How to Fix Water Damaged Wood Floor?

May 9, 2024 | Uncategorized

How to Fix Water Damaged Wood Floor

Few things can be as distressing for homeowners as discovering water damage on their cherished wood floors. Whether it’s the result of a leaky pipe, a flooded basement, or an accidental spill that went unnoticed, water damage can wreak havoc on wood flooring, leading to unsightly stains, warping, and even mold growth if left unaddressed. From initial assessment and preparation to the final touches of refinishing, we’ll cover everything you need to know to confidently tackle this daunting task. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or considering hiring a professional, this guide will provide you with the essential information and how to fix water-damaged wood floor and reclaim the beauty and integrity of your home’s flooring.

How to Fix Water-Damaged Wood Floor?

1. Difficulty

Repairing water-damaged wood floors can vary in complexity depending on the extent of the damage and the type of flooring involved. Assessing the severity of the damage, identifying any underlying issues such as mold growth, and determining the best course of action can present challenges. Additionally, the skill level and experience of the individual performing the repairs can influence the difficulty level.

2. Time to Complete

The time required to repair water-damaged wood floors can vary significantly based on factors such as the size of the affected area, the extent of the damage, and the chosen repair methods. Minor repairs may be completed relatively quickly, such as drying out surface water and cleaning the floor. However, more extensive repairs, such as replacing damaged panels or refinishing the entire floor, can take several days or even weeks to complete, especially if multiple layers of treatment are necessary.

3. Cost

The cost of repairing water-damaged wood floors can depend on various factors, including the extent of the damage, the materials needed for repair, and whether professional assistance is required. Minor repairs, such as drying out surface water and cleaning the floor, may incur minimal expenses for materials such as towels, cleaners, and fans. However, more extensive repairs, such as replacing damaged panels or hiring professionals for mold remediation, can significantly increase the overall cost. It’s essential to consider material and labor costs when estimating the expenses of repairing water-damaged wood floors.

Preparing the necessary tools and materials

Before you start restoring your water-damaged wood floors, it’s crucial to gather all the necessary tools and materials. This will ensure that you have everything you need at hand and prevent unnecessary delays during the restoration process.

Here are some essential tools and materials you will need:

  1. Fans or dehumidifiers to aid in drying the floors.
  2. A moisture meter to determine the moisture content of the wood.
  3. Sanding equipment, including a drum sander, an edger, and sandpaper of various grits.
  4. Wood bleach or oxalic acid to remove stains and discoloration.
  5. Wood filler or epoxy to repair any damaged floorboards.
  6. Stain or clear finish to refinish the wood floors.
  7. Protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.

Make sure to purchase high-quality materials and tools to achieve the best results. Investing in good-quality products will not only make the restoration process more efficient but also ensure the longevity of your newly restored wood floors.

Prepping to Repair Water-Damaged Wood Floor

1. Stop the Source

First things first, address the source of the water damage. Turn off any leaky faucets or pipes, and remove any standing water from the floor’s surface.

2. Gather Your Supplies

Assemble the tools and materials listed above.

3. Purchasing New Floor Panels

If the water damage is extensive and individual floorboards are warped or beyond repair, you’ll need to replace them. Here are some tips for selecting new panels:

  • Species: Match the type of wood (oak, maple, etc.) of your existing floor as closely as possible.
  • Thickness: Ensure the new panels have the same thickness as your existing floorboards.
  • Finish: Look for pre-finished panels that closely resemble the stain and sheen of your existing floor.

4. Removing Surface Water

Time is critical! The quicker you remove excess water, the less likely it is that the wood will warp or stain.

  • Use Vacuum: Start by using a wet vacuum or a mop to remove any standing water from the floor. Be careful not to spread the water to unaffected areas.
  • Use fans or dehumidifiers to increase air circulation and speed up the drying process. Position the fans strategically to ensure proper airflow across the entire floor surface.
  • Mops and Towels: Thoroughly mop up any remaining water with clean cloths and towels.
  • Monitor the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter. Continue drying until the moisture content reaches an acceptable level, typically between 6% and 8%.

5. Cleaning the Floor

Once the surface water is gone, it’s crucial to clean the affected area to remove dirt, debris, and any lingering moisture.

  1. Mix a Solution: Combine a bucket of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap.
  2. Mop and Dry: Mop the affected area with the cleaning solution, then follow up with clean water to remove any soap residue. Allow the floor to air dry completely.

6. Mold Treatment (Especially Important if Water Damage Was Extensive)

Mold growth is a serious health hazard and can quickly spread in damp environments. If you suspect mold growth, it’s essential to address it before proceeding with repairs.

  • Identify the Mold: While some molds are harmless, others can cause respiratory problems. If the mold covers a large area (more than a few square feet) or you’re unsure of the type, consider consulting a professional mold remediation company.
  • DIY Mold Removal: For small mold patches, you can try a solution of distilled white vinegar and water (equal parts). Apply the solution to the moldy area with a spray bottle, let it sit for 10 minutes, and scrub with a stiff brush. Ensure proper ventilation while cleaning, and wear gloves and a mask for protection. Important Note: Never mix bleach with vinegar, as it can create toxic fumes.

7. Let the Floors Dry Completely

This is the most crucial step. Wood floors need ample time to dry out thoroughly before you attempt any repairs or refinishing. Moisture trapped beneath the surface can lead to warping, rot, and further mold growth.

