Homes tend to contain an abundance of wood furniture including tables, chairs, shelving, cabinets, and more. However, much of the furniture found within homes is not solid wood, but instead made out of particle board. Particle board furniture is a durable, lightweight, and inexpensive alternative to solid wood furniture, and it can be used for many different types of furniture including bookshelves and kitchen cabinets. However, particle board furniture is more susceptible to water damage than its solid wood counterpart.
When particle board furniture becomes damaged by water or moisture, it is very important to act quickly to restore the damage. Water is easily absorbed by particle board furniture which can lead to significant damage. In this guide, we will discuss how particle board can become damaged by water and what you can do to restore your water damaged particle board furniture. If your home or furniture has experienced significant damage from water or flooding, it is best to call our water damage restoration experts at ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc.
Will Your Furniture Survive Water Damage?
The question of whether or not furniture will be able to dry out or be salvageable after a flood is something most people will not have to wonder. If you are unfortunate enough to have a sewage backup or a large water spill in your home you need to know what furniture will be savable and what will need to be replaced.
For starters, a rule of thumb is if your furniture is covered in water that comes up from a drain it should be discarded. The risk of sickness from the bacteria found in sewage water is much higher when you choose to keep the saturated furniture. If the water came from a something like a garden hose or a fridge’s water line, different methods for drying can be used to ensure the furniture is completely free of moisture.
Moisture in furniture
well that is not completely true. Most objects in the home contain a safe level of moisture. When specialists dry out something like furniture they do not dry the furniture out completely. The goal with drying out a home is to get the material to a normal moisture level. Different materials have different thresholds for levels of moisture so it is best to consult a professional before attempting drying methods on your home. Wood floor, for example, can crack if it gets too dry.
The Difference Between Particle Board and Wood Furniture
Particle board is not exactly wood but is in fact a combination of wood dust and a glue mixture. Sawdust and manufacturing wood waste is mixed together with specific types of glue and pressed into flat boards, creating the appearance of wood with no wood grain. Particle board is cheap and easy to manufacture which makes particle board furniture much more affordable than solid wood furniture.
The following are the main differences between wood and particle board furniture:
- Life expectancy: While particle board is somewhat durable, it does not last as long as solid wood furniture. Particle board furniture is highly susceptible to wear and tear and over time, the glue used in the making of particle board will break down. The glue can also break down due to changes in humidity or water damage which is why water damaged particle board should be repaired right away. Particle board on average has a life expectancy of 1-5 years depending on the conditions it is kept in while solid wood furniture can last for decades.
- Strength: Solid wood is considerably stronger than particle board and much more resistant to water damage and wear and tear. Particle board is not particularly strong and will sag, bow, or even break under too much pressure.
- Cost: The biggest advantage of particle board furniture is that it is much more affordable than solid wood furniture. Depending on the type of wood and style of furniture, wood furniture can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Particle board is very affordable due to the manufacturing process which uses wood byproducts.
Will Wet Particle Board Dry?
The nature of its construction makes particle board highly susceptible to water damage as the wood particles absorb water and the water will damage the glue. Particle board also takes a very long time to dry naturally and may experience further damage from the water as it is left to dry. It is highly recommended that you do not leave water damaged particle board to dry naturally and instead start the restoration process immediately to limit the damage.
How to Restore Water Damaged Particle Board
Particle board furniture already has a limited life expectancy compared to wood furniture which makes it important to restore water damaged particle board immediately. The following steps will help you restore damage to particle board caused by water:
- Dry the area: As mentioned above, particle board should not be left to dry on its own. Instead, wipe up excess moisture and water from the affected area and use a hairdryer to dry the affected areas faster. Make sure the hairdryer is aimed at the wet section and hold it in place until the particle board has thoroughly dried.
- Sand the raised area: After drying the particle board, the affected area may be raised or uneven. You can address this by buffing away the raised areas with sandpaper to even out the surface. Buffing away the raised portion of the particle board will expose the layer underneath so you can find and remove the damaged sections. You should use medium grit sandpaper to remove raised areas. If you plan to apply a waterproof coating, make sure the damaged areas are fully dried before proceeding.
- Remove damaged areas with a knife: Once the material has been dried and sanded, you can remove the damaged portions using a knife. Look for areas that are swollen, powdery, or damaged in any way and cut them out of the furniture. After doing this, use a vacuum to remove any powder or small pieces that are left. Once again, give the particle board some time to dry before continuing.
- Fill removed sections with wood filler: The spaces left by the damaged materials that you removed can be filled with regular wood filler. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label of the wood filler to mix and use it properly. It is best to use a scraper or putty knife to apply the filler and ensure that it is level with the surface. Make sure to scrape away any excess filler.
- Sand the affected areas: After allowing the wood filler to dry, you must sand it with fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the furniture. You can then apply a coat of waterproof seal to help protect the particle board from future water damage.
Can Particle Board Survive Black Water Damage?
Black water damage is damage caused by water that contains hazardous materials such as sewage water, groundwater flooding, and even flooding from the toilet. Water from these sources may contain bacteria and other harmful microorganisms and as particle board absorbs the water, it also absorbs these materials.
The waste materials and bacteria in black water will cause significant damage to particle board, making it nearly impossible to save. The restoration process outlined above does not help remove waste materials and other harmful microbes. If you have particle board furniture affected by black water, it is best to dispose of the furniture.
Water Damage Restoration from ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc.
You can help limit the damage and even save your water damaged particle board furniture by following the steps outlined in this guide. If the damage is too extensive for you to handle it yourself, you should call our professionals at ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc.
We provide complete water damage restoration services that include drying and repair of the affected areas and materials. Our technicians will set up advanced drying equipment to dry the materials, including wet furniture, and then provide any repairs and restoration needed. We can also check for mold growth that may have occurred as a result of the water damage.
You can call ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc. at (800) 649-6369 for water damage restoration in Stoneham, MA and the surrounding areas.