Water Damage Restoration: Saving And Cleaning Wood Furniture

Posted on: 24 June 2015

It can be devastating to go through a flood in the home, especially if many of your personal belongings are damaged beyond repair. The first step to getting back on your feet involves calling a water damage contractor. Once the majority of the water is gone, you need to start thinking about whether or not you can save some of your furniture pieces. Some things may need to be thrown away, and others will require a bit of elbow grease to restore them to their original condition. If you have a wood furniture item that you are hoping you can restore, then keep reading to learn how you can determine if the piece can be saved and what you can do to restore it afterwards.

Can the Wood Item be Saved?

Understanding Wood Warping

If you have a wooden cabinet, table, or other piece of furniture that has been damaged by flood waters in the home, then you need to inspect the piece thoroughly. One of the main things you need to look for is warping across the wood. As wood dries, it releases moisture. The amount of moisture that lies in a newly felled piece of lumber depends on the type of wood and whether the wood was taken near the center or exterior of the tree. You can expect a piece of wood to contain somewhere around 28% water by volume. Woodworkers wait until the wood contains less than 19% water before a piece of furniture is created. 

As the water leaves the piece of wood, the tissues shift and parts of the wood may crack. The initial shifting causes the wood to twist or bend, and uneven areas of the lumber are sanded away so that only straight pieces are used to make the furniture. This needs to occur once the wood is dry, because you cannot guess how the wood will bend. Unfortunately, this same sort of warping or bending process occurs as a piece of furniture absorbs water and then begins to dry out once again.

Inspecting for Damage

Warped pieces of wood furniture are often quite obvious with previously straight pieces that look bent, cracked, or uneven. Fasteners may no longer hold the joints together, and joints may suddenly look uneven or hold edges together at odd angles. Legs may no longer fit in place either, and furniture will likely wiggle back and forth or up and down if pressure is placed on it. If you see these water damage signs, then consider getting rid of the item. If not, then start to restore the piece.

Restoring Wood Furniture

Drying and Cleaning

Once you have determined that a piece of furniture can be saved, get rid of the majority of the leftover water by placing a dehumidifier in the room with the piece for two or three days. The appliance will help to pull water from the air as it evaporates from the wood. This is best to minimize air saturation around the piece so the wood can dry out as quickly as possible. After the majority of the leftover water has been released, sprinkle baking soda over the piece to get rid of the rest.

Inspect the wood at this time to see if mold and mildew are present across the surface of the wood. If you see a green tinge, then use a 50% mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down the wood. Clean the piece with warm water and dish soap afterwards. Thoroughly towel dry the piece.

Buffing and Finishing

At this time, you may see white marks on the wood. This indicates that water has seeped under the protective polyurethane coating. Leave the piece to dry for several more days or use a hair dryer on the warm setting to get rid of the rest of the moisture. Some water marks will still remain, and you will need to buff them out with a piece of steel wool. A piece of 0000 steel wool is best for this.

You do not want to use the wool alone though, or fine scratches may appear on the wood. Dip the wool in some wood, tung, China, or Lumbang oil to prevent this. You also may need to add a new layer of polyurethane wood sealer to the surface of the wood once the cleaning and restoration process is over.

For more information and tips on restoring your furniture or other items in your house, work with an experienced water damage restoration company.