Wood Floor Warped And Curling Because Of Water Damage


We went away for the weekend this holiday season and came back to discover that our Christmas tree stand had a crack in the bottom. Although we had a vinyl cloth under it the water spread out to the wood floor. We now have several strips of our red oak stained floor that are warped and curling. We tried laying boards and weights on them when they were still damp, but it didn’t seem to help. Any ideas?


Dear Robyn

For now, it’s best to let the wood dry out on it’s own. You can put a fan on the surface (but not a heater). Keep the wood floor uncovered. If you can access the underside you can heat this area just a little (80F) to dry out the subfloor. Be patient and wait about a month to see if the wood is settling back into place. In most cases the winter heating season with further dry out the wood.

If you don’t want to repair the floor right now wait until the floor and the subfloor have a moisture content of 6-9%. Moisture meters are available at http://www.leevalley.com. Order number 99N15.01. Or you might borrow one from a local carpenter or cabinet-maker. It may be worth removing just one board to speed up this process. Choose the most warped board, and remove it according to the directions laid out in my repair article available in the search box at the top of this web page. Or you can remove all the warped boards, check the moisture content in the spot, and repair with new wood right away.

Once the floor has dried out, and settled back after at least a month or even two, repair the boards that have really warped beyond recovery, and sand the rest flat. You will need to use a floor edger sander with 80 grit sandpaper, and finish off with a vibrator sander with 100 grit, then hand sand again with 100 grit until very smooth.

Touching up the stain will be tricky, be sure you use the same brand that was used on the floor. You didn’t say if this was a prefinished floor, and if so you may obtain a touch up kit form the manufacturer. But if it’s a site finished floor, and you want further instructions on staining and touching up let me know.