How to Fix Water Damage on a Hardwood Floor

water damaged hardwood floor.
  • 48 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 75-300
What You'll Need
Pry bar
Staple gun
Unfinished wood
Face mask
Oxalic acid crystals

Many homeowners experience water damage every year for a number of different reasons. When you have a hardwood floor, you should be aware that it won't handle water problems well, but you have a several different options when it comes to repairing water damage to your flooring.

Here are a few steps that you can take to repair a hardwood floor that has suffered water damage.

Step 1 - Remove Stains

If the water just managed to stain the hardwood, then you can remove the stain without a lot of other work. For this process, you can sand down the boards that are affected and then use oxalic acid crystals to remove the water stain. You can then re-apply the stain and coat it with polyurethane sealer, but it will often require more work than that. If your boards are warped from the water, you will have to replace them, sand the entire area, and refinish it to match.

WARNING: Wood stain often contains toxic chemicals, so put on safety goggles and a face mask before you start sanding.

Step 2 - Remove the Damaged Boards

If you have boards that are warped, you will need to remove them from the floor. If they are bent upwards, there is a good chance that they are no longer attached to the floor. You can use a saw to cut into the floor in the affected area. Use the pry bar to pull upwards on the boards that are damaged. Pull them from the floor. If you do not have experience in lacing boards back into the middle of the floor, you may want to take it up all the way to a wall.

Step 3 - Install New Boards

Once you have cleared out the damaged boards, you will need to install new hardwood in its place. Make sure that you get the same type and grade that is currently in use. You also need to allow the new wood to acclimate to the new environment before you install. Doing so will ensure that it fits together well with the existing hardwood. Fit a new board into an adjacent board by sliding the groove onto the tongue of another board. Shoot some staples diagonally through the tongue of the board. Continue installing boards until the area is filled.

Step 4 - Sand the Floor

Once the wood is in place, you need to sand the entire floor with a sander. Take off the layer of finish or stain and get down to where you are working with raw wood again.

Step 5 - Stain the Floor

You will then need to stain the floor. Stain the entire floor so it will be consistent throughout. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Step 6 - Finish the Floor

Once you have stained the floor, you will need to put two coats of polyurethane finish on it. Apply the first coat and let it dry. Then apply a second coat and allow it to dry before using the floor.