Repair or Replace Water Damaged Hardwood Floor

lanzzJune 23, 2012

Hey all - I came back from a week away to find a leak from the unit upstairs in my living room. I have started the insurance claim process, and wanted some opinions. The floor is cupped in several spots, and the superintendent expects that it will buckle when it dries and will need to be ripped out and replaced.

Obviously, that is a huge disruption (I will need to essentially move out of the apartment to have this done) which I would like to avoid.

Any opinions on whether or not this type of damage can be repaired, rather than starting over again? Would it look ok if it was repaired? It is an oak strip floor, not engineered or laminate. Thanks for taking a look.

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Hi, sorry to hear about your floors. The same happened to my floors about a month ago. Fortunately, we were home and able to get the water up quickly. Unfortunately, we had just had our floors refinished that same month! Ours cupped too. Did your homeowners offer Servicemaster or a similar company to help dry the floors? They bring in dehumidifiers and big fans to help dry them out out. We are not having ours ripped out even though the insurance adjuster believed they should have been. We are using the same floor company that initially did the floors and he believe he can save them. The meter used to check for moisture registered below 7 and is considered good from what we understand. Our floors had only been sanded and refinished once in most of the house. That will make a difference. Do you know if yours had been refinished several times? The floor company's main concern was having to sand so much to "uncup" the floors. Fearing they would be left thin. They may be able to only replace a few boards finger laying them and then refinishing them to match up. It may take a little time for them to dry out before your adjuster can make a assessment. It is a huge inconvenience for sure. They are starting our work on the 2nd. Good luck to you. It will eventually work out. Oh, BTW, if we wanted to leave the house during the process our homeowners would have put us up at a hotel.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Let them dry out and see what happens.

If it's just a few permanently damaged boards, they can be chiseled out and replaced by new boards, planed (if necessary) from the top side to match height, stained to blend with the floor and pre-finished with something to match the remaining boards.

If it's done by someone with even a bit of skill, the patched-in boards will be invisible.

I've done it to various floors

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:15AM
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Just bumping this back up... lanzz how did your situation turn out? We had something similar happen and they are telling us they need to refinish all the hardwood in our open kitchen/living room/foyer. We wouldn't be able to get in the house because of the layout so they are saying we'd need to be out for a week at least. We have dogs and kids and just don't know how to pull this off even with the insurance company footing the bill for the hotel.

Did you find an alternative to moving out?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Kim... funny that you ask... Back in July, the floor guy came and told me to wait, so I did. (He was the guy that installed the floor 11 years earlier...) I took his advice and waited out the damage and the floor went about 95% back to normal. The boards that buckled actually flattened out almost completely, and the finish looked ok (not perfect, but ok...)

So - given the disruption that I was facing, I chose to live with the small imperfections that were left over. I cancelled the insurance claim, to avoid the hit to my rates and just moved on with my life.

I hope yours turns out as well - I ended up pretty happy with the outcome, given the alternatives.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 9:53AM
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They just removed the mats and dehumidifiers from our floor and while it doesn't look great, it doesn't look that bad. I was quite surprised. And we have dogs and kids so our floors will never look perfect anyway.

We have an open floor plan so they think the insurance is going to cover refinishing all of it, not just the damaged part. It's hard to pass that up even with the having to be out of the house for so long.

In addition to all the hassle I'm also a little nervous about having a crew of strangers working in my home while we're not here. I'm sure it would be fine, but still not thrilled with the idea.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 2:50PM
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