sanding and refinishing wood floors after water damage- round 2

lowjo1July 4, 2011

(Just posted this on the flooring forum as well. Wasn't sure which forum was best.)

We put on an addition 5 years ago. Oak floors throughout first floor. Last summer, the dishwasher hose exploded causing damage to the kitchen floor. We had to have the floor in the entire back of the house sanded down and refinished. Months later (can't remember exactly how long it took), the floor buckled again. We now have to have it refinished again. The refinisher said it must not have been dry enough the last time. I know he tested it with that tester that gives you a number for how dry the wood is before he refinished them last summer. I remember he said that the number was ok (a little on the higher side, but ok to do).

One year later and we want to try again. Note that this refinisher/installer comes highly recommended by several people we know. I am concerned, however, that the floors will buckle again. We did not run it thru insurance last time(big regret) because we had our siding replaced recently and were concerned about too many claims being submitted. So the sanding and refnishing is $1300 a pop.

What do you advise in this situation?

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sombreuil_mongrel

They tested the surface of the floor, not the underside where all the water had been soaking in. Their bad. It was probably 10% higher underneath. Probably best to sand now, wait until the end of summer before putting the finish on to let the moisture level stabilize. The varnish is still going to stop even drying from taking place. You can only sand a floor so many times.
Casey

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 10:15AM
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brickeyee

Buckling is caused by an increase in moisture content, wood swelling, and not enough room for the resulting expansion.

It sounds like it was never dried out adequately, moisture continued to move into the wood, and the resulting swelling used up all the expansion space the floor was laid with.

Tincture of time is the beast cure for hardwood floors that have been soaked.

Sometimes almost a year to make sure the wood has returned to an equilibrium with the inside of the house.

There is no good way to rush the job.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 12:34PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Can't tell w/o a pic if it's actually buckled or just severely cupped.
I want to take back my suggestion to sand now, because I realized you'd still have to sand again when/if the floor un-cupped. But with the finish still in place it could be a year before it is well and truly dry and stable. If you are in a hurry, just pull the floor and redo it with new material. With fans and a/c the subfloor will be dry enough within a month.
Casey

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 7:43PM
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lowjo1

Tried to take a picture but you can't see what's going on. Perhaps cupped is a better word.

It has been one year since it was previously sanded and refinished. Based on your posts, I'm going to assume I should go ahead and try again. If I am missing something, please let me know.

Appreciate it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 5:37PM
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brickeyee

"If I am missing something, please let me know. "

Have the moisture content of the wood tested.

Everyone seems to want a quick fix for hardwood floors that get wet, and it simply does not work.

If you sand cupped wood that is damp, the cupping is reversed when the boards finally dry out.
And then you need to finish them again, removing more of the wood.

A good wood moisture meter should be able to tell you if the area in question has the same moisture content as other parts of the floor that did not get wet.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:10AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

I would cut out a section of subfloor from underneath the epicenter of the flooded region so the moisture level of the wet side (bottom) of the floor can be ascertained. The hole could be made with a holesaw, just large enough for the moisture meter. Each hole is really only good for one immediate test, as the proximity to moving air is going to permit that spot to dry more rapidly.
Casey

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 7:22PM
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brickeyee

"I would cut out a section of subfloor from underneath the epicenter of the flooded region so the moisture level of the wet side (bottom) of the floor can be ascertained. "

The correct meter will penetrate far enough to allow comparison with an undamaged (dry) area.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:29AM
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