Water damaged hardwood floors

Water damaged hardwood floors - We never want to be out of the house, when an appliance breaks,  a pipe burst, or roof leak. Spewing water all over our hardwood floors. Causing unwanted water damaged hardwood floors. The water soaking through to the subfloor and to whatever is down below, causing extensive damage to the home or building. The hassle of going through the insurance, clean up and hiring a flooring contractor that is competent enough to repair the water damaged wood floors. And keeping our fingers crossed in hoping that there are no repercussions due to a mistake made by hiring the incorrect contractor. We never know, when it will happen to us, but we just hope that we are not too far away, for when it does.  Continue on reading for a list of things you should know about repairing water damaged hardwood floors.

Water damaged hardwood floors
A list of things you should know, before you hire

Moisture meterPin type moisture meter


  • Humidity reading - Indoor relative humidity should be at normal living condition, between 30-50% RH. You will experience a spike in RH with an abnormal amount of water being introduced to area where it does not belong. Wait for RH to return to normal before attempting to do any floor repair.
  • Moisture reading - Before you hire a flooring contractor to do your repair. Make sure he/she owns and understands how to use a moisture meter. The importance of a moisture meter is to help locate the source of the moisture problem, to measure the amount of moisture in the damaged area and compare it to an unaffected area to help determine what a nominal reading would be. And to help monitor the progress of the drying process. If, the flooring contractor does not own a moisture meter, steer clear of their service. Subfloor moisture reading at 1/4" depth should be equal at 3/4" depth reading.  If, the top of the subfloor reads 8%, the bottom should also, read 8% to be considered normal.  If, the top read 8% and the bottom reads 12%. This is abnormal and the subfloor will need to continue drying until it reaches equilibrium at the top and bottom. Yes, you will need to make a reading at two different depths. You will need a moisture meter with those capabilities.
  • Remove wet floor boards - You need to remove the wet floor board - why? The subfloor underneath needs to dry out. If, it stays covered with the hardwood. It will take months or up to a year to dry out. If, you don't, you will run into the risk of mold growth and possible irreversible damages. Insurance is covering the damages, remove the floor boards and dispose of it.
  • Allow the subfloor to dry completely - The biggest mistake most contractors will make is not allowing the subfloor to dry and return back to the original reading. Which can be measured in a unaffected section of the subfloor with a moisture meter. Drying can take anywhere from days to weeks. This is one part of the repair process that should not be rushed or avoided. Failing to do so will result in cupped floors boards  and crushed edges, resulting in permanent gapping.
  • Acclimating the hardwood floor boards - We are always tempted to just cover up the repair area with new floor boards, for the sake of getting the job done quicker, so we can return to our normal life. Even a small repair project, do not avoid acclimating the floor boards to your subfloor. Strip flooring should measure within 4% of the subfloor. And planks should be within 2% of the subfloor with a moisture meter.

Avoid making a costly, repeated mistake.  Save yourself time and the aggravation from reworks. Follow the list above and make a smart intellectual hire and get the job done right, the first time. 

For more information on moisture reading visit NWFA.org

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