Hardwood Athletic Floors – Water Damage

Anyone responsible for maintaining a hardwood athletic floor has heard of it or experienced it: water damage. Whether it’s from a leak in the roof, fire sprinklers that went off, rainwater or snow from an open exterior door, a burst pipe, or something worse, no one wants to see water damage. While water damage isn’t likely to happen to most floors, it does happen and it’s important to be prepared for it in order to minimize the damage.

There are three basic steps to follow.

  1. Control the source of the water (close the exterior door, seal off the burst pipe, shut off the fire sprinklers, etc.)
  2. Remove as much surface water as possible from the floor (use towels to mop up as much excess water as possible)
  3. Call a local hardwood flooring contractor to assess the floor and assist
Image from Athletic Business

Image from Athletic Business

Most of the time damage is done because no one noticed the problem soon enough or didn’t know what to do when they did notice the damage. Once the water reaches the sub-floor, the floor has a significantly smaller chance of being rescued. This is where finish comes into play. If a floor has several coats of finish on it, it has a higher chance of survival because the water can’t seep in as easily. The type of floor system also affects the amount of damage. For example, typical floating systems recover better than nailed-in systems because floating systems hold better to the sub-floor, where as once a nailed-in floor starts to come up, it loses it’s attachment to the sub-floor.

So you’ve got water damage and you’ve followed the three above steps. What happens now? The floor may be able to be dehumidified. If the floor is able to be dehumidified, it may simply need to be sanded down and refinished. If the floor isn’t able to be dehumidified, it may need to be replaced. The most important factor when dealing with a water damaged floor is time. It needs to be addressed ASAP and can take time to dry out and return to normal.

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