After the Flood: Water Damage and Kitchen Floors

Posted on: 15 June 2015


Maybe your kitchen has been the site of a huge flood after some catastrophic plumbing failure. Maybe you had a slow leak that you didn't notice until the floor began to squish when you walked on it. But no matter what the cause and solution to your kitchen water leak, you're still left with the same task afterwards: cleaning up a waterlogged kitchen floor.

The sooner you clean up water damage, the better. Water will continue to cause damage over time, leading to rotting and growth of mold and mildew. And the longer the floor is wet, the greater the risk that water will get into the subfloor.

Standing Water

Hopefully, if there's any standing water in your kitchen, it's only a thin layer on the floor. If this is the case, you should be able to soak it up with a mop and wring it out into a bucket, where it's easily disposed of.

For larger amounts of water, the best method is a wet/dry vacuum. Be sure not to use a regular household vacuum for this. If you don't have a wet/dry vac, many hardware stores will allow you to rent one.

Tile Floors

One of the big advantages of tile flooring in a kitchen is that most tiles are non-porous, meaning the water can't soak through them and into the materials underneath. Removing the surface water on these tiles is sufficient.

If your tile is ceramic or porcelain, it's naturally non-porous. Natural stone tiles are porous until they are sealed; if the sealant has worn away, there may be spots where water can get into the tiles. And if there are damaged areas of the floor or places where grouting has worn away, these are also possible entry points for water to get under your floor.

Signs of water under your tile floor include squishing noises when you walk on the floor. If the moisture remains there for a long time, you may smell a musty odor as mold or mildew begins to grow, and tiles may come loose from the subfloor. If you think water has gotten under your floor, call a water cleanup service. Most likely, the flooring will have to be taken up, the subfloor dried with professional equipment, and the tiling replaced.

Wood Floors

Wood floors are gorgeous, but they don't hold up to water damage very well. If you have water on a wood floor, you should clean it up immediately so that it doesn't get a chance to sink into the subfloor. These floors should never be left to air dry; even if the surface dries, you can bet there's still water deeper in the wood.

For leaks below the surface, some signs of water damage are the same as with tile: a squishy noise or texture to the floor and musty odors. However, wood floors will also show obvious structural damage. The wood will begin to buckle or cup, bowing in some areas and rising in others.

For large leaks where there has been standing water, speed is key, so wood floors are best dealt with by professionals. Specialized equipment is necessary, such as rubber vacuum mats or panels that can cover a wet floor and draw the moisture out. Heavy-duty and desiccant dehumidifiers will help dry the floor as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.