| Water and wood really don’t get along very well. And while it doesn’t happen too often, they sometime meet rather unexpectedly. This meeting is rarely good news, but it doesn’t have to be disastrous either.
Hardwood floors can be beautiful, durable and long lived. They are comprised of a layer of hardwood set atop a sub-floor and held in place in various ways. The best part of these floors is that they have a strong polyurethane coating that protects them from damage under most circumstances. However, despite being strong, long lasting and able to resist moisture from entering the wood itself, no flooring material is immortal.
Over time, hardwood and other polyurethane-coated flooring materials can suffer damage and wear from normal family foot traffic, furniture movement, cleats on athletic shoes and stiletto heels, occasional spills and more. The downside of this normal wear and tear is that unless it is corrected before the surface layer disappears in places, moisture can be absorbed into the wood itself. Depending upon just how much moisture has penetrated the hardwood itself, this can be a major repair problem.
The amount of moisture any piece of wood can soak up and how quickly it absorbs moisture depends on many different factors. These include the species (type) of wood; how old the wood is; if any oil or resin is present; what earlier water damage has there been; how it will be dried; and just how much moisture has been absorbed.
If the wood hasn’t been too badly damaged due to the worn out surface coating, the fix is generally as simple as inexpensive hardwood refinishing where the remains of the damaged coating is removed and a new coating is applied. If the wood isn’t overly moist, it can be dried out with various techniques before the new coating is applied. However, if the wood has absorbed a significant amount of water and has swollen or buckled in places, those places will have to be removed and replaced with new wood and then recoated.
In the most serious cases, such as a flood where the wood sat under water for an extensive amount of time, the only fix may be to tear out the existing floor and replace it with an entirely new one. A professional flooring dealer will be most qualified to review the situation and make the proper recommendation.