Is there a more heart-sinking feeling than coming home to find there has been a flood at your home?
Whether it was a storm, a leak, or a burst water pipe, finding your possessions water damaged can be really upsetting, not to mention expensive.
But fear not!
Water damaged wood does not have to be the end of the world. It often looks worse than it is. And if you’ve just discovered the flood, you’ve probably caught it in time before any permanent damage has been done.
But more often than not, water damaged furniture can be restored quite easily.
Want to know how?
Follow this guide on how to fix water-damaged wood and you should be able to return your damaged possessions to as good as new.
Make Sure the Flooding Has Stopped
It might sound obvious, but if you’re about to try and restore water damaged wood, the last thing you want is to get it wet again.
Whether it was a leak or weather damage, before you start working on your water damaged wood, make sure no more flood water can reach the item.
Wet carpets or rugs can seep into furniture, and even a slow drip from a leaking pipe can set you straight back to square one.
Dry the Wood Thoroughly
There’s no point attempting to restore your water damaged wood if it’s still wet.
Depending on how bad the flooding was, water damaged wood can take quite a while to dry, so you may need to be patient.
Firstly, wipe off any excess surface water. If you have warm weather, you can place the furniture in the sun to dry. If not, put the piece of furniture in a warm, dry room with good ventilation.
If you have a dehumidifier, you can put that in the room. Otherwise, turning the heating on and placing a fan in the room will work just as well.
It’s important the drying wood is neither too hot nor too cold. If it’s too cold, mold can form on the damp surface. If the temperature is too warm, the water damaged wood can dry too quickly and may warp or crack.
Clean Any Mold or Mildew
Mold and mildew can be stubborn to remove. But it’s important that you do remove it. Not only does it look unpleasant and can damage your wood, but it’s also bad for your health.
Mold and mildew can appear as black spots, or anything ranging from green slime to orange spores
To clean off the mildew, mix a cap of bleach with half a bucket of warm water. Then scrub the affected areas. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, and avoid contact with your skin.
The mold and mildew should just scrub off. Then leave the furniture to dry.
Removing Water Stains
There are a few ways to remove water stains from wood. It depends very much on the type of wood, and how it is finished.
If the stain is light in color, it’s just a surface stain. If it’s black, it has penetrated the finish and will need a bit more work.
So, firstly, rub the affected area with an oily furniture polish. This should remove the least problematic water stains straight away.
However, if the stain is still there, you could try rubbing the stain with some toothpaste. Yes, you heard right!
Toothpaste sometimes contains a mild abrasive that can help shift stubborn stains. You can also mix regular toothpaste with baking soda, which will increase the abrasive action.
If the stain still persists, try using a mild solvent, such as an odorless paint thinner.
Dab some solvent on to a soft clean cloth, and test a tiny patch on your wood. There’s a risk it can remove the varnish or finish. If the solvent doesn’t dissolve your finish, give the stain a good rub.
After the water stain is gone, you can then wax and polish your furniture, which should restore the shine (and remove any smells of toothpaste or solvent!).
Also, you can learn more about services that can help you fix water damaged wood if you’re not confident doing it yourself.
If the methods above don’t remove the stain, it’s probably because it has gone too deep. If this is the case, you can sand the wood to remove the mark.
Use an electric sander if possible. If you don’t have one, a very fine sandpaper can work with some elbow grease.
Sand the affected area until you can no longer see the water stain. Keep stopping and checking so you don’t over-sand the wood and alter its shape.
Once you have successfully removed the stain, you can restore the finish using varnish or wax, depending on the piece of furniture.
You may need to strip the remaining varnish using a chemical stripper in order to re-varnish the whole item. Otherwise, you can end up with an obvious newly varnished patch.
Check the Joints
Before you start using your piece of furniture again, make sure you check all the joints.
If an item of furniture has been affected by flood damage, it’s possible that the joints have become warped. No one wants to sit on a chair that’s unsafe!
Give all legs and joints a good feel and test their strength. Any major repairs can be done by a carpenter or furniture maker, but just giving them a soft tap can knock them back into line.
Now You Know How to Fix Water-Damaged Wood
So those are some tips on how to fix water-damaged wood. They are all manageable steps that anyone can do at home.
If you’ve suffered a flood in your home, it’s understandable to be daunted by water damaged wood. But as you can see, it’s a relatively easy thing to fix.
But of course, don’t tackle any restoration project if you’re not comfortable doing so. The main thing is not to worry because your furniture can be restored to its former glory.
Don’t forget to check out more home advice about furniture and design.