Restoring Your Floors After Water Damage

Restoring Your Floors After Water Damage

How you repair your water damaged floors will vary depending on your floor type. You’ll want to assess the amount of damage, the type of water, and if the water has leaked through the initial floor layer. If it is surface level and you have a durable flooring material like tile, you won’t have too many problems with cleanup. Carpet, hardwood flooring, and laminate flooring restoration will be more time-intensive and require more extensive measures to completely repair. No matter the type of flooring or the extent of water damage, begin restoration of your floors immediately to increase your chances of salvaging it.

Any time your home encounters water damage, whether it’s from a natural disaster, leaky pipe, or other cause, the floor is bound to get wet. Even if the water damage is minimal and the rest of the home manages to stay free from moisture, it’s important to make sure that your floors are properly cleaned and restored. Leaving your floors to air dry is an invitation for mold that can have damaging effects.

How Do You Dry a Floor After a Water Leak or Flood?

You don’t want the water to extend past the initial layer of flooring and into the subfloor. Once water hits the subfloor you’ll have a much harder time restoring the flooring. Absorb as much water as possible as quickly as possible and set up a dehumidifier to begin the process of drying after leaks or floods.

What Are the Types of Water Damage?

Flooring and ceiling showing water damage

Not all water damage is equal. While clean water damage is considered less severe even in higher quantities, black water damage can pose serious health side effects if not properly managed. Understanding the type of water damage your home has experienced will help you better understand what steps to take following the disaster.

Clean Water

Category one damage comes from clean water. This water damage could come from a toilet’s holding tank or an appliance. Snow and rain are also potential sources of clean water. This type of water damage poses no health risks and you can potentially clean it up on your own. It will still be a headache however and a restoration company will be able to help even if your situation doesn’t consist of category two or category three water damage.

Note: Clean water can become greywater if it’s allowed to sit for more than 48 hours. It’s important you act fast to manage the damage and potential health risks with passing time.


Category two water damage is also called graywater or sullage. Graywater contains no fecal contaminants but does carry pathogens you don’t want to inhale or ingest. Plumbing mishaps, natural disasters, and pipe breaks can all result in water damage from graywater.

While you shouldn’t go around drinking graywater, it’s not as dangerous as blackwater. And just like clean water, graywater can turn into blackwater in 48 hours.


Category three or blackwater is the worst type of water damage your home can endure. Blackwater contains human waste and other toxins or pathogens that can severely impact your health. Furniture, drywall, and carpet are unsalvageable in these situations.

Hurricanes and storms produce water damage which is automatically referred to as blackwater as there is potential for these contaminants to be present. Blackwater is both incredibly destructive and incredibly risky to be around. Both humans and animals can become ill from contact with blackwater.

You’ll need immediate, professional help to manage the aftermath of blackwater damage.

How to Fix Water Damaged Carpeting and Rugs

Carpeting on stairs showing water damage

Restoring carpeted floors requires different steps depending on the amount of time the water sits in the carpet and the amount of water that saturates the carpet. If the carpet becomes completely saturated and sits for a long period of time, it might be best to pull up the carpet and padding and replace it. If your carpet comes into contact with blackwater you should have a restoration company remove the carpeting entirely. This water carries contaminants that can endanger your health.

If the water is removed quickly, it may be possible to salvage the carpet. The padding should generally be replaced any time it soaks up moisture. But it is not impossible to salvage.

To restore a carpet you’ll need to act quickly. A wet-dry vacuum should be used immediately to remove any standing water from the area. You can then use a dehumidifier to dry out the room and limit the possibility of mold growth. Air movers and carpet drying fans can be used to thoroughly dry the carpet. A restoration company will be able to supply the equipment and handle all restoration processes.

After drying the carpet, it should be cleaned thoroughly – and replaced if there are any signs of mold. You’ll want to have your salvaged carpet thoroughly cleaned with an extraction cleaner or steam cleaner to completely sanitize it.

Can You Fix Water Damaged Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring stands up well to a small spill, but not to any amount of flooding. After water damage has occurred, it’s usually best to simply replace the laminate flooring rather than try to repair it. Underlayment should also be removed and replaced to prevent mold growth.

