Floor Restoration After a Flood — Repair or Replace?

After a rainstorm or leak has flooded your commercial space, you need a game plan for restoring or replacing your flooded floors. Remove the excess water in your facility as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Before doing any restoration work yourself, shut off the power supply and wear protective equipment on your face, hands and feet.

If you need to recover from a natural disaster, you don’t have to handle this burden alone. Contact a local restoration company that is familiar with the process to save time and money. Use this guide to make wise, safe choices for moving forward after a flooded floor and bringing your floors back to good shape.

How to Take Care of Subfloors After a Flood

The water-damaged subfloors need as much attention as the hardwood, carpeting, linoleum, stone or tile on top of them. Since long-term water damage to the subfloor will most likely ruin them, make sure they’re thoroughly dry before repairing your flooring material. Find out what type of subfloors you have in your commercial building to discover the level of care you need to give them.

Types of Subfloors:

  • Plywood subfloors: If your oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood subfloors separate or swell after coming in contact with excess water, you’ll need to replace them. After you remove the floor covering, dry the subflooring before determining the damage level. It could take months for the floors to dry naturally, but you can use a dehumidifier to speed up the process so it only takes a few days. Check the dry subfloor for warping or other signs of deterioration and consult a restoration specialist.
  • Concrete subfloors: You won’t need to replace subfloors made from concrete, but you should dry them before changing your floor covering. Professional restoration companies may use various types of equipment to remove the excess humidity in the air and help the concrete flooring dry more quickly.

After you have a flood in your commercial building, expert technicians will often follow these steps to fix your plywood subfloors.

Repair Your Flooded Plywood Subfloors

  • Label repair areas: They’ll use chalk to mark areas with rot or warping so they can make an exact cut through the subfloor’s damaged part, including the floor joists. A stud finder will help them accurately locate the floor joists.
  • Cut subflooring: After making their mark, they’ll cut out the damaged areas of the subfloor by following the chalk lines with a circular saw, cutting close to the joists in the floor.
  • Get rid of rotted materials: The specialist will then pry up the water-damaged subflooring, working slowly to reduce splintering. They’ll remove the loose nails and throw all the rotted materials into heavy-duty trash bags, using a shop vac to remove excess debris.
  • Assess the quality of the floors: After the subfloors have dried, the specialist will inspect them for extensive deterioration, such as mold, mildew or rot. They have experience with mold remediation and can save you and your team from the risk of doing it yourself.
  • Reinforce floor joists: Once they can confirm that your subfloors are clean and in good condition, they can reinforce your worn floor joists. They’ll often use wooden panels or lumber blocks to provide extra support to these foundational components.
  • Install your new subflooring: If you only need to repair a small piece of your subfloors, the restoration specialist will measure the required material and cut it to fit. They should allow a slight gap beside the old subflooring, so the new wood can acclimate to its environment. Finally, they’ll fasten the panels to the ground with galvanized nails or deck screws.

Should Carpet Be Replaced After Water Damage?

Carpeting that has been wet for a prolonged period can be harmful to your respiratory health. If you discover the flooding and take the proper steps to remove the moisture quickly, you might be able to save your carpeting, but if it’s been sitting in the water for a few days, you might want to invest in new material.

During a flood, your carpeting may come into contact with any of the following types of water.

Types of Flooded Water

  • Clean water: Your commercial building may encounter this type of water from a broken pipe or rainstorm. If the carpet has been wet for less than two days with water without contaminants, you can easily keep it after a thorough cleaning.
  • Greywater: You may have greywater on your carpet from a sump pump failure or overflows from toilets or dishwashers. This type of water is contaminated and can be dangerous for your health. Even though you could save the carpet after sanitizing it, you would need to replace the carpet padding underneath it.
  • Blackwater: The worst type of flooding you can get is from blackwater, which contains harmful waste and materials. Sewage problems, seawater flooding or hurricanes could bring blackwater into your company’s office space. You’ll need to replace your carpeting if it has come into contact with this highly contaminated water.

If you’re not sure what type of water is in your commercial space, you should entrust carpeting restoration to the professionals, especially if you notice any visible stains on the surface. You can remove the excess water and treat your carpeting if you know it’s safe. Follow these steps for handling the flood damage in any rooms with carpeting.

How to Clean Carpeted Floors After a Flood

  • Clear the area: Remove the furniture from your carpets, especially wet items that can further ruin your flooring. Avoid walking in the contaminated area until your carpets are dry and clean, because foot traffic could remove the adhesive backing from wet carpet fibers.
  • Dry the floor: Eliminateexcess water from the area with a wet/dry vacuum. To prevent harmful mildew and mold from growing in your carpet, dry out the soaked material with fans and dehumidifiers. Keep windows open and machines blowing on the floor for a few days to dry your carpet thoroughly.
  • Clean the carpet: Shampoo and steam your water-damaged carpet to sanitize it and further guard against fungi growth. Deep clean the carpeting with a solution made from bleach and water, protecting your hands with rubber gloves.

Does Carpet Need to Be Replaced After a Flood?

It might be best to replace your carpeting if you find any signs of mold or mildew in the fibers or padding. Even if you don’t have to replace the carpet itself, you should change your carpet padding.

