Water damage to hardwood flooring: Repair or replace?
If parquet is arched or swollen, excessive moisture is often the reason.
While superficial water damage can be detected quickly and easily, the cause can also be hidden under the floor. In this article you will learn what causes excessive moisture under the parquet and how to proceed in case of water damage.
How does parquet react to moisture?
As a natural wooden floor, parquet always reacts to water.
What is of great advantage in terms of indoor climate and feel-good atmosphere on the one hand can lead to damage in the parquet floor on the other hand.
Too high humidity leads to an increased swelling behavior of the parquet – unsightly deformations are the result.
A different image is created depending on where the water comes from:
- Moisture spreads from below, parquet forms convex – it swells up and the middle of the rods curves upwards or comes up.
- If moisture enters from above, the deformations are concave – the so-called “bowl” occurs, the parquet deforms like a bowl, with the edges facing upwards.
Causes of water damage in the parquet
Water damage in the parquet can have many causes. While a fallen water bucket or a room flooded by an leaking washing machine is quickly discovered, there are a number of water damage that is not so obvious.
Thus, the damage is often not noticed until the parquet is swelled or curves. Then it is said to get to the bottom of the matter quickly in order to limit the damage as much as possible.
There are the following options:
Too moist screed
If it is a new building, the parquet may have been on a screed that was too damp.
In order for a newly erected screed to be suitable for laying parquet, it must be completely dry.
As a guideline, a drying time of approx. one week per cm of screed – a classic cement screed is therefore usually sufficiently dried after about 4 weeks. In order to be certain, a residual moisture determination must be carried out using the CM method before laying the hardwood flooring, which determines exactly whether the values are within the approved standard.
Defective water pipes or heating pipes
If there are water or heating pipes – for example from a underfloor heating system – under the hardwood flooring, the water damage may also have been caused by a leak in these pipes. In this case, moisture penetrates into the parquet from below, but this can go unnoticed for a while.
Too high humidity
Particularly with floating parquet laid , bulging can also be caused by excessive humidity. If, in addition, too little space has been left around the edges or at door thresholds to give the parquet the necessary room to swell and shrink, it will mainly come up at the joints.
Water damage in the parquet – what to do?
No matter what the cause is – in case of water damage in the parquet, the motto applies:
The quicker the damage is repaired, the smaller are the consequences and the more likely it is that the parquet can be repaired.
As soon as a water damage has been detected in the parquet, the therefore be acted upon as soon as possible. In this way, it is not only avoid irreparable damage, but it also prevents mold formation, which could sometimes spread to the entire floor construction.
Parquet has the great advantage that it can be easily repaired in most cases with slight to moderate water damage.
A real wood floor is completely destroyed only if the water is on the floor for a long time or the parquet elements in it “float”.
In contrast to other floor coverings, such as laminate, parquet can therefore usually be easily renovated – even the repair of individual damaged areas is possible.
The cost of repairing or remediation measures depends accordingly on the extent of the water damage.
Eliminate superficial water damage in the parquet
Water damage to the surface of the parquet is best repaired by first wiping the water as quickly as possible.
Afterwards, the parquet must dry completely.
If the floor was only in contact with the water for a short time – for example, because a bucket was spilled – it is sufficient to provide the necessary draught in the room by aeration. The affected area can then be treated with a suitable care product.
In the case of larger or longer floods – e.g. due to leaking washing machines or floods – the residual moisture from the parquet and the air must be removed over a longer period of time by a dehumidifier.
It is important to keep windows and doors closed during the entire drying phase – with the exception of impulse ventilation – windows and doors.
Suitable equipment can be rented at DIY stores or specialist companies, the costs for this are usually covered by the insurance.
In addition, in the case of major surface damage, the water may also have penetrated into the joints of the parquet and thus spread moisture under the floor.
If this risk exists, a expert or expert should definitely be consulted, who will examine the water damage in detail and plan further measures if necessary.
Repair water damage below the parquet
If the source of the water damage is below the parquet, has probably already passed some time, which is the expense of the Damage is eliminated.
The most important thing is to eliminate the cause of water ingress. To do this, it is usually necessary to remove the parquet at the affected area. Later the parquet can be fixed again with parquet adhesive.
Once the damage has been repaired, the entire underbody – especially the screed – must first completely dry up before the hole can be closed again.
The use of a drying device is also recommended for this purpose.
In addition, any existing bulk material should be removed. Only when the soil has completely dried out and there are no signs of mold formation, the affected area can be filled with new bulk material and the hole can be closed with new parquet elements.
The old hardwood flooring will probably be too damaged by the effects of water to be reused. Colour differences in the decor can be compensated for by special oils or lacquers or a new parquet sealing.
Signs of mold infestation
If a musty, fashionable or earthy smell goes out after a water damage, this is usually an indication that mold has formed under the parquet.
The extent of the infestation and the possible spread to the dwelling can be investigated by means of an appropriate expert opinion.
If mould is actually found, the parquet must be completely removed and often also the screed underneath must be renovated.
A new screed may only be introduced if the residual moisture in the room is below 4 percent – after that, the corresponding drying time must be observed before a new parquet can be laid.
Since the highest care is required in the refurbishment of parquet after a water damage with mould infestation, the measures should be carried out by a specialist.