Hardwood floors are a beautiful and practical addition to your home, but even these highly durable floors can be vulnerable to damage. Flooding events caused by leaky roofs, busted pipes, overflowed toilets, or any other source of excess water can quickly turn gorgeous wood planking into a warped, mold-prone mess in days.

One would think that finished hardwood floors are impervious to water. Sealers and waxes enhance the water-resistant properties of wood flooring, but they do not fully prevent moisture absorption. Drying hardwood floors, finished and unfinished, immediately following a flooding event is crucial. Acting quickly and following the proper steps is crucial to preventing damage that could require you to replace your floors down the line. If you wait too long to dry the floor, and the wood starts cupping (when the sides of the floorboards swell and rise higher than the center), your only option is to rip out the flood-damaged floor and replace it.

Drying hardwood flooring using rescue matsCalling a certified water damage remediation expert is the best thing you can do for your hardwood floors. Experts possess the skills and professional equipment to ensure they dry your floors quickly and properly, and they can react more swiftly than an average person attempting to figure out the steps of a DIY drying project. However, if you insist on the DIY route, Certified Restoration has you covered with a complete guide on how to dry your hardwood floors below.

How to Dry Wet Hardwood Floors

Step 1: Clear the area

The first step to drying your hardwood floor is completely clearing the area of all furniture and rugs. Wet rugs and furniture can continue to shed moisture onto the wood, hindering drying. Set wet furniture and rugs outside in the sun to dry if the weather is good. But if this is impossible, set the items in a dry area with durable flooring material, like concrete or tile.

Step 2: Eliminate excess water

Next, try to remove as much water as possible from the floor. Start with towels, rags, or a mop and soak up the visible water on the surface. Be sure to wring out and wash these items thoroughly after they have done their job.

Once you have soaked up most of the standing water, utilize a wet vacuum to extract any hidden water from the hardwood floor. A wet vacuum is neither a regular household vacuum nor a steam-cleaning vacuum; it is a specialized version available at home repair stores and auto parts retailers. Continue to use the wet vacuum until you can no longer see any water on the surface of the wood, and there is no water in the vacuum canister.

Step 3: Clean the entire surface

After removing the excess flood water, clean the hardwood floor with water and disinfectant. This will ensure no leftover dirt or debris can store water in the floor’s invisible pores.

To clean the floor, use a disinfectant that doesn’t produce suds and a gentle brush that won’t scratch the floor. Apply the disinfectant, and let it sit for the time recommended on the product label. After the allotted time, use a well-rung mop or cloth and clean water to rinse the floor. Finally, use dry clothes or a wet vacuum to remove any remaining water.

Step 4: Fully dry the area

After cleaning and using the wet vacuum, hardwood floors can appear dry. However, moisture may still linger deep within the wood’s pores, so you must take extra steps to eliminate this deep-seated water.

To do this, place a dehumidifier in the center of the room and leave it running for at least 24 hours in the highest setting. You’ll want to use a professional-grade humidifier for this job, and if you don’t have one on hand, some home repair stores offer equipment to rent.

While the dehumidifier is running, place several large fans throughout the room on high so that the air produced reaches the entire surface. Airflow will help the dehumidifier work more efficiently. Point the fans in the affected room towards the floor.

If there is a level below the affected room, place fans on the lower level and aim them towards the ceiling to assist in drying the subfloor and flooring underneath if it is dry outside, open windows and doors in the room about two inches to allow extra moisture to escape.

Mold Growing on Dry WallStep 6: Inspect the space for mold and mildew

If mold loves one thing, it’s moisture. Hardwood floors can take several days to weeks to fully dry, so soaked hardwood floors have a window where they’re pretty hospitable to mold spores. Mold growth can occur within 24 to 48 hours of moisture exposure, so it is important to monitor your hardwood floors and ensure they haven’t been affected.

Mold can cause numerous health problems and can aggravate existing health conditions. Mildew isn’t as much a health risk as mold, but it can still damage wood from the inside out. If you see any suspicious spots, immediately scrub the floor with baking soda and water. Use the wet vacuum to absorb the moisture and continue the drying process.

If mold and mildew persistently return, call a professional restoration service to address the issue. Click here for more information on addressing a mold problem in your home.

Step 7: Test for moisture

Even after you’ve followed all of the steps above, hidden moisture can still exist within your hardwood floors. Moisture testing meters, which can be purchased at most hardware stores, can be used to monitor the status of your floor’s drying and ensure every last speck of moisture is gone.

It can take several days to weeks for the hardwood floor to completely dry, so don’t be alarmed if the moisture reader still shows signs of moisture in the days following the clean-up project. Test daily and follow all the measures recommended for drying your hardwood floor until the moisture meter indicates no water remains.

Step 8: Assess the damage

Once the floor has completely dried, assess the extent of the damage. If you take action quickly, your flooring will be okay. However, if your floors have experienced severe warping, cupping, or discoloration, you may need to consult a professional to repair or refinish the hardwood floor.

Removing all the water and moisture from hardwood flooring can cost you much time and effort, not to mention money spent on equipment rentals and purchases. Call a water damage restoration expert to ensure they do the job quickly and correctly.

Certified Restoration Can Help

Need Help Now?Certified Restoration has over 30 years of experience restoring water-damaged wood flooring in San Diego. We take immediate action to minimize the damage to your wood floors, drastically lowering the chances of having to replace them.

If our team takes action before the floor buckles, we have a high chance of retaining your original flooring. We will be at your location within an hour of your call and are available for emergency response 24/7. No job is too big or too small, so call us. When a flood affects your home, we’ll help you get your life back on track ASAP!

In place drying for hardwood flooring using Injectadry systemHow Does Certified Restoration Dry Hardwood Floors?

Certified Restoration uses the Injectidry system to dry hardwood floors. This top-rated equipment can save homeowners and property owners thousands of dollars in replacement costs. The Injectidry system uses negative airflow that creates suction, allowing it to pull water out of the floor.

First, Injectidry panels are placed around the affected flooring and fastened with an airtight seal. The panels are connected to the Injectidry system through hoses. Air travels through these hoses and creates suction between the panels and the floor. The intense suctioning removes moisture present in the deepest pores of the wood panels and the grooves between the boards. The excess moisture is then completely removed from the floor and retained in the Injectidry system tank.

Why Use the Injectidry System?

The Injectidry system is one of the fastest and most effective ways to draw trapped moisture out of hardwood floors. It cuts down overall drying time, reducing the chances of the floor cupping or warping and giving mold and mildew less of a chance to develop.


Drying wet hardwood floors promptly is crucial to prevent long-term damage and minimize the chances of having to replace your floor. Following the steps above increases your chances of effectively drying your beautiful hardwood floor and minimizing any potential issues.

If your hardwood floors have significant moisture, we recommend calling a professional. The best chance of saving your floors from warping and staining is to call a professional who has specialized equipment to dry hardwood floors.