The floor in a home is often the first casualty of indoor water damage. After all, water naturally flows downward and usually ends up pooling on the floor surface and infiltrating beneath, as well. If that water isn’t removed in a very short time frame, damage to flooring is likely. The extent of damage and the likelihood of repairing the floor depends on the length of time it was exposed to water and, even more importantly, the type of flooring involved.
Do-it-yourself approaches to saving a floor seriously affected by water damage are limited. The most important DIY step is to remove standing water and begin the drying process, ASAP.
- Use a floor squeegee, sponge mops, or even brooms to push as much water as possible out the nearest exterior door. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, utilize it to remove pooling water fast, but take care using electrical devices in a wet environment.
- Direct fans to blow air across the surface of the floor after pooling water is removed. This may reduce water infiltration beneath the surface. Also, open windows to release humidity from the room.
Here’s how different types of flooring are affected by water damage.
- Vinyl tiles are more water-resistant than other flooring. However, prolonged exposure may seep beneath tiles, causing the glue to release. Wet subfloors beneath vinyl also do not dry quickly and may be subject to rot and mold growth. Sections of tile may have to be removed, the subfloor dried, and new tiles laid.
- Laminate wood flooring consists of a thin top layer of wood with thicker pressed particle board beneath. Particle board readily absorbs water and disintegrates, therefore soaked laminate flooring is frequently ruined beyond repair.
- Natural hardwood floors absorb water during prolonged exposure. This can cause swelling, cupping, and buckling of wooden planks. Discoloration may also occur. Prompt action by water damage professionals with powerful water extractors, air movers, and dehumidifiers may mitigate hardwood damage. If recovery work is timely and successful, after drying hardwood floors, they may be sanded and refinished to restore a flat surface and natural coloration.