Hardwood Floor Buckling From Water Damage? Fix Warped Wood

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hardwood floor buckling from water damage

Hardwood flooring has a fantastic, classic look that is highly desirable in homes. It is very durable and can withstand a lot of use and abuse over many years. 

However, one of the issues with hardwood flooring is that it is not very water resistant. 

When moisture gets into wood, it is absorbed into the pores and can cause a lot of damage. This includes swelling, warping, and buckling. 

If you have a hardwood floor that has been damaged by water, it can be frustrating. Luckily, there are a few ways to fix the problem that can be very effective. 

In this article, we have laid out a few different methods for repairing water damaged hardwood floors. Depending on your situation, one of these solutions should be able to bring your floor back to its original glory. 

Fixing Warped Hardwood Floors: Basic Idea

There are a few different ways to fix water damaged hardwood floors. Depending on your situation, one or more of these solutions could do the trick. 

These methods include: 

  • Remove the source of moisture 
  • Replace the affected plank
  • Use a disinfectant 
  • Sand the edges of the wood

Why Hardwood Floor Buckles

why hardwood floor buckles

Hardwood flooring can buckle when it takes on too much moisture. 

When this happens, the wood will start to swell and gain quite a bit of size in the process. If this happens on flooring, the planks will push together and buckle. 

Hardwood flooring can sometimes buckle when water is spilled on it and it isn’t cleaned up. This can happen with even a small amount of water that is just left to dry on the plank. 

It can also happen if you have experienced a flood in your home. Large amounts of water can completely damage your hardwood flooring. 

However, one of the most common reasons for hardwood to buckle is humidity. If your hardwood has not had a chance to acclimate, it will swell when the weather gets moist. 

No matter what the reason is, buckled floors can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to repair them. 

Remove the Moisture Source 

No matter what method you plan to use to fix the floors, removing the source of moisture is essential. 

If you have a leaky pipe in the home causing water to accumulate, it is best to get it fixed. Have a professional plumber go through your system to find any sources of leaks. 

You should also measure the humidity in your home. If it is very high, dehumidifiers can pull a lot of water out of the air in a short period of time. 

You may also want to check for any leaks in your roof. 

It is possible that water is getting into the house through the roof even if you aren’t noticing drips. This will cause humidity to accumulate and can make your hardwood flooring swell. 

Replace the Planks 

If it is possible, your best bet is to replace the planks that are buckling. 

This is the best way to fix the buckling and take the steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you can, replace the planks with identical types of wood to ensure that the new planks will blend. 

You will more than likely have to sand down the area and refinish it. This is why it can be very helpful to keep extra stain and clear coat that you originally used on the floor. 

It is also helpful to buy extra hardwood flooring when you install the floor. It is recommended that you buy 20 percent more than you need to get the floor installed. 

Use Disinfectant

use disinfectantIf you only need to fix a small area of the floor, you can also use disinfectant to remove the water.

Disinfectant has water wicking characteristics that can be very effective. Make sure you are using a disinfectant that is designed to be used on hardwood floors. 

To fix the floor, simply spray the area with the approved disinfectant. Then, extract it from the plank using a wet/dry vacuum

After doing this, run fans in the room as well as a dehumidifier for at least 24 hours. 

This should be enough to get the remaining moisture out of the wood and dry it out. Once you do this, the wood should straighten out. 

Sand Down the Edges 

If your hardwood floor is only slightly buckled, you can remove it using a sander. 

When wood buckles, the edges will stick up from the surface of the floor. This is one of the main reasons people want to remove the buckling. 

If you want, you can simply sand down the buckled edges. 

To do this, start with a fine-grit sandpaper and work your way up to a harsher grit. This will ensure that you don’t further damage the floor. 

Sand the planks until you get them flush with the flooring and refinish as needed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq hardwood floor buckling from water damage

  • Will cupped hardwood floors flatten out over time?

Sometimes, cupped hardwood floors will flatten out on their own. However, this can take quite a bit of time. 

To speed up the process of finding out, you can run dehumidifiers in the room to see if the floors straighten. 

  • Will wet floorboards dry out?

Wet floorboards will usually dry out on their own. However, this is how cupping and buckling starts to happen. 

To prevent this, clean up water on hardwood floors as soon as you notice it. 

  • Does salt absorb water?

Salt will absorb water on hardwood floors. If you have spilled water or have a leak, this can be a great way to prevent it from soaking in. 

You can also use cat litter in the event of a spill and then simply sweep it up.


If your hardwood floors are buckling, the important thing is to not panic. Sometimes, flooring will straighten out on its own once the weather dries out. 

However, if it doesn’t, you can try the above methods to get your flooring back to its original state.

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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