When a house is built, the structure begins with many base layers that set the foundation for a strong and lasting home. This includes the subflooring, which is a thick and durable material that can be found underneath the tile, wood, or carpeting inside of your home. This layer generally rests on the joists of the home to create a strong base for any flooring you choose to have installed. In general, most homeowners will never see this base unless they change out their flooring. However, in situations where water damage is present, subflooring can play a key role in the cleanup process. If you're in a situation where your home has water damage and your flooring has been impacted, the information below can help. At Action 1 Restoration, we share this information because we prioritize helping homeowners understand more about their homes and how water damage can impact each area.
How to Dry Out the Subfloor EffectivelyIf a flood or leak has occurred inside of your home, it's almost guaranteed that the flooring will be impacted. Unfortunately, this will not safely dry out on its own. In fact, leaving flooring to dry naturally can make the damage worse while also giving mold and mildew a chance to grow. To have the best chance of preserving your home, proper drying is crucial. To do so, our company at Action 1 Restoration recommends first stopping the source of water. After this, it's important to remove excess standing water with a wet/dry vacuum and/or large buckets. The next step in drying out a water damaged subfloor is to remove the flooring from the top of it. This can be done on your own with a few tools, although some homeowners prefer to contact professionals to avoid causing more damage. If you're not comfortable with this type of work, we highly recommend asking for help from the start. Once all impacted flooring has been removed, you'll want to dispose of it outside to prevent the moisture from staying indoors. Once the flooring is removed, the real drying of the subfloor can begin. This should start with placing thick plastic sheeting over the flooded area and securing it down with tape on the sides. It's important to make sure tape is covering each seam so the plastic is completely sealed. From here, take a utility heater and place the spout of it underneath a small portion of the plastic. Seal the edges and then turn on the heater. At this point, the plastic should inflate and fill with air as the heater runs. In most homes, the heater will need to run for three or more days to completely dry the subflooring. However, we recommend checking daily to see how the subfloor is progressing. If you're not able to tell by touch, then a moisture meter is an inexpensive tool worth investing in. This will tell you how much moisture is left so you know when it's completely dry and safe to begin working on. When the drying process is finished, the plastic can be removed and disposed of so you can move on with the rest of the restoration.
Types of SubflooringThere are four main types of subflooring materials that are used in the construction of most homes. These include:
- Plywood: This is the most common type of subflooring and it is very likely what you'll find in your home. It's made up of many sheets of wood veneer that are bonded together with high heat and pressure. It's strong, easy to work with, and easy to install.
- Concrete: Concrete slabs are not as common but can be found in homes throughout the country. While it may not seem like this material can be affected by moisture, it can still take a long time to fully dry.
- High-Performance Panels: High-performance panels are specially designed to resist moisture absorption so that they do not swell or warp. These are becoming more common but are unlikely to be in older homes unless there has been significant work done to improve the flooring.
- Oriental Strand Board: This material is made of strands of plywood that are pressed together in a crossing pattern. This helps reduce water absorption by increasing density, which is why it has become more common in homes built today.
How to Remove SubflooringIn most homes, the subfloor is made of plywood that's 3/4" or 5/8" thick. When it's exposed to water and not dried out promptly, it will swell and can eventually rot or experience mold growth. Moisture can also cause problems with the structural integrity of the subflooring and eventually lead to safety issues within the home. This is why, in some situations, it's crucial to remove the subflooring so it can be replaced. To start the removal process, Action 1 Restoration recommends having the following tools:
- Pry Bar
- Circular Saw
- Diagonal Pliers