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How Do I Repair a Water-Damaged Floor?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2014
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There are many steps a person much take to repair a water-damaged floor and it is almost impossible to determine how many of them will be necessary before examining the extent of the damage. Sometimes water damage will be absorbed within carpeting and not affect the sub-floor at all, but there are often cases where the repair becomes much more extensive. In worst-case scenarios, homeowners may be forced to cut out the sub-floor or even replace damaged support beams. While there will be a large amount of dust involved, this is a project that almost any amateur handyman can complete over a long weekend.

To repair a water-damaged floor, the first step would be to remove any carpeting, tile, or hardwood so that the bare sub-floor is visible. If the damaged area is relatively small, there are essentially two options available; cut out the water-logged area and replace it with bracing underneath, or replace the entire sheet of plywood. Each method will require a comparable amount of time, so it is difficult to say which method is easier, but replacing the entire section of lumber is definitely the more complete solution.

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Once the outer layer has been removed, inspect the rafters underneath the section whenever possible to mark where each cut should be made. Many professionals will simply use a drill from underneath a home to mark the sections to be removed. After these areas are marked, simply saw through the plywood or particle board to remove the damaged section while keeping the individual cuts perfectly square to one another. When cutting along a mounting beam, it is essential to use a blade that will cut through the damaged sub-flooring only. If extra support is required before the new section of lumber is lowered in place, this can be accomplished by attaching it to the existing beams below the structure to further repair a water-damaged floor.

One of the most common mistakes made by homeowners when it comes to replacing a water-damaged floor is not making repairs immediately, and this delay can often result in a much more difficult situation. If the sub-floor is, in fact, damaged from flooding, it will become a beacon for species like termites and carpenter ants. By the time these insects begin gnawing through damaged wood, they will quickly spread into healthy, treated lumber to expand the colony, so it is essential that you repair a water-damaged floor as quickly as possible. In severe cases where insects were a factor, floors have collapsed within months of the water damage taking place.

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