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Can I Dry My Hardwood Floor After Water Damage?

This is a very common question we receive at Flood Masters. The amount of homes with hardwood floors is steadily increasing for many reasons, the most prominent being that hardwood floors not only tend to sell homes faster, but they also increase the price. The only downfall is that in the event of a flood or water overflow, hardwood floors cannot be easily taken out and dried like carpet can. This brings us to our question – Can hardwood floors be dried in place, or does everything need to be ripped out and replaced?

First, you need to recognize the many different factors that play into properly drying a hardwood floor. Water damage can increase drastically if not taken care of properly, professionally, and in a timely manner. Here are some of the main considerations you should make when considering calling a water damage restoration company for your hardwood floor.

Response Time

Water damage can be greatly decreased depending on the response time to the problem. According to the EPA, mold can grow in a little as 48 – 72 hours on almost all household material if they have a moisture level of 16% or higher. Time is of the essence when it comes to hardwood floor water damage – the moisture, temperature, and dust layer beneath a wet wood floor can provide an ideal environment for mold and many other problems.

Type Of Wood

Before you can determine how to properly take care of your wet hardwood floor, you need to determine what type of wood flooring you have. The main types of hardwood floors are:

  • Strip Wood Flooring
  • Plank Wood Flooring
  • Engineered Wood Flooring
  • Laminate Wood Flooring: Laminate wood flooring has become very common among California homes. Please note that laminate floors are NOT considered wood or hardwood flooring. This type of flooring is most often replaced in the event of a flood and is hard to salvage because they have a low tolerance for moisture.

Amount Of Moisture

Moisture affects all floor types differently. “Normal” moisture content for wood floor can fluctuate between 6% and 12%. A flooded hardwood floor can have up to 40% moisture content and can retain well above the normal amount of moisture for weeks if left to dry on it’s own. Nails may begin to lift, glue may release causing separation between floor pieces, and tongue and groove floors often cup or buckle when moisture has been absorbed.

Degree Of Water Damage Already Present

After severe water damage, it is likely that wood floors will have to be replaced. Wood is specifically susceptible to mold growth, so it is important that you ensure that the floor and the sub-floor are completely dry. If floors have cupped, popped, or cracked, it may be an indication that the sub-floor has experienced water damage as well. If this has occurred, it will also need to be replaced before installing new hardwood flooring.

If you decide to dry the floor in place, Flood Masters has sophisticated drying equipment that forces airflow beneath the surface of the floor, allowing moisture to be released. Keep in mind that this can be a slow process and take up to seven days. A restoration specialist can thoroughly inspect damage to determine the right plan of action for your home. They will work with you and your insurance company to decide the best option – drying or replacing the floor. The experts at Flood Masters have saved hundred of hardwood floors by using advanced drying equipment and over 20 years experience. We’re here to help, so give as a call.