Saving Your Wood Furniture After A Flood

A flood is a traumatic event for any family. Often times, precious possessions are simply lost forever due to the extent of the damage. While it does take some work, wood furniture is one type of item that can usually make it through the flood waters and remain in your home for future generations to enjoy. Just take your time, and everything will usually turn out okay.

Clean and Dry Everything

Flood waters are rarely made up of just water. If you are lucky, this only means the addition of some mud and grime. In most cases, however, the flood waters also pick up dangerous waste and caustic chemicals. While it might seem counterintuitive to get your furniture wet again, that is exactly what you need to do, but this time you will do it with clean, fresh water. Just be sure that the waste water is properly disposed of-- you don't want that waste water anywhere near your children or pets.

Once you've cleaned up the grime, it is important to start drying everything out before mold starts to set in. Take things apart as much as you possibly can-- empty drawers, take off legs, and remove backs. Take care while you are doing this, as the moisture can make joints swell and you can easily end up breaking things instead of pulling them apart. Check the joints a couple times a day. As the wood retracts, you may be able to separate more and more pieces.


Once everything has had a few days to get all the moisture out, it is time to start the restoration process. Take apart any sections you couldn't separate while the wood was still swollen. You may need to do some spot cleaning and drying in order to complete that step in the process on any areas you couldn't reach before. It is more important to ensure that the piece is clean and dry before you seal it than to get everything finished as quickly as possible.

Refinishing will depend on what type of finish your furniture had. Veneers are a bit of a special case, as you will need to wet, flatten and then reglue the layers. After you get the glue under the layers, clamping or wrapping the area tightly will help keep the veneer flat against the surface of the furniture until the glue dries. If the veneer is too badly damaged, use a heat gun to get the remaining glue to release so you can replace it. Once you have a smooth finish on the veneer, you can continue with refinishing the piece.

Regardless of whether or not the piece is veneered, you should start by removing any remaining finish. This step will also work to remove any final gunk from the surface. Once that is done, take some time to carefully sand down any rough spots left from the water. Finally, you can repaint or refinish the piece any way you want.


Now that everything has a fresh coat of varnish or paint, it is time to put the pieces back together. Make sure to check all the joints, not just the ones that you took apart. Many wood glues are water soluble, and the warping from the water could cause any joint to loosen up. Because fabric is so susceptible to mildew, you will also need to reupholster any pieces that had fabric parts.

It may seem like you will never be done with the aftereffects of the flood, and the work can certainly be overwhelming. However, the effort you put into keeping your wood furniture intact will be something you thank yourself for for years to come. If you need help with the restoration process, you can contact a local flood cleanup company. Visit to learn more about these services in your area.