once they reach a point, the wooden planks distort and become uneven. They can start buckling in one area, rippling the edges of each plank. Meanwhile, breaks occur when flood water breaks down the glue that attaches to the hardwood from the subfloor.

Dealing with Flood-Damaged Hardwood Floors

Before tearing apart each plank on your hardwood flooring, make sure to assess the damage. Doing so will help you prioritize how to repair and replace your floors. Depending on the severity, you can use different methods of dealing with your damaged floors.

Severely damaged floorings can have varying levels of warping and break in many areas. Often, hardwood planks are better off being replaced by professional hardwood installers. Apart from that, molds make your floors weak and spongy.

However, if the damages are only in certain places in your home, you can repair them by following simple instructions. But before saving your flood-damaged hardwood, ensure that you have these things on hand.

  • Rubber gloves
  • Buckets
  • Vacuum and stiff brushes
  • Wipers and absorbent cloth
  • Cleaning equipment (e.g., disinfectant, mild detergent)

Dehumidifiers are also good additions to help in the floor’s drying process. After these preparations, you can begin repairing and replacing the planks from the severely damaged ones.

Remove All Items in the Room

Always ensure that all soaked items in the room are out to dry. Wet furniture and other items can affect your newly repaired floors once you bring them back. Doing so can also help drain the water from the damaged area.

Start Extracting Flood Water from the Room

Check the room and the surrounding area to ensure all water sources are closed. With the help of your vacuum, suck out all the water from the hardwood flooring’s surface. Using a squeegee in hard-to-reach places can all help in gathering the flood water.

Clean Off Dirty Remnants of Flood Water

Once you extract all the water in the room, start cleaning off the dirt from the flood water. Using your detergent and disinfectants, give every crook and cranny a good scrub. It will clean away all the contaminants brought by the flood and help you find and treat moldy areas quickly. Avoid using any bleach as it will further damage the hardwood floors.

Dry the Floors

Keep in mind to get as much water out of the floorboards. While it’s impossible to take all the floodwater underneath the floor surface, lessening it is the goal. Open all windows and doors to dry out your hardwood floors. You can set up dehumidifiers to help dry the room if they’re available. The process can take days, and it’s better not to rush it.

Repair Stains and Replace Warped Planks

Warping, molding, and breaks often happen a few days after drying your floors. Make regular checks to see if any corners or joints turn black.

Cupped floorboards are repairable and won’t be as costly. When the hardwood dries completely, use a sander to even out the floor planks. If all the hardwood planks are solid, you can nail them back in place and revarnish them.

But if the boards are warped or too soft, pry them out and examine the exposed damaged area. When you find mold or water, scrape it or clean it using an abrasive cleaner. Leave your hardwood flooring to dry out before replacing them with new boards.

Once you install the replacement floorboards, you can proceed with sanding, varnishing, or repainting them. Depending on your hardwood floor design, the process can be tedious and costly.

Replacing or Repairing: Fixing Flood-Damaged Hardwood Floors

With thousands of dollars in damage costs, dealing with expensive hardwood flooring after hurricane-related flooding is a headache. Despite that, figuring out if they need replacing or repairs can change how much you need to spend. While having professional hardwood services is highly recommended, there are instances where you need to deal with them fast. Instead of waiting around, assessing your floor's damages and repairing them will help decrease losses and breaks.

For more information on hardwood flooring, contact Kelly Hardwood Floors!