Laminate Flooring: Saving Laminate Flooring After a Flood or Water Damage
You may think of spring as a time for flowers and sunshine, but it is also the start of flood season. As the snow melts across the country, it causes rivers to rise and can result in flooding. Flooding happens in every state, even if you live in an area that doesn’t get snow. If water damage or flooding affects your laminate flooring, there are a few steps you can take to save it from rot and mold. By acting quickly, you increase the chances of saving your laminate flooring after water damage.
Can You Save Laminate Flooring Damaged By Flood Waters?
Laminate flooring is made of high-density fiberboard. Also called “hardboard”, high-density fiberboard is an engineered wood product similar to particle board. While it is often more resistant to daily wear than other types of flooring, it is still a wood product. Wood and water are a combination that usually results in damage. The wood can deteriorate and mold is likely to grow.
Saving laminate flooring after a flood depends on a number of factors. First, how much water was involved? The lower the amount of water, the more likely you can salvage your flooring. Next is how long the water sat on your laminate flooring. If it was only there for a short time, your chances of saving it are good. However, the likelihood you can save it decreases the longer the water was in contact with the floor.
Another factor is the type of water involved. In most cases, flooding means groundwater flooding from outside your home. However, it could also mean flooding with clean water from a water supply line inside your home. It could even mean a sewage backup. Saving flooring impacted by clean water is much easier than flooring damaged by groundwater. Unforntaly, it is nearly impossible to save flooring damaged by sewage.
How to Dry Laminate Flooring After a Flood
The best way to dry laminate flooring after a flood is to remove it completely. This allows you to dry the sections individually, which is much faster than drying the entire floor at once. Plus, removing the boards from the floor increases airflow, which also speeds drying.
Begin by extracting the standing water. For shallow water, use a mop or sponge to soak up the water. For deep water, use a bucket or a pump to remove it from the area. Then use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up as much water as possible.
Then remove the boards from the floor and move them to a clean, dry area. If possible, prop them up off the ground to increase airflow. However, make sure to keep them flat to prevent warping or bending. Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry them as quickly as possible. Flip the boards regularly and reposition fans as necessary to facilitate drying.
While the laminate boards are drying, remove any remaining water from the subflooring. Start by using a wet/dry vacuum, then switch to fans to thoroughly dry the area. Once the boards and the subflooring are dry, use a disinfectant to prevent mold and odors. Chlorine bleach may stain some laminate flooring, so we recommend using a hospital grade sanitizer. Finally, you can reinstall your laminate flooring.
Know When to Replace Laminate Flooring After a Flood
Unfortunately, you cannot always save your laminate flooring after a flood. If the flood contained sewage or the floodwaters sat for several days, you should always dispose of and replace your laminate flooring.
If the flooring was completely submerged in floodwaters for more than a few hours, the chances of saving it are low. Complete the cleanup procedure outlined above, but take special care to inspect each board closely.
Look for signs of warping, splitting, swelling, cracking, or deterioration. When in doubt, it’s best to remove and replace damaged flooring, as it can continue to deteriorate over time.
Dealing with Other Types of Flooring After a Flood
After laminate flooring, vinyl flooring has become one of the most popular types of flooring in the last decade. In most cases, it is easier to install than laminate flooring and just as resilient to wear and tear. If your vinyl flooring is damaged in a flood or another type of water damage, you can clean it using the same process.
Vinyl Tile or Linoleum Tile
Before laminate and vinyl flooring, vinyl tile or linoleum tile was the primary alternative to hardwood floors. If your vinyl tile is damaged in a flood, it’s likely the glue will separate from the subflooring. While you can reglue the tiles down, entire tiles don’t always come up neatly. They often leave small pieces stuck to the subfloor. It can also be a problem matching the pattern of older tile. Linoleum tile is often even trickier to deal with. Clean and dry the tile in place and, if possible, replace damaged tiles with new materials.
If the damage is especially severe or was caused by sewage, you should replace the tile completely. This isn’t always possible, so you may need to cut out the tile and subfloor entirely. You can then install a new subfloor and the flooring of your choice. Another option is to encapsulate the tile with a plastic barrier and then install new flooring over top. While this will prevent contaminants from spreading, the subfloor and tile may still deteriorate over time causing your new flooring to become bumpy or lumpy.
Many older homes have solid hardwood flooring. If your hardwood floors are damaged as a result of a flood or water damage, remove the standing water as outlined above. Then use a wet/dry vacuum to remove as much excess water as possible. Since you cannot remove it, use fans and dehumidifiers to dry it in place. Once it’s completely dry, you can clean and disinfect it using a cleaner designed for hardwood floors.
In some cases, you may need to sand the flooring. Afterward, you can stain or seal it to ensure it lasts many more years. In very rare cases, it will be necessary to replace the flooring completely. This is common if the floodwaters contained sewage or your flooring remained wet for an extended period.
Find a Water Damage Restoration Company Near You With Restoration Local
If you have water damaged laminate flooring or any other type of water damage, Restoration Local can help. We’re the nation’s #1 network of restoration contractors. We have hundreds of water damage contractors in our directory, including major chains and franchises like AdvantaClean, Paul Davis, and PuroClean as well as independent water damage restoration companies.
For immediate water damage restoration service, call 1-888-443-3110 to talk with our on-call restoration contractor in your area. Our on-call partners offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response, and a free estimate. You can also review all of the companies in our directory and select a water damage company near you.