Can Water Damage Wood Floor? The Ultimate Guide On What To Do

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Cleaning up a big water overflow, spill, or flood is so stressful and worrying! If the water affects your nice hardwood floor, it’s especially stressful. We bet right now you’re wondering: can water damage a wooden floor? How bad can it be? Can you fix it yourself?

In this article, the experts at Cleaner Guys use their combined 50+ years of experience in water damage restoration to answer all these questions and more.

Table of Contents

What Happens if Water Gets on Wood Floor?

If water gets on a wood floor, and is not cleaned up promptly, the water will be absorbed by the wood. When wood absorbs a large amount of water, it swells, which usually causes the floor to warp or break. It can also leave water staining, which looks bad, and cause mold, which can cause perpetual sickness! Water-damaged flooring can also pose a physical risk to you and anyone who lives with you.

Not long ago, here at Cleaner Guys, we got a new client who had had a small water leak dripping on his kitchen floor for a long time. The wood swelled and softened over time, until one day, our client’s dog jumped on the water-damaged flooring. It broke under his feet! When our client called us, there was cold air blowing into his home from the crawlspace. All that happened because he didn’t take care of his water-damaged wood flooring soon enough.

As you can see, all this can be true for any amount of water. However, larger water problems will usually require more serious intervention.

Water Damage Too Large for You to Fix Alone

If you spill a glass of water on your hardwood flooring, it’s probably not enough water to do any serious damage. You should still mop it up as quickly as possible, though.

However, water from a large-scale water disaster on wood flooring requires a completely different level of urgency and action. Large-scale water disasters include:

  • A burst pipe spraying water everywhere,
  • An overflowing toilet, sink, or bathtub,
  • A broken and leaking water line to a refrigerator or washing machine,
  • A broken or leaking water heater,
  • A natural flood,
  • Or any other kind of water disaster that leaves standing water covering your wood flooring.

In the event of most of these kinds of water on your floor, you should immediately call a plumber and a water damage mitigation company. More details on that in a later section.

How Can You Tell if Wood Floor is Water Damaged?

A few things can happen to wood flooring when it absorbs water. Luckily, they are all visible ways that you can recognize flooring that has been damaged by water. The first is called cupping. Cupping is what happens in some wood flooring when the edges of each wood plank curve upward, causing bowing in the middle of each plank. It causes the flooring to look disjointed and ugly, and will need to be fixed.

Image courtesy of Ozburn-Hessey Company

Another visible sign of water-damaged wood flooring can sometimes be the opposite of cupping: bowing, or crowning. This is when the swelling due to water causes the flooring to warp upward in the middle, as seen below. Bowing is also unsightly and unsafe, and should be fixed immediately.

Image courtesy of iStock and DavorLovincic

Newer laminate wood flooring may bubble if damaged by water, as pictured below. This is a clear indication that the flooring has been damaged by water. You need to call a water damage mitigation company to deal with the fallout (more on that in a later section).

Image courtesy of iStock and Petra Richli

Last but not least, a final major visible sign that water damaged your flooring is staining. It cannot get more obvious than this. If your wood floor is stained like the picture below, you need to call a water damage mitigation company immediately.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock and Mr. Thanathip Phatraiwat

How Long Does It Take Water to Damage Wood Floor?

Water can soak into hardwood flooring and damage it within an hour if not attended to immediately. The longer any amount of water sits on wood floor, the worse the damage will be. If the water is a small spill, as described in the section above, you may be able to successfully dry out the slight water damage on your own (more on that in a later section). However, if the water disaster is very large in size, we virtually guarantee you’ll need a water damage mitigation company to replace that flooring.

Will Wet Wood Floor Go Back to Normal?

No, in most cases, water-damaged wood flooring will not just “go back to normal”. As a professional water damage mitigation company, we regularly deal with multi-thousand-dollar water damage repair projects. They almost always only got that bad because the owner hoped that the water in the floor would just go away. It will not. In fact, the longer you leave it, the more money you’ll have to pay to fix it. We see it all the time.

How Do You Fix Water-Damaged Wood Floor

If the water on your wood floor is extremely minor, such as a spilled glass of water, you should be able to fix it yourself if you act quickly. First, up all the water with towels. Then, if you have access to a water vacuum, run that over the affected area as well. Lastly, dry out the area for at least an hour with a fan or a hair dryer. Air movement from one of these instruments will help evaporate any remaining water.

However, if the water disaster is larger than a spill, including any one of the water disasters listed in the section above, you must call a professional water damage restoration company like CG Restoration immediately. When a large-scale water catastrophe occurs, only professional, commercial-grade, specialty equipment will fix it.

Who Fixes Water Damage in Wood Floors?

A professional water damage mitigation and restoration company is required to fix large-scale water damage to hardwood floors. The technicians of a good restoration company will have taken extensive training courses on dealing with water damage effectively and efficiently. They also have access to equipment you do not, that specializes in fixing this kind of damage.