Laminate flooring absorbs water and expands. During a flood, where the laminate is exposed to a significant amount of water, this spells disaster for your flooring. Once the laminate begins to dry it won’t be much better as it will constrict back to its original size. Because of the structure of laminate flooring, the floor will begin to bubble or curl as it dries and pulls away from the fiberboard. You’ll be left with ruined, unsalvageable floors. And that’s if you’re able to get the laminate flooring to ever completely dry. This process can take weeks compared with other flooring types where drying may only take a few days.

While water damaged laminate flooring can not be saved, it can be easily replaced. Laminate flooring is installed as boards. Depending on the amount of damage your home has experienced, you could be replacing a number of boards. But if the damage was confined to a single room or area due to a leak, you can specifically remove and replace the affected boards.

How Do You Fix Water Damaged Wood Floors

damaged wood flooring

Hardwood flooring can be painful to remove and replace because of the cost that generally goes into installing the flooring in the first place. However, it can be tough to tell whether hardwood floors can be salvaged. In some cases, moisture can seep below hardwood floors in as little as 24 hours and cause unseen mold to grow.

It’s important to completely dry both hardwood and the sub-floor as quickly as possible after water damage has occurred. It can be difficult to do so without special equipment and it can be tough to tell whether the floor has been completely dried after clean-up. For best results, it’s recommended to call in floor restoration specialists to help you clean and salvage your hardwood floors.

To begin fighting off long-term water damage to your wood floors, point large fans directly as the affected area. You’ll want to open all the windows to help move moisture out. It’s recommended you put in extra steps to ensure no water is pooling between floors. Calling in an expert is the easiest way to ensure you don’t cause additional damage to your floor or ceiling with misplaced squares or holes drilled.

You’ll also want to work with a wood flooring contractor. This professional can provide an EMC, or equilibrium moisture content, reading. This will need to be monitored over the coming thirty days. Once the floor has reached an acceptable EMC, the floor can then be resanded. Never sand your flooring too soon. If you sand the flooring before it is dried you can wind up with cupping, resulting in a concave floor. This will lead to further re-sandings and more years shaved off the lifespan of your flooring.

How Do You Get Water Stains Out of Wood Floors

If you’re dealing with a fresh water stain you have more options for easily avoiding further staining and removing the existing stain. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Begin by buffing the stained area with a soft cloth, taking extra care not to scratch the flooring. Always buff with the grain of the wood.
  2. Use a blow dryer on a low setting to carefully dry out any remaining water. You should see slight staining if there is still water present in the wood. You want to be careful you don’t damage the wood with the hairdryer by ensuring it doesn’t become hot enough to burn the wood.
  3. Finally, finish by buffing with furniture polish. Make sure it’s oil-based or this won’t work properly!

If the water stain has had more time to sit you’ll want to pair the above steps with a cleaner specifically for removing water stains from wood. You can find these in local appliance or grocery stores.

Restoring Tile Floors After Water Damage

Black mold and water damage setting into tile flooring

Ceramic tile floors generally stand up the best to water damage. If the floors are properly installed, the water usually can’t seep through to the subfloor. To determine whether this is the case, it may be beneficial to remove a tile or two and inspect the subfloor. Alternatively, floor restoration professionals may be able to check the subfloor without removing any tiles.

Tiles themselves will absorb little to no water and can generally be used again with new adhesive even if your flooring needs to be redone after water damage. Preferably, you’ll want to have an impervious or vitreous tile type installed. The tile types absorb, at most, 3% of water. But they can absorb as little as 0.001% of water. Loose tiles and cracked grout after water damage is a sign those tiles will need to be replaced or reinstalled on your floor.

Does Water Damage Happen Immediately?

There are both immediate and gradual side effects of water damage in your home. If flooring becomes saturated enough then the damage will be immediate and irreversible. Water damage will only worsen the longer it sits. It’s important you handle water damage immediately to diminish the long term effects of water damage on your flooring.

How Long After Water Damage Does Mold Grow?

