Water Damaged Floor Repair: Cost and Fixing Tips

Water and moisture are the banes of almost all floors and houses in general. Not only can it ruin the look of your floors, but it can also cause severe structural damage. That’s why you should address water damage as soon as possible, even if it’s expensive. If you don’t, it’ll only get more expensive as time goes on. This article is all about this topic, with tips and cost estimation for floor repairs. Hopefully, it’ll help you prepare and come to a better decision regarding moisture-damaged floor rehabbing – whether to repair or replace the floor entirely. Let’s get into it!

Water Damaged Floor Repair Cost

These are approximate cost estimations for floor repairs where the water damage has occurred. You’ll notice that repairing floors is more expensive than simply replacing them. In some cases, as with hardwood flooring, tiles, and polished concrete, it will probably be worth going for repairs. You’ll probably find better long-term value in replacing water-damaged vinyl, laminate, engineered wood, or carpet flooring, especially since synthetic flooring can trap moisture beneath it and ruin the subfloor and floor joists.

Material  Repair Cost
Engineered Wood $7.50 to $16.00 per square foot
Laminate $6 to $9 per square foot
Vinyl / Linoleum $6 to $7.50 per square foot
Carpet $4.50 to $7.75 per square foot
Tile $10 to $15.00 per square foot
Polished Concrete $7 to $10 per square foot

Hardwood Floor Water Damage Repair Cost 

Repairing water-damaged floors costs $8 to $30 per square foot, depending on how complicated the job is and what kind of wood you’re using for flooring. Repairing hardwood floors is often just as expensive as replacing the floor entirely, but it is less intrusive and can be a more gradual process if you’re on a tight budget.

Money-Saving Tips for Fixing Water Damaged Floors 

The first money-saving tip for fixing water-damaged floors is that repairing will be more expensive than replacing per square foot. With cheap materials like vinyl or laminate, it’s usually not worth it to try to repair the floor. That’s especially true if the water damage covers a large part of the floor area – whether in one or several locations.

One of the easier ways to save money when fixing floors damaged by water is to remove the affected material yourself. Material removal does two things. First, it may allow more air to circulate and make the moisture evaporate faster. You can also look to see if anything underneath the flooring needs urgent care, in addition to the water damage. Second, it’ll save you the fee a professional would charge for the removal of the water-damaged flooring.

If you decide to go this route, be careful not to damage the surrounding flooring, subfloor, or joists as you’re removing the affected flooring.

You could, in theory, save a lot of money by fixing the floor and replacing what needs to be replaced by yourself. However, a professional will usually do a better job of integrating the repaired section into the surrounding area. That goes for both visual (color) and functional (fit and preventing cracks and gaps) integration. If you’re hiring a professional to do the job, ask for a quote to get a cost estimation for floor repair so that you can find the best price. 

Hardwood Floor Water Damage Repair Tips

If you act fast, some (but not all) water damage to hardwood floors can be reversed or fixed without needing to replace anything. The following are repair tips for hardwood flooring issues, like warping, stains, spots, cupping, etc.

Cupping is when the underside of your hardwood floorboards holds more moisture than the top. This causes the board to curl upwards into a cup-like form. If left unaddressed, this will become permanent, but there are some things you can do to prevent and fix cupping. First, you should not introduce any more moisture to the floor, such as wet mopping. Second, you can run a dehumidifier in the affected area. Third, if you’re worried that the damage is serious and you have a crawl space underneath the floor, you can remove a floorboard at either end of the room, place a fan inside, and turn it out to promote air circulation and drying.

Stains can be removed, and there are many “folk” methods to do so. However, we’ll look at only two. If you’ve just spilled some water or it hasn’t been on the hardwood floor for long, soak up the water as quickly as possible. Buff it out with a dry cloth. If you still see a mark or are worried that the water has soaked in, you can use a blow-dryer on the lowest setting to carefully evaporate the remaining moisture. “Carefully” is key because you can turn a water stain into a heat mark. If necessary, go over the area with an appropriate polish.

If the moisture stain has set into the wood, you can try using commercial wood bleach to remove it. You will have to remove the finish first, after which you can apply the wood bleach to the stain with a brush. Let it work for 4 hours, then neutralize the bleach with a 2:1 mixture of water and vinegar. Let the area dry. If the stain is still there, you can try again. Afterward, refinish the wood, and with some skill and some luck, it’ll look as good as new.

Warping or buckling is caused by water getting in from either above or below. If the warp is small, you might be able to fix it by slightly wetting the area, placing something heavy on top, and leaving it there for a day or two. If that doesn’t work, you may be able to remove the warp by aggressively sanding it down. Keep in mind, though, that this will cause the floorboard to lose thickness. Neither of these is a real solution, though, if the moisture source is still there and left unaddressed. 

When to Replace Subfloor from Water Damage

It’s time to think about replacing your subfloor if:

  • Your floors are uneven or sunken.
  • Walking around on the floors feels “spongy” or “bouncy.”
  • The room and floor smell moldy or mildewy. That’s a sign that rot has set in.
  • Your hardwood floor is cupping, your laminate floor is warping, or your linoleum floors are bubbling up. This may be moisture damage coming from the bottom.
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