This tutorial is for pre-finished hardwood floors. On engineered / pre-finished hardwood floors, there is a very thick layer of polyurethane covering the stained wood. This is different from wood floors that have been stained in place (or even refinished). You may have success using some of this method on other types of flooring but I do not recommend moving forward until you have consulted with a professional.
Repair Water Damage On Hardwood Floors
Before we get started, I want to note the difference between surface damage and penetrative damage. Surface damage refers to damage that has occurred only to the finish of the wood finish but has not penetrated the actual wood planks. The most frequent case of this type of damage is condensation from house plants.
THIS METHOD IS NOT RECOMMENDED - AND WILL NOT WORK - FOR WOOD PLANKS THAT HAVE RECEIVED LONG-TERM, PENETRATIVE MOISTURE. Floors that have been submerged in water (such as during flooding) cannot be repaired by a homeowner. They will need to be reviewed by a professional to determine the best methods for repair.
This is also the case for flooring that has received long-term exposure to water from leaking appliances and bathroom fixtures. Do not attempt to repair this damage without first consulting a professional to insure your flooring is thoroughly dry and without rot. Rotting wood cannot be fixed and will need to be replaced. If you move forward with this method on a floor that has not properly dried, you will further damage you floors by trapping the moisture inside the wood.
Step One: Confirm your wood flooring plank has not been penetrated. Surface damage will cause the top layers of varnish to peel back. The result will be a flakey appearance that will look white in some spots while darker in others. You may also see a “rippling” effect in the finish.
To confirm that your hardwood was not penetrated by moisture, take a scraper across the surface to gently remove the peeling varnish. If your scraper begins to penetrate or flake off chunks of the wood - no matter how small - stop straight away and call in a professional. This is indicative of wood rot and you cannot use this method to repair your flooring.
Once you’ve confirmed no wood is coming loose, you may continue scraping the varnish until no additional flakes appear.
Step Two: Vacuum the loose varnish, using a detail or upholstery brush and light pressure.
Step Three: Use a coarse brush or paddle to remove any additional flakes.
Step Four: Gently sand with a 120 grit sandpaper. A palm sander can be used, but don’t apply much pressure. Sand only the areas with affected varnish. Don’t sand in a circular pattern. Rather, run your sander lightly with the grain.
Step Five: Vacuum all dust and residue, using your upholstery or crevice detail attachment.
Your surface should now be smooth. If it’s not, repeat steps 1 - 5 until it is smooth to the touch.
Step Six: Using a small detail craft brush or a clean rag, apply your stain + poly in one to the now unfinished flooring spots. Apply in the direction of the grain.
Allow to dry 12 hours. Then repeat process until the refinished spot looks as closely in color to your existing flooring.
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