How different floorings react to water damage
Below are listed some different hard surface floorings, and how our SERVPRO team has experienced their reaction to water damage. Let's start with laminate flooring, one of the more common floors we see in homes today.
Laminate flooring is very resilient to almost anything except water. Laminate flooring advertises that it is real wood which is correct, but it only has a thin layer of wood on the top layer. The rest of the flooring is made up of particle board or press board. These types of materials absorb water very quickly and delaminate with minimal time. Imagine dog food when it absorbs water, it expands and breaks apart, that is the same with laminate flooring. Laminate flooring cannot be dried for that reason, but also due to the water that sits under the floor. Laminate flooring is a floating floor with a foam pad underneath. Once water has reached the pad you are unable to extract or evaporate the water. So, for both of these reasons, laminate flooring must be removed after a water loss, in order to dry out the structure and subfloor properly.
Vinyl is more resilient to water than laminate flooring, because it does not absorb water and is glued down not free floating. If a vinyl floor is affected by water damage, it can be saved depending on the amount of time the water has been dwelling. Once water has found its way underneath the tiles, the tiles must be removed. Vinyl acts as a vapor barrier and does not allow for evaporation which is needed in the drying process.
Linoleum: This type of flooring is much like vinyl when it comes to water damage. It is a vapor barrier and will need to be removed if water gets underneath, so the sub floor is able to dry.
Wood floor is a semi porous material that absorbs water slowly between the wood joints. If wood has been affected by a water damage, and is caught in a short amount of time, there are mats that can extract the water out of the wood and bring it back to its original state. If a wood floor has absorbed a significant amount of water and has dwelled for an extended period of time, then the wood floor will begin to cup and stain. If the floors are left in this condition it will get worse to the point of no return and must be removed. If wood floors are treated as soon as you see cupping, there is still a chance of them being saved. Water will get extracted, and then once dry, the wood can be sanded and refinished to get a smooth surface again.
Ceramic tile is the most resilient to water damage. It is semi porous like wood flooring, but is more apt to release water than wood. A large percentage of time, ceramic tile will dry, as well as the concrete or plywood underneath. The only time ceramic tiles need to be removed, is if the tiles and grout have loosened, or there is a plywood subfloor that is not drying. If the plywood will not dry, the ceramic tile will need to be removed to dry the plywood properly.
Please note all these processes of drying are within proper standards of dehumidification and air movement, performed by water restoration professionals. You will not get these results with at home equipment or leaving materials to air-dry.