The most frequent problems we are called in to address is water harm to hardwood floors. By the time a Chicagoland owner calls us for help, the problem will always be refinishing and usually the replacement of some or all the damaged wood.
Here are several tips and observations on the way to spot, prevent and cut the harm that water may cause to your hardwood floors.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS CHEAPER THAN THE COST OF REPAIRING YOUR WOOD FLOOR.
The first thing to mention is that your wood floor’s polyurethane coating is designed to prevent water and dirt from ever touching the wood. Even though even the most durable polyurethane coatings aren’t waterproof, keeping the protective layer in good condition is the best defense against water damaging your wood floor. As we explain in this wood floor care blog post, a regular cleaning with a proper wood floor cleaner and microfiber mop will assist the polyurethane finish lasts longer and protects the floor against water.
With that being said, water is an insidious enemy of wooden floor and even when the polyurethane is in good condition, a continuous drip of water from an unknown source will discover a path in the woods.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE WATER DAMAGE ON MY WOOD FLOORS?
The damaging effect of water on wood builds with time. By the time you notice a change in your wood floor, the water has already hurt the floor. Among the first signs that water has damaged your floor is cupping of individual planks, or crowning of several planks, creating a hump in the floor.
As the pictures below suggest, once the wood absorbs water, it expands and this expansion reveals itself in the edges of the board turning up, or whole boards deforming. Another sign that water has damaged your floor is black or dark staining along the edges of the board or larger spots on several boards.
This staining is mostly caused by a combination of mold growing, the tannins in the woodturning color as they respond to prolonged contact with minerals in the water, and rust appearing along the edges of the board where nails exist. In each of those instances, a constant source of water is needed to cause the damage.
WHERE DID THE WATER COME FROM?
Before you try to fix the harm, the first question to ask is where did the water come from? , An occasional spill will not cause mold to form or the tannins in the wood to turn color or create a cupped appearance. Persistent humidity with time is required for these problems to manifest themselves.