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Tackling water damage can be a humongous task. It is quite labor intensive but requires only basic skills.

If you are up to it, you can easily fix damaged wooden flooring with a few supplies and simple instructions.

Tools & Materials required

You would need the following tools and materials before you get started with the restoration job:

Vacuum Sponge Cleaning brush Bucket Cleaning gloves Respirator Shovel Cleaning cloth Detergent Disinfectant Orbital Sander Mineral spirit and varnish

Caution: Handling water damaged flooring may bring you in close contact with mold and fungus spores. Exposure to these contaminants can be hazardous to your health. Always use gloves and respirator for protection.

Step 1: Clear the water

Once you have the materials ready you can get on with the first challenging task - getting the water out. The shop vacuum will come in handy for quick water cleanup. Set it to 'wet' mode and detach the dust bag. Once most of the water is cleared out, you can use a sponge to clean up further.

Step 2: Clean up

Serious flooding may have left the floor covered in mud and muck. You would need to remove all the mud with a shovel. You should also scrub the floor thoroughly with a brush and detergent.

Step 3: Remove mold growth

Some patches on the floor or the walls may show signs of mold growth. It is important to disinfect the patches and clean them thoroughly. Also work on the areas which show discoloration as that is also an indication of mold growth.

Step 4: Dry it out

Open the doors and windows and let the outside air dry out the flooring. In case the weather outside is humid, it will be better to use a heater, a dehumidifier or an air conditioner for drying the area.

It is important to take care that the drying is done slowly and evenly. If you dry the wooden floor too fast, it may crack. Also refrain from applying direct heat or blow drying the flooring as this may cause 'cupping'. Complete drying may take anywhere from a couple of days to a week.

Step 5: Sanding cupped boards

After the area has completely dried out, you may notice that some of the wooden boards have 'cupped' or 'warped'. The boards become curved or swell up. Slight 'cupping' can be corrected by sanding the board until it is even. Make sure that the surface becomes flat. You can use a drum or a random orbital sander to finish the task effectively. You should also finish the sanded boards with mineral spirit and varnish.

Step 6: Remove damaged wooden boards and flooring

It may be that some of the wooden boards have been completely damaged and heavily warped. It may not be possible to mend such boards by sanding, and these will have to be replaced.

Step 7: Replace the boards and insulations.

While you may have to remove the damaged boards, there may be some wooden boards that lift-up from the ends after drying. You will have to nail down these loose boards, and replace the ones that were damaged. Also secure insulation between the joints of the wooden boards to completely seal them.

Closing tips:

  • Before carrying out the restoration work, make sure to check with your insurance agent about the expenses that can get covered under your flood or home insurance. 
  • You can use electronic moisture meters to confirm that the area has completely dried off. 
  • Use masking tape when applying varnish and spirit on wooden boards to mask off surrounding boards.
  • Don't just finish the job superficially. You should closely inspect joints underneath the floor for damage too. If the timber structures holding up the wall are damaged, they would also need replacement.

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