Wood is a porous material that absorbs water, and if your home features wood flooring, the moisture can potentially cause permanent damage. However, recognizing the early signs of water issues allows you to schedule repairs and prevent further issues. Here are several indications of water damage that you can spot when inspecting the flooring.

How Can You Tell When Water Has Damaged Wood Flooring?

1. Cupping

With repeated exposure to moisture, hardwood floors tend to swell. If the moisture accumulation is uneven, such as when the bottom is wetter than the top, the material can “cup,” which creates a unique look. The swollen boards with soggy bottoms will appear higher at the edges and lower in the middle, resembling a drinking cup. This can then create a tripping hazard for anyone walking that doesn't notice the damage. 

2. Musty Odors

Wet hardwood allows mold to grow between the surface and subfloor. This is the perfect environment, as it is dark and damp, and the wood flooring provides the perfect source of organic nutrients. As the fungi multiplies and spreads, you may notice a sharp, musty odor whenever you are in the room. It can even trigger allergic reactions among family members, such as coughing, sneezing, congestion, and wheezing. Mold also compromises the floor's structural integrity since it breaks down the wood.

wood flooring

3. Buckling

If a hardwood floor experiences serious or continual water damage, such as from a broken dishwasher or undetected plumbing leak, the planks can pull away from the subfloor. Known as buckling, the stain or paint on the boards can also start peeling from excess moisture. Without prompt attention, the water damage can spread and compromise the entire floor, requiring a costly replacement.

4. Crowning

Water damage at the center of wood flooring causes the opposite effect of cupping, which is known as crowning. To identify this issue, look at the center of the wood flooring and see if any boards appear higher than the rest of the surface. This can occur if a cupping floor was sanded while its moisture content was high and the boards were still swollen. Sanding before the wood fully dries causes the raised edges to flatten, while also pushing the middle upward.


If your wood flooring has significant water damage, contact Wilton’s Flooring. This flooring and water damage restoration company serves clients throughout Beeville and South Texas, and has been providing high-quality home improvement solutions since 1978. Call (361) 358-7069 for a free estimate, and visit the website for details about their services. Follow them on Facebook for flooring tips and updates.