How To Avoid Water Damage To Your Hardwood Floor

by Jules Hopkins

Standing water is the greatest enemy of hardwood floors. No matter how strong or durable your hardwood floor is, it is still susceptible to water damage. Water may seem so harmless, but if allowed to sit on a hardwood floor, it can cause warping or discoloration or even ruin your beautiful hardwood floor and make it both difficult and costly to repair or replace.

After a flood, immediately hiring a trusted professional restoration company is your best chance of saving your hardwood floor. However, the failure to protect your hardwood floor from spills, excess humidity or contact with moisture on a daily basis could lead to irremediable damage and loss of this great asset and investment. Here are some of the damages caused by water and how you can keep your hardwood floor dry to avoid water damage.

Hardwood floor damages caused by water

Whatever the damages you noticed on your hardwood floor, you need to understand and diagnose the issue and act fast to avoid further damages. Below are some of the water damage to look out for on your hardwood floor.

Minor Damage

Discoloration or white stain on your hardwood floor surface is evidence of minor damage. Treat this issue by keeping the floor dry and buffing the wood surface with toothpaste or automotive polish.

Severe Damage

This kind of issue is caused by a storm or a busted pipe. The evidence of severe damages is often obvious and requires prompt action and restoration to avoid permanent damage. The most common signs include wet baseboard and drywall, squishy boards and pooled water. Dry out the area, and if you cannot accomplish this quickly, reach out to a professional as soon as you can.

Mold Growth

Mold is hazardous to human health; it can cause breathing problems or allergic reactions when you come in contact with it or when you inhale their spores. Black stains on your hardwood floor surface could be a sign of mold growth.

If you detect any sign of mold and mildew in the pores of your hardwood floor, you may need to remove the wax finish and treat your floor with hot water and oxalic acid crystals to kill the mold. You can also scrub your wooden floor with baking soda solution to remove the mold. When you've treated the mold, you'll need to dry, stain and seal the area. You can hire a professional or flooring contractor to ensure your wood floor is treated properly.

Subfloor Damage

Your subfloor is located under the decorative finish of your hardwood flooring and is commonly made of pine in older homes and plywood in newer homes. Water can get down into your subfloor via misdirected rainwater, leaking pipe, toilet or sink and damage it. The destructive effect that subfloor damage can have on a home is extreme so your subfloor must be treated promptly and efficiently.

The signs of damages to the subfloor include popping, cracking, or cupping boards, and excessive mold growth. Remove your damaged floor materials, fix the leak, dry out the area, and replace with new plywood. You can equally hire a professional to treat the damages to your subfloor properly.

How to Keep Your Hardwood Floor Dry and Avoid Water Damage

Remove drenched objects from your hardwood floor

Drenched furniture and rugs or other wet objects placed on a hardwood floor will continue shedding its moisture content into the floor which can eventually damage the floor. Also, wet objects can lead to the growth of mold and mildew in the seams and pores of your flooring. Remove all soaked items from the floor and place them where they can be easily dried.

Look out for potential causes of wet-floor

Keeping your floor dry may seem like a stressful task, but it's really not, you only need to understand its "Dos" and "Don't." Look out for anything that can make your floor wet and deal with them. Do not leave muddy or dirty shoes and any damp item such as rain boots, umbrellas, laundry, and a towel on your hardwood floor. Wipe up any splashes or spills quickly with a cloth or towel designated for floor spills. Keep the towel handy so that you can quickly and conveniently clean the floor and keep it dry.

Apply sealant periodically

Applying sealant like polyurethane or wax can help to improve your hardwood floor's resistance to water, thus, preventing it from absorbing moisture. However, sealants can't completely prevent your hardwood floor from absorbing moisture. They will only toughen and add a layer of protection to your wood flooring, so you'll have more time to clean up water or spill before it can cause any damage.

If you're applying sealant to protect your flooring, you need to apply it periodically. If you're using waxing your floor to protect it from water damage, you'll reapply it every year. And if you choose to use polyurethane sealant, you'll need to reapply it every 3 to 4 years.

Inspect your plumbing

Flooding or water leaks are the major causes of water damage to hardwood flooring and are mostly caused by a defect in home plumbing. Before you install your hardwood floor, you need to check your plumbing for any mishap such as leaks, pipe damage, and plumbing breaks and try as much as you can to fix it (shut the water off if you need to). And if repairing the defect or leaks goes beyond your expertise, consider hiring a plumber or a leak repair specialist.

Control your home humidity

Both dry and moist air can affect wood. Be aware that the air is dryer than usual during the winter and tends to be moister during the summer. So, ensure that you adjust your humidifier according to the changes in weather.

Clean your floor properly

Use quality products that are specifically designed for hardwood floors when cleaning the floor. Mopping hardwood floors can be a little tricky as it can leave some amount of liquid behind so, vacuuming and sweeping are water-free cleaning methods that you can rely on. If your floor needs to be thoroughly cleaned, you can clean it with a moist, soft mop and dry it after cleaning. No matter the cleaning method you use, do not allow any puddles of liquid to sit on your floor for too long.

What if there's a real flood?

If you experience a real flood, here are some things to do to avoid water damage to your hardwood floor:


When it comes to preventing water damage to hardwood flooring, prompt action is the key. You'll have a very good chance of saving your floor, prevent damage, and protect your investment if you can act fast and dry the floors properly.