You’re settling in for a nice evening in with that new bingeable TV show that your coworkers keep talking about. The snacks are laid out, the couch cushions have been arranged perfectly, and you’ve told your friends not to bother you for the next eight or so hours.
You walk to the kitchen to get a drink, but as you stand in front of the fridge you notice something’s not quite right. Looking down, you see that your once elegant oak flooring has become warped and discolored. Tonight was supposed to be a relaxing evening; the last thing you want to think about is replacing hardwood floors.
Water can cause serious damage to wood without anyone catching it. When you do see it, you’ve got to act fast. Here are some tips on what to do if you notice your hardwood floor warping.
Find the Source
Before you even attempt to replace your hardwood floors, figure out exactly where the water is coming from. Repairing the damage is ultimately useless if you don’t take care of the root of the problem.
Hardwood floors don’t start warping because of a few spills here and there; you’re looking for a constant source of moisture creeping into the wood over a long period of time. Depending on where the damage is located, you should be able to pinpoint likely suspects.
If the damage is near a window or a door, you may be looking at a case of poor installation. The average homeowner might not even notice until the wetter part of the year, when heavy rainfall or snow leads to moisture seeping in through cracks in the seal. Older homes are particularly susceptible to outside water leakage, faulty installation or not.
Warping near a radiator or refrigerator can indicate an internal source of water. Depending on the appliance you’re looking at, it might be easy to tell. Radiators and water heaters have most of their piping exposed, making it a snap to look over the connections and see if anything is amiss. You’re in for more of a chore if you’re looking at a fridge or dishwasher, as most of those water sources are tucked away or hidden behind the appliance itself.
Many modern refrigerators have a convenient water dispensers built right into the door, allowing you to fill your glass with cool, filtered water. Should any of the piping in the dispenser or filter break or clog, you might be looking at a serious leak right in your own home.
Dishwashers can be an even bigger problem as drainage tubes can develop cracks after only a few years of use. If the tube is cheaply made, or if it’s not supported properly, you could be looking at a prolonged series of drips seeping into your floors.
Once you’ve found and repaired the source of the water, you can tackle the floors themselves.
Assess the Damage, then Determine What Needs to be Done
Depending on when you caught the damage, you might not have to just to completely replacing your hardwood floors. If you notice the warping early enough, or if it hasn’t progressed too far, you may have other options. Before you get in touch with your local hardwood specialists, get the lay of the land and figure out what you need to do.
Cupping and crowning are a common symptom of water damage. Moisture makes the wood expand, causing it to either rise up along the edge or the center of the boards. Sometimes all you need to do in order to restore the floor is to remove the source of water and let the floors dry out. If the warping is minor, the floor should shrink back down to it’s intended size and lie flat.
In other cases, it might be necessary to sand down the uneven edges and refinish the floor. While the process isn’t as extreme as ripping out the entire floor and replacing it, it is still pretty involved. Sanding, staining, and sealing all take time, and getting the floor back to how it used to look can be harder than you think.
The stain of your floor changes over time due to sun exposure, making matching the color tricky. Even if you get the stain to match, the edges between the old and new finish will still stand out. Sometimes the only way to get a cohesive floor is to sand and refinish the entire floor.
For serious damage, your only option is putting in new boards with the help of a professional with experience replacing hardwood floors. This person will be tasked with finding wood to best match the same kind and grain of wood, then make adjustments to match the hue and stain of the rest of the floor.
Matching the grain and hue of the floor, then seamlessly weaving it in to replace the damage planks requires skill and expertise. Homeowners within the greater Portland, Oregon area can rely on Wall2Wall Hardwoods for the help they need assessing and repairing the warping.
Be Prepared & Preventative What You Can
Replacing hardwood floors is enough to make you never want do it again. So, after your hardwood is back to its beautiful self, make sure to prevent water damage from happening again.
Keep an eye on potential sources for leaks. Be sure that any cracks in your doors or windows are tightly sealed before wet seasons, and be aware of any unintentional moisture being brought into the house by people.
Don’t let wet rain jackets drip on the floor all autumn long and use a shower mat to keep the bathroom floor from accumulating moisture. Check your appliances regularly for any cracks or leaks, and also proactively repairing any damage to pipes or tubing. All it takes is one steady drip over time to ruin your beautiful hardwood floors, so it’s up to you to be vigilant and nip the disaster in the bud.
But don’t worry. With some maintenance and a little foresight, your flooring will stay gorgeous for years to come!