  • Air Circulation: Improve air circulation in the affected area by opening windows and using fans.
  • Dehumidifier: Consider using a dehumidifier to expedite the drying process, especially in humid environments.
  • Moisture Meter: Invest in a moisture meter to gauge the wood’s dryness accurately. Generally, the moisture content should be below 12% before proceeding with further work.

8. Sanding the Damaged Floor

Once the wood floors are thoroughly dry, it’s time to address any visible damage, such as cupping, crowning, or surface stains. Sanding the damaged wood will help level the floor surface and remove any superficial imperfections.

Start by using a drum sander to sand the entire floor, working in the direction of the wood grain. Begin with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually switch to finer-grit sandpapers to achieve a smooth finish. Be sure to wear protective gear, including a dust mask, goggles, and gloves, to protect yourself from the dust generated during sanding.

Pay extra attention to the damaged areas, applying more pressure and making additional passes if necessary. This will help level the floor and remove any unevenness caused by water damage. Regularly check the progress and make adjustments as needed until the damaged areas are adequately sanded.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro: Repairing Water-Damaged Wood Floors

So far, we’ve explored the steps involved in repairing water-damaged wood floors. Now it’s decision time: should you tackle this project yourself or call in a professional? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach:

DIY – Doing it Yourself


  • Cost Savings: The most significant advantage of DIY is potentially substantial cost savings. You’ll only pay for the materials needed, avoiding labor charges associated with hiring a professional.
  • Sense of Accomplishment: Successfully restoring your floor yourself can be a rewarding experience, fostering a sense of accomplishment and pride in your handiwork.
  • Control Over the Project: You’ll have complete control over the pace and schedule of the repair process.


  • Expertise Required: Restoring water-damaged floors can be complex, requiring knowledge of proper drying techniques, mold remediation (if necessary), and refinishing processes. Mistakes can be costly, leading to further damage and the need for professional intervention later.
  • Time Commitment: Water damage repair can be time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Be prepared to dedicate significant effort to research, preparation, and the actual repairs.
  • Tool and Equipment Rental: You may need to rent specialized tools like dehumidifiers or sanders, adding to the overall cost. Improper use of equipment can also lead to further damage.
  • Safety Concerns: Mold exposure and working with chemicals during cleaning and refinishing can pose health risks if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.

Hiring a Professional


  • Expertise and Experience: Professionals have the knowledge and experience to assess the damage, recommend the most suitable repair approach, and execute the job efficiently.
  • Quality Workmanship: Pros can deliver high-quality repairs, ensuring a long-lasting and visually appealing restoration.
  • Time Efficiency: They can complete the job quickly and efficiently, minimizing disruption to your daily life.
  • Safety Measures: Professionals are trained and equipped to handle mold remediation and other safety concerns associated with water damage.
  • Insurance and Warranties: Many professional restoration companies offer insurance and warranties on their work, providing you with peace of mind.


  • Cost: Hiring a professional is undoubtedly more expensive than DIY repairs.

The Verdict?

The decision ultimately depends on the severity of the water damage, your DIY experience level, and your budget. For minor water damage with minimal warping or staining, a confident DIYer can likely handle the repairs with proper research and preparation.

However, for extensive water damage, mold growth, or a lack of DIY experience, it’s best to err on the side of caution and hire a professional restoration company. Their expertise, efficiency, and warranties can save you money and heartache in the long run.


For minor water damage, with some DIY skills and the knowledge from this guide on How to Fix Water-Damaged Wood Floor, you might be able to handle the repairs yourself. However, for extensive damage or when unsure about the repairs, seeking professional help is crucial.

Restoring water-damaged wood floors may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and techniques, you can bring back the natural beauty of your floors. Remember to assess the extent of the damage, gather the necessary tools and materials, and follow a systematic step-by-step approach.

By following this step-by-step guide and implementing preventive measures, you can restore your water-damaged wood floors and enjoy their splendor for years to come.

NRG’s restoration experts can assess the situation, recommend the most effective repair solutions, and complete the job efficiently, ensuring a long-lasting, high-quality restoration of your beautiful wood floors.

Don’t let water damage dampen the beauty of your home – take action and bring back the natural elegance of your wood floors today! Contact NRG to schedule a consultation and begin the journey to reclaiming your stunning hardwood floors.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to remove water damaged wood floor?

In some cases, removing water-damaged wood flooring may be necessary, particularly if the damage is extensive or if the wood is severely warped, buckled, or showing signs of mold growth. It’s essential to assess the extent of the damage and consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. In minor cases of water damage, where the wood is only slightly affected and no structural issues are present, repairs may be possible without removing the entire floor.

2. Will the wet wood floor go back to normal on its own?

While wet wood floors may dry out partially on their own, they are unlikely to return to their original state without intervention. Depending on factors such as the type of wood, the duration of exposure to water, and environmental conditions, wet wood floors can warp, buckle, or develop mold if left untreated. Prompt action to remove excess water, thoroughly dry the floors, and address any damage is essential to prevent further deterioration and restore the wood to its pre-damaged condition.

3. Can mold grow under hardwood floors?

Yes, mold can grow under hardwood floors, especially in environments with high humidity levels or if the wood has been exposed to moisture for an extended period. Mold thrives in damp, dark environments and can spread quickly if not addressed promptly. To prevent mold growth under hardwood floors, it’s crucial to maintain proper ventilation, address any sources of moisture or water intrusion promptly, and ensure the floors are adequately sealed and protected against moisture infiltration. Regular inspections and prompt remediation of any water damage can help prevent mold growth and preserve the integrity of hardwood floors.

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