Refinishing a Floor After Hurricane Sandy from Woodweb
In addition to the other tragic consequences following this fall's bout with Hurricane Sandy, it has had impact on woodwork in homes along the East Coast region of the U.S. - Editor
"This has to do with wood flooring [after] Hurricane Sandy [in one] house by the water and another by the bay. One had 12" of water in the home and the other had water up to joist and plywood underneath but not in the home. We have done the cleanup and wet insulation removal and are in the process of drying out the home with fans and dehumidifiers, Both homes have floors that are red oak. They are cupped and we have checked them with a water meter and the reading is about 20 percent on the exterior of the wood and about 35 percent on the inside of the wood. And now my 65,000 dollar question: do you think that after the floor dries and floor guy sands the cupping out of the flooring, seals it, stains it and puts a finish on it, will the floor be the same as before or will in continue to dry and change, move or cup or what will be the outcome later? Some of the homes I"m working on have over 2,000 sq feet of flooring, and my concern is to take it all out or try and dry it and have it refinished.
"The reason I'm asking is because the area is over 4,000 square feet with over $250,000 worth of cabinetry, built-ins, office kitchen, barroom, and these are all sitting on top of this flooring. Sanding the floor and finishing will cost about $10,000. Removing the flooring, cabinetry, countertops, and mouldings. Then new floors,reinstalling cabinetry and countertops and moulding can cost $150,000 and more. This is the reason I ask about the flooring." - Hugh D
Input from others on the forum was not encouraging for being able to repair, rather than replace. - Editor
"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." - Jon
"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 [Hurricane] 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 16-gauge 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." - Mike
Some commenters disagreed on how long the wood would take to completely dry and stop moving -- and also raised concerns about mold, and what was in the water. - Editor
"[For what it's worth], 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 percent 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." - Jon
"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 the 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." - B.H. D.
"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 refinish 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." - C.M.
"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." - F.S.
"The drywall acts like a conduit and 'pulls' the water up. And 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." -Jeff D.
"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. ... 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!" - Rich
Gender-Designed Tools from Woodworking.com
The original poster in this thread is evidently working on a project for a drill aimed at women. The response questions the gender design of some other common tools. - Editor
"I'm currently designing a new hand drill that is designed to suit the needs of women.I would really appreciate any feedback regarding what features you believe it should have and if you have a moment to complete this very quick two-minute survey it would really help." - Alistair
"I have often thought if our vacuum cleaner was designed for a man I would tend to use it more often; guess the same goes for the washing machine and the iron." - Frank C.