With parts of Queensland and New South Wales experiencing damaged floods, now is a good time to consider what that might mean for your timber floors. We’ve put together a quick guide on how to deal with flooded timber to get you started.
First steps on how to deal with flooded timber
How you deal with a flooded wooden floor will depend, of course, on the floor itself, but there’s a few steps everyone should take, regardless of the method or material.
Your safety is absolutely paramount. Contact a licensed electrician to ensure the building is safe to enter and be mindful of things such as structural damage and trip hazards.
If your home is insured, you should also contact your insurer before entering and before making any changes to the property. Make sure you keep a detailed log of damages and take plenty of photographs.
Now, let’s look at a few common flooring types and how you can deal with those specific flooded timbers.
Fixing flooded timber | Floor types
Floating engineered, bamboo, and laminate timber floors
Generally speaking, this type of flooring will not survive flood damage. It will likely have to be removed and replaced entirely.
Timber floors laid on particle board or plywood subfloors fixed to floor joists
While it is unlikely that the floor itself will be salvageable, the particleboard or plywood sub-floors may be able to be dried out and saved.
Mud and silt should be quickly removed, and any remaining surface water dried with towels or a wet and dry vacuum cleaner. Dehumidifiers may also help gradually and consistently dry the floor.
If you’re considering saving the sub-floor, be sure to get an expert opinion. A professional will be able to take into account any damage – whether from the flooding or from the removal of the timber floor above – as well as assess overall safety and structural integrity.
Solid timber floors directly fixed to floor joists
While there’s a chance this type of floor might be saved, there’s still a lot to consider before making that call.
Once the floors have been dried using the method mentioned above, you’ll need to examine the floor carefully. You might have water trapped beneath the timbers, which will worsen them over time. Also, different types of wood absorb more moisture than others, so you might find your floors have taken in more water than you expect. There’s also a possibility of aesthetic issues or squeaky floors.
Drying and recovery can take up to six months, depending on when the flooding happened, and adequate ventilation is required throughout the process. During this time, you’ll be able to fully explore the damage done, and an expert can advise you on how best to proceed.
Timber floors over concrete slabs
In this instance, it’s expected that the floor itself will need to be removed. If the slab is deemed salvageable, you can explore options for a new floor once it has been cleaned, dried, and well ventilated. It is recommended that a moisture vapour barrier is installed to protect new timbers from any residual water in the slab.
Prevention is better than cure
We can’t control the weather, but we can do our best to prepare for it – and this is certainly true of the flooring we choose.