Water Damage On Wood- From Watermarks To Repairs

Quality wooden furniture can last for generations, or it can be ruined by careless housekeeping, broken pipes or flood waters. Maintaining fine furnishings  after water damage is a goal of Rumsey Construction of Columbia


These water stains are often caused by cold glasses, spills, or hot dishes placed directly on the wood. Luckily, though, they aren’t always permanent but even a bad touch-up can damage an heirloom. So, exercise patience when removing stains. For extra insurance, test the method on a hidden area before going all-out on the top surface of the wood. 

A great tip is also very inexpensive. As soon as you see a watermark, gently blot the surface dry. Then apply a layer of mayonnaise with a spatula or paper towel. Leave it overnight, then wipe and buff with a clean cloth.

Solid Wood Furniture 

Water can damage wood furniture in several ways. Direct contact with standing water can cause changes in structure and damage to wood in only a few days.  When cleaning these items, first clean off any dirt and mildew. The piece should be completely dried with the help of fans but not in full sun. Moisture in wood furniture will encourage fungus and mold growth, so be thorough with this step. 

With heavily damaged wood furniture, speed up drying by removing the parts that are easy to take apart like back panels, drawers, and doors. Do not try to force them if they are sticking; you can disassemble later when the furniture has dried some more.

Saturated wood expands and then shrinks as it dries. This may loosen joints and cause warping and swelling. Solid panels and tops are particularly vulnerable, especially when the inside is not finished. Slightly warped boards may be removed and straightened or replaced.   


Because veneer is only a thin layer of wood attached with glue to a solid base, it is very vulnerable to damage on wooden furniture. On old furniture, the glue that holds the veneer is often not water-resistant. Prolonged humidity or exposure to water can soften the glue, letting the veneer blister, crack, or peel. Veneer is also easily damaged from the surface, and old veneers are often cracked, buckled, or broken, with chips or entire pieces missing.  

Replacing veneer is easy, but finding a new piece to replace it may not be. If the piece of furniture is not valuable, you may be able to take the patch from a part of it that won’t show. The patch area must be along an edge, so that you can lift the veneer with a craft knife or a stiff-blade putty knife.

Alternative Engineered Wood Products

Furniture made from manufactured products such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard is probably a total loss. And it is somewhat inaccurate to say that MDF is not real wood, since the material is fabricated from hardwood and softwood byproducts that are bound together with resins and waxes and pressed into sheets under high temperature and pressure. MDF is “wood” to the same degree that plywood is. But these structures are vulnerable to water damage.

In typical furniture or cabinets, the main cabinet box is made of medium-density fiberboard.  It is finished with a papery top layer or melamine foil laminate for the veneers on the exposed sides.The problem is the edges of the construction; water can easily wick into the “board” and weaken the adhesive. Swelling will soon be followed by crumbling furniture.

Full Service Water Damage Cleanup In Columbia  

Rumsey Construction is a full service construction and restoration company with extensive experience to handle your water problems. Rumsey Construction and Restoration can respond to all types of disaster: fire damage, smoke damage restoration, water restoration, and storm damage.

When you have water damage on any of your wood furnishings or millwork, Rumsey Construction and Restoration is available to manage your entire rebuild process: demolition, structural framing, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, paint, carpet, and even custom cabinets.