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Sandy wood floor drying11/24
This has todo with wood flooring.From the hurricane Sandy
It will eventually stabilize, but it will never be like it was before. Being so wet, the boards will have expanded against each other and crushed the edges such that when it dries out, the boards will shrink away from each other and leave permanent gaps. I'd also expect fasteners to have loosened. So at best, you'll have a squeaky floor with gaps between the boards. If your responsibility is to make it like the flood never happened, I think you're looking at full replacement.
You need to seek the opinion of a restoration professional who specializes in salvaging wood flooring, and other woodwork.
They will have to knowledge and expertise to advise you as to the ultimate course of action that you should take. Should you decide to salvage the floor, they should be able to advise you as to the outcome of past jobs.
Without any way to examine the extent damage in person and without knowledge of other factors and variables you are not going the qualified professional advice that you need via this thread.
Personally I would plan for the worst. That may be more cost effective, rather than attempting to refinish only to end up replacing the floor. I will also bet that saltwater is going to be a major complication as well.
However I will say that I live in a house that has original flooring from the 1840s and it is as noisy as can be, deflects, and has gaps large enough to allow light through from the basement. Far from ideal but it has worked just fine for 200 years. Of course this would never be allowed in a new home, but you have to give the original builders credit as the house has lasted that long.
"Without any way to examine the extent damage in person and without knowledge of other factors and variables you are not going the qualified professional advice that you need via this thread"
If there was salt water I would be concerned about the fasteners corroding and failing or leaving stains.
I had about 2 inches of water on the floor of my shop and showroom during Irene. I was able to save the cabinetry minus toe kicks. It did help that they were sitting on a plywood applied base.
All the hardwood baseboards (soft maple) had to go, and I still have a small section that I saved which is still cupped to this day. I left all the door casings in place and there are rust stains around the galvanized 16g finish nails. This was from fresh but (silty muddy river water)
All I can say is that I am glad I went with tile instead of wood in my showroom.
I can understand why a total redo is not a desired outcome.
I would certainly communicate to the customer that you will not be able the flooring restore to the original condition, and that any attempts to salvage will be at best an effort. I think it would also be wise to bring in a third party with more experience dealing with flood damaged wood floors to give an opinion.
FWIW, I don't think electronic moisture meters are very accurate when wood is this wet. How long were these floors immersed?
Once the moisture content is back around 8% or so (i.e. in equilibrium with normal indoor humidity levels), it will be as stable as it ever was; it won't keep moving around indefinitely. Still, if the MC is that high, you're going to see a lot of shrinkage before it's done. The gaps between boards will get bigger. To the extent that the boards flatten out, they'll probably relax tension on their fasteners and become looser. I think saving these floors is a real long shot (not to dismiss Mike's comments about his 200-year-old floors; I'm just guessing that such rusticity may not be what your customers are looking for).
My experience with wet wood floors is mostly from dishwasher floods. I've yet to see one that is "good as new" after drying out and being worked as much as can be done.
I think your best course for a cost compromise might be to cut the floor out around existing cabinetry and replace with new. This isn't as hard as it used to be given new generation of flush cutting power tools. Living with small shoe mouldings around the perimeter of the newly installed floor is a small sacrifice for the huge cost savings.
I have been part of many tear outs and re-install over the years, and I don't think you want to save the floors. It didn't matter how many dehumidifiers and such, we always find/found water trapped, period. I am pretty sure the jury is out, but I would highly doubt an insurance company or you, for that matter, wants to re-finish something that can be a haven for mold. And, I would doubt if they want to be liable for that. Good luck, and I hope you the best.
My experience with flooded floors is that they don't stop moving for quite a while for a bunch of reasons. One of which is moisture trapped between the subfloor and the flooring (which often gets moldy). So you can check it with a moisture meter, sand the cup out and refinish. And in a few months have to do it again, and again. Rip it out. The possibility of mold developing should be enough to warrant removal.
I agree with finding a third party for specific advice....but I'll just add this little nugget from my experience. In my early days of going into business I had to do a small job for a unit that flooded. In this situation it was a fire sprinkler pipe that went in a 7 story building and so not nearly as severe as your storm....but still caused quite a bit of damage. A professional crew came in to do the initial clean up and drying, but repair was left to the owners.
I did a small amount of work for a good client and what we found was the water seeped up the walls well over a foot. The drywall acts like a conduit and 'pulls' the water up. Behind the drywall is where we found mold already starting to develop after only a month or so! We pulled the flooring out for as far into the unit as the water penetrated and although the top had dried the subfloor was still damp and also starting to develop mold!
So my feeling is that your cabinetry should probably come out regardless as the drywall behind it is likely to be moldy and that's just not good. And as mentioned the flooring is going to dry from the top down, so you have to figure out a way of determining if and when the bottom of the flooring is dry. I don't see a practical way of doing that without removal? However I still say bring in a third party that specializes in this.
Mold between the boards and between the flooring and subflooring will be the big deal. Even between the joists and subfloor will harbor mold. If you ever want to sell the houses, rip it out, even the subfloor. Let the joists dry out, then rebuild.
Got to thinking about my reply. You also have to remember that was not pristine ocean water coming in. It had raw sewage, gasoline from floating cars, oils, you name it. Rip it out!
I was a restoration super for an condo complex after hurricane Charley destroyed Punta Gorda/ Boca Grande . What happened was kind of amazing. Units that were full of water -soaking wet walls,floors,ceilings started growing mold rather quickly. But the units that had de-humidifiers actually started to heal themselfs and reversed the growth and damage. I know its hard to believe but I lived it. Some of those units where slated for complete gutting and re-build but between the time the decesion to gut and go time they" healed". Ripping up a floor with tons of cabinetry and whatever is a huge project. What helped was inspection holes behind base boards sometimes into toe kick spaces. Baseboards are easy to r and r .
I have done several dozen restorations of houses damaged by Hurricane Eva (1982 and Hurricane Iniki (1992) We attempted to salvage floors by drying them out and re-sanding and refinishing. Hardwood floors over plywood sub-floors were impossible to dry out completely. Hardwood over joists could be dried but there was for sure a shrinkage problem. The flooring nail and staples caused rust stains and black stains which didn't show for many months after refinishing. These houses were exposed to salt water and after drying out the wood salt remained in the wood which attracted moisture causing long term problems. I spent 6 years after Iniki (1992)restoring hurricane damaged houses. None of the houses damaged by ocean water were covered by insurance but then only the very wealthy can afford to build along the oceans here in Hawaii. In most cases it was tear it down to rough framing , re wire, plumb , drywall and onward. Everything had to be brought up to coed !!! If the owners didn't have the money they didn't re build !!! My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes !!! Your nightmare is just starting !!!!
Take it out. The potential for "negligence" re: mold will plague you for years. The wood will take nature's path; the client, legal action.
Would not hesitate. Tear it out
absolutely take it out Hugh. I am extremely familiar with your area having framed and still framing the majority of Breezy Point. My heart goes out to you people and a mor resilient group is hard to find. Dumb question here: can the hardwood be cut cloe to built inns, Kitchen cabs etc. Tuff job to do but doable and maybe the lesser of all evils
well we are still waiting on these floors after the new year,I spoke with a floor guy and he told me that the floors can be sanded even but in three to four months the floor will begin to move and separate.Another friend of mine went a head and sanded and finished his cupped floors they came out perfect,so he will be my guinea pig To see the out come I will keep you guys posted about the outcome