Mold growing on wall and floor
Mold can begin to grow only 48 hours after water damage occurs, spores having germinated only 12 hours after water damage. Within 12 days, and potentially within one day, the mold will colonize. This is why it is important you begin to absorb all the water in your home as quickly after water damage takes place as possible. Controlling humidity and limiting dampness in your home will largely impact molds’ ability to grow.

Does Mold Come Back?

Particularly stubborn and resilient mold can come back even after remediation if given the right conditions for regrowth. A professional restoration company can guide you through the processes necessary to prevent any mold from returning and what you should do if signs of return begin to pop up.

To lower your chances of mold returning, take extra measures to reduce humidity in your home and eliminate any excess moisture.

How Do I Know My Floor Needs to Be Completely Replaced After Water Damage?

Subflooring that has become damaged will need to be replaced in essentially all situations where the water damage has occurred. Swollen, lifted, and squishy floors are a sure sign replacement with be necessary. Having a disaster restoration company access your home will give you a better understanding of how well your floor can be restored and if they can be restored at all.

Scheduling a Flooring Restoration

Flood or other forms of water damage can be costly, time-consuming, and headache-inducing. To remove the stress of even ‘small’ amounts of water damage, get the help of local restoration professionals. They have the equipment, expertise, and know-how to assess and repair the situation. Contact Florida Catastrophe for help with your water damaged flooring.

And remember, you should never enter your home after severe water damage. Wait until an authority, usually your fire department, gives the okay for reentry.

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of water damage, contact us for professional assistance returning your residence to normal.

Water Damage Restoration Tips for Homeowners

Water Damage Restoration TipsDid you know that about 40 percent of home insurance claims are due to water damage? This unfortunate event can result from plumbing leaks, natural disasters, and old appliances. Water damage is costly and inconvenient. Preventing it is much cheaper than paying for repairs.

Simple things, such as cleaning your gutters, repairing leaking pipes, and checking the roof, could save you a fortune. Water damage restoration costs thousands of dollars, so it’s better to prevent these problems in the first place. It’s your responsibility as a homeowner to protect your assets.

How Does Water Damage Occur?

Water damage is often caused by old or poorly maintained appliances, leaking pipes, and sewer backup. Most times, it occurs because homeowners fail to check the connection between their washing machine and the water line. Snow on the roof, flooding, and rain can cause water damage too. Fortunately, this problem is completely preventable.

The best way to avoid water damage is to check any sources of leaks in your home regularly. These include hot water tanks, washing machine hoses, dishwasher hoses, frozen pipes, broken or burst pipes, and home appliances. Sewer and sump backups, water escape, and water seepage are common causes of flooding. Even a small leak can cause major problems.

If you believe your home is at risk for water damage, check the plumbing system yourself or call an expert. The detection of water into structural cavities can only be discovered with special equipment. A professional water damage restoration firm can assess the situation, clean up the mess, and fix burst pipes. Some companies provide emergency building services to prevent additional damage. They can fix your roof, repair the floor, and rebuild the affected areas.

What to Do after Water Damage

When your house is flooded, the water can ruin its structure and your personal assets. It’s essential that you clean up the area immediately in order to prevent mold and minimize losses. The danger is not over when the water goes down. Your electrical system could be severely affected, and the home’s foundation may have been damaged. Furniture, carpets, wallpaper and other items in your home will hold mud and contaminants forever, so it’s better to replace them.

As soon as you enter the house, unplug any electronics and remove furnishings. Turn off the gas and check the foundation for cracks. Do not use candles before or after a flood. Report any gas leaks or downed power lines. Look carefully at the ceiling before going inside the building. Look for signs of sagging.

Use buckets, mops, and towels to get rid of the water. Pour it down the drain if the sewers in the area are not backed up. Consider using a wet/dry vacuum. Clean and disinfect every surface, remove the mud, and dry out the affected areas. Throw away tree limbs and other trash. Call a water damage restoration expert if needed.

Once these steps are complete, contact your insurance agent to tell him about the damage. Check your insurance policy so that you will know what’s covered. Take photos of the building as you clean up. Get organized and create a recovery plan. Do not move back into the house until restoration is complete.


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