How to save water-damaged oak flooring

Oak wood flooring is a timeless and beautiful addition to any home, but it can be highly susceptible to water damage. What, if anything, can you do to salvage oak flooring that might have been damaged by water?

How to save water-damaged oak flooring

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Firstly, it is important to note that genuine oak flooring can easily be distorted by high humidity levels; for this reason, it is not recommended for use in bathrooms or kitchens. A report in Better Homes and Gardens suggests that tile, vinyl and bamboo are some of the best options for these rooms; alternatively, if you would like a wooden effect flooring, opt for laminate. Oak engineered flooring is crafted differently – only a minimal top layer of the board is actually made of oak – and the effects of humidity might not be as great.

Board width

If an engineered oak floorboard has become damaged through excess water damage, the first thing to do is examine the damage in terms of width distortion. If the board has a convex (pointing upwards) or concave (dipping downwards) appearance in the centre, this can render the boards unusable. Use a tape measure to check the width of the boards and assess the overall damage.

Removing water marks

If the width of the boards has remained stable, this is a good indication that the board is salvageable; however, water can leave unsightly marks. Sanding the top layer of the board is a good way to remove or at least lessen the appearance of dark stains and water marks. Use a mid-duty sandpaper to gently buff away the top layer of the wood.

How to save water-damaged oak flooring2

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After sanding, it can be a good idea to apply a high-quality finish to the boards to further mask and blend any existing water marks. There are a range of wood staining products available on the market from stockists such as, but darker tones tend to be best for covering up noticeable marks. Use an oil-based finishing wax to prevent further damage to the boards.

Ultimately, the possibility of repairing water-damaged oak flooring depends on the level of damage sustained. Where boards have been fully distorted, it is much trickier; however, if it is just a case of covering up marks, there is no reason why your boards cannot be restored and even improved.

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