How to Dry a Wood Floor After a Water Leak

If you want to save your hardwood floors, treat them within a few hours of coming into contact with floodwater. Consider these factors to determine the best way to take care of the wooden floors in your commercial building:

  • Wood species: Your commercial building’s flooring might feature various types of wood, each of which has a different moisture resistance level. If the wood species absorbs water quickly, like pine or redwood, you might have to replace the floors.
  • Laminate or hardwood: Laminate is moisture resistant, but it’s difficult to dry when excess water seeps under the flooring. The water under wood laminate flooring gets stuck there because of its vapor barrier, so you’ll have to replace it. Since it’s a cost-effective material, you could save money by replacing it instead of trying to restore it.
  • Installation method: The nails that may hold your hardwood panels together could rust when exposed to water. Moisture from a flood may loosen the adhesive of a glued floor. Tongue and groove hardwood flooring or a floating type floor might cup when they absorb water.
  • Finished or unfinished: If your hardwood flooring has a polyurethane or wax finish, you’ll have to remove the outer coating before you dry it so the moisture can evaporate efficiently. These finishes might crack if the hardwood floors buckle because of the wood’s movement. After you completely dry the floor, you’ll need to refinish it.

Drying Hardwood Floors After a Flood

  • Get rid of wet items in the room:Bring any wet furniture outside or into another room while drying the floors and subfloors. It would be best to move them to a waterproof area or place a covering under the furniture. If you have carpet above your hardwood floor, get rid of the carpet and padding before treating the wood.
  • Dry the floors and subfloors: Moisture can seep into hardwood floors as quickly as one day, so you need to act fast if you’re going to save your flooring. Use a dehumidifier to try removing all the moisture from the room, and increase the ventilation with fans and open windows to prevent mold growth. Even with a dehumidifier, hardwood flooring may take a week or more to dry.
  • Clean the floors:Scrub the floors with a non-abrasive brush and mild detergent while running the dehumidifiers and fans. Rinse the floors with clean water and wait for them to dry.
  • Analyze the condition of your flooring: Once they’re dry and clean, you can inspect your floors for mold, discoloration or crowning in the center. If you notice any severe depreciation in their quality, you should consult a flooring professional or carpenter.
  • Remove water stains from wood floors: Buff the stained area with a soft cloth, running it with the grain to prevent scratching. If you notice stains from water residue within the wood, use a blow dryer on the low setting to remove any water left behind. Then, apply an oil-based furniture polish and have your floors refinished.

Should You Restore or Replace Stone Floors After Flooding?

After you’ve experienced water damage from a flood or burst pipe in your commercial building, it might be challenging to determine whether to repair or replace your stone floors. Most stones are resistant to moisture, but they could have mold or etching under the surface. Follow these tips for assessing the quality of any flooring made from marble or other types of stone:

  • Clean the grime off the floors: Scrub your floors with a disinfecting cleaner to remove mud, dirt and silt from the surface so you can identify any problems.
  • Restore stone that has lost its shine: Stone flooring can etch or develop patches after prolonged contact with water. Consult a professional restoration company to restore its radiance, and refinish it with the appropriate products and equipment for your specific stone species.
  • Treat stains with care: If the stone is still wet, you may notice darker areas around the material. It might not dry out completely for at least a month, but you may need to replace floors that are still dark after that time has passed. During your consultation with the restoration company, mention any known sources of the stains on your stone tiles.
  • Expect calcium deposits: White powder may form on the surface of your stone floors as they dry. You could dust, mop or vacuum the powder, but consult a professional if the problem persists.
  • Replace if there are cracks: Check the floors for cracks, such as gaps or holes, after completely drying them — these would signal a need for replacement. Otherwise, you can clean and reseal the floors with a specialized sealant for the specific material.

Recovering Tile Floors From Water Damage

Tile is the easiest to repair after a flood because of its high moisture resistance. You can also remove one damaged piece at a time instead of the whole floor. When it comes to recovering tiles, you should also pay attention to the subfloors that provide a quality foundation for them.

Take these precautions to analyze the tile floors in your commercial property:

  • Get rid of surface water:Remove excess water with a shop vacuum. Wear a pair of rubber gloves while working with water, since you don’t know what waste could be present.
  • Clean the tile floor: Take mild detergent with a stiff brush and scrub the entire surface to get rid of salt, grime or dirt. You can treat a small amount of mold on the tile with trisodium phosphate (TSP), but if you have extensive mold damage, you should contact a remediation specialist.
  • Let the floor dry: Open the doors and windows to increase the airflow and allow the floors to dry naturally. To speed up the process, you could also use a dehumidifier.
  • Inspect the subfloors: Replace the tile floors if the submerged wood subfloor separates or swells. Consult a professional to replace your tile floors if they have asbestos in them.

If you notice loose tiles and cracked grout after the flood, contact your restoration specialist to figure out ways to replace or reinstall the flooring.

How to Restore Linoleum Floors After a Flood

Linoleum can lose its quality after coming in contact with excess water, but if you notice the flood immediately, you might be able to avoid replacing it. Along with the linoleum floors, you should also inspect the subfloor for mold and discoloration. To restore your linoleum floors:

  • Completely dry the area: Immediately remove the linoleum from the subfloor and dry it with a fan and shop vac. Get rid of the moisture in the subfloor with a dehumidifier and fan before it rots.
  • Analyze the surface of your floors: If your linoleum floors have stains or spots of faded colors, you’ll need to replace them.

Trust the Experts at URI to Restore Your Building

If you’ve had a flood in your commercial building, our team at Unlimited Restoration will analyze the damage and follow the entire water damage restoration process, from assessment to insurance coverage. Even if you haven’t had a flood, we’ll provide disaster relief training to prepare your company for the worst.

We specialize in water extraction and structural drying and dehumidification for your floors, ensuring your facility is free of mold growth, even after a harsh rainstorm. For more information about our services, contact us online or call 888-327-9664.


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