Water leakage is a hardwood flooring owner’s worst nightmare. When a puddle is left soaking into the wood for a long time, it results in a light or dark stain. Such a mark will be impossible to remove through a simple surface cleaning alone. If you find water stains on your hardwood floors, first speak with an expert flooring contractor like this Nashville flooring company to decide the best course of action to rejuvenate your particular type of wood flooring and finish. Most likely, they will recommend taking the following steps.
Locate the Water Source
Before anything else can happen, you need to find out where the water came from. The most common sources of water damage are faulty household appliances. Check to see if the stains are within a short radius of any machines that handle water, such as dishwashers, refrigerators, ice makers and washers. If so, you’ll want to perform a maintenance check-up to fix the leakage immediately before it causes more damage.
Your pet is another likely culprit behind the stains on your hardwood floors. Your fur baby may have had an accident that went unnoticed for a while. Frequent treat-based training, pee pads, proper placement and maintenance of litter boxes, and the redress of any stressors to your pet will help minimize these accidents in the future. Wet shoes may also cause water to pool around your doorways. Make sure to place floor mats around all entrances to your home, and consider setting up a shoe rack to keep shoes off the floor entirely.
Treat the Finish
Your next step forward depends on how deep the water soaked into the flooring. If the water stain only seeped into the finish, then you’re in luck! You only need to repair the finish and not the wood itself. To do this, gently rub the area with extra-fine 000 steel wool and floor wax. Make sure to also rub the areas around the spot to blend the coloring. If that didn’t quite do the trick, try sanding down the finish with sandpaper instead. Alternatively, you can soak the stain in vinegar or bleach. After an hour, rinse away the vinegar or bleach with a damp microfiber cloth.
Treat the Wood
Let’s say you completely sand down the finish until the wood is exposed, but the stain is still visible. This means that the water penetrated the protective finish layer and saturated the wood underneath. Water stains in the finish tend to be lighter in color, whereas water damage in wood takes on a darker color. In this case, you can choose between the following three cleaning chemicals to remove the water stain from the wood.
Vinegar and bleach are suitable not only for the finish, but for the wood, too. However, unlike the finish, don’t leave these chemicals sitting in direct contact with the wood for an hour. Soak a cloth in vinegar, apply it to the affected wood for ten minutes, and then rinse it with another cloth dampened with water.
Bleach is a much more powerful chemical and should be mixed into a solution of four parts water to one part bleach. Apply the solution-dampened cloth multiple times, if need be, using a more concentrated solution each round.
Hydrogen peroxide is an option that tends to be more gentle than bleach. On the other hand, that also means it may be less effective. Create a solution of two parts water to two parts hydrogen peroxide, and follow the same instructions of dabbing the area with a damp cloth.
Replace the Wood
If the water stain runs so deeply into the wood that sanding and chemical cleanings don’t work, then you may need to replace the wood altogether. Remove all the stained planks, as well as any that are warped or surrounding the water stain. Even if there is no apparent damage to the surrounding wood planks, it’s possible that the water damage spread in all directions underneath them. Once the planks are taken out, check the exposed plywood sublayer for water damage as well. Remove this layer if the water stains appear here, too. Finally, the base floor will need to dry out for a few days before new flooring can be re-installed on top.
Once those ugly water stains are gone, the final step is to re-apply your finish and buff the area to a brilliant shine. When spills occasionally occur, your high-quality finish will help protect the underlying wood and flooring layers. With new precautions in place to care for your hardwood floors, rest assured that your prized hardwood floors will avoid prolonged water exposure again.