One such piece of equipment that we love here at Cleaner Guys is the InjectiDry HP-PLUS Drying System (pictured below on a CG jobsite). It dries out the underside of intact wooden flooring, a procedure which often saves the original flooring — no replacement required!

This one piece of equipment is just one example of what a professional water damage company has that a layperson cannot safely or effectively replicate on their own.

Photo of an Injectidry system on an actual Cleaner Guys jobsite.

Can Mold Grow Under Hardwood Floor?

Yes, mold can absolutely grow under hardwood floors once they’ve suffered water damage. In fact, it’s very difficult to prevent it from doing so (which is why a professional water damage and mold company is required). Mold will grow wherever it finds moisture, organic material to feed on, and ambient temperatures. And if mold begins to grow under your flooring, it can cause mold sickness, structural instability, and more!

Click here for essential information on how to spot signs of mold sickness in yourself or your loved ones.

How Long Does it Take to Fix Water-Damaged Wood Floor?

The amount of time it will take to fix a water-damaged floor depends entirely on the amount of water, the area of flooring it affected, how deep the water damage went, and how long it was left. Therefore, we highly recommend getting quotes from several different restoration companies. Ask each how long they estimate your restoration job will take.

If you live north of Seattle in Western Washington State, contacting Cleaner Guys is a great place to start! Call us today at (360)757-4300. We encourage you to seek estimates from several different companies, but in most cases, we can guarantee the best prices and the best quality workmanship here at Cleaner Guys.

Click here to contact Cleaner Guys about taking care of your water damage, if you live north of Seattle.

Water Damaged Wood Floor Repair Cost

The cost of mitigating and fully restoring wooden flooring from water damage also depends almost entirely on the scope of the individual incident. As mentioned previously, we recommend contacting multiple restoration companies to get a range of estimates on what you can expect to pay to fix the damage.

However, in our experience, the average-size water damage repair job on hardwood flooring will be priced in the thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you wish to replace the flooring with more real hardwood flooring. This option is significantly more expensive than engineered wood flooring, AKA laminate wood flooring.

In the case of sudden and accidental water damage, your insurance company may cover some or all of the repair costs. This is only a general rule that we have seen apply to our jobs at Cleaner Guys. You should contact your insurance company and ask if they will cover the cost of repairing your water damage.

Should Subfloor Be Replaced After Water Damage?

This depends on how deep the water managed to soak through your wood flooring. In many of the water damage restoration jobs we’ve done, the owner acted immediately to call us in, and the water never soaked all the way through to the subfloor! However, if the flooding is catastrophic enough, or if you don’t act fast enough to call a restoration company, the water may well soak through to the subfloor. In that case, the subfloor will indeed need to be removed and replaced.

Preventing Future Wood Floor Water Damage

Unfortunately, you cannot 100% prevent water damage from ever happening to you again. However, there are some things you can do that will help make it far less likely, and much less catastrophic if it ever does happen again.

The first and most important thing you can do is winterize your home. Click here to learn more about winterizing. Our busiest time of the year as a water damage restoration company is in the winter. Pipes freeze and water heaters malfunction the most in the winter, and if you haven’t gotten them checked and winterized, you’re highly likely to eventually suffer a water disaster. Annual inspections and winterizing cost a few hundred dollars… but water damage repair usually costs thousands.

The second thing you can do to help prevent another catastrophic and expensive water damage repair is to switch out your hardwood flooring for engineered wood flooring. We know you probably like your hardwood floor a lot, but it’s not just expensive to maintain; it’s even more expensive to replace! Engineered wood flooring provides the same look and feel as hardwood, but at a fraction of the cost. This is true both for installation and replacement! We here at Cleaner Guys use and love Coretec flooring, because it’s water resistant. That’s not a paid promotion; we just love their product.

Who to Call for Water Damage in Wooden Floor

As mentioned previously, when you have water damage in your floor, you need to call a professional water damage restoration company to fix it. And, if the water came from plumbing, first call a plumber.

If you’re unsure how to go about going through all the restoration service companies and choosing a trustworthy one, read this article that walks you through it.

More Resources

If your water damage also affected your walls, read this ultimate guide for everything you need to know ➔

For water damage that also affected your ceiling, read this guide to know what to do next ➔

Found mold from your water damage, and don’t know what to do with it? Click here ➔

If you or a loved one touched mold from your water disaster, read this to find out whether it’s dangerous ➔

In Western Washington State

If you live north of Seattle, consider Cleaner Guys a wise choice for your water damage restoration company! We’ve risen to be one of the most popular and well-loved in the area. This is because of our award-winning customer service and our commitment to better prices than the other companies. It’s also because of our high standards for quality work and professionalism.

If you need water damage restoration in Mount Vernon WA, give us a call today!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Melanie Ortegon

      We’re glad you’ve found our professional knowledge and advice useful!

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