How To Fix Water-Damaged Swollen Wood Furniture (4 Simple Steps)

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Got water-damaged, swollen wood furniture? Our easy-to-follow article will guide you in the water damage restoration process.

The most important thing to do is allow the furniture to dry completely. You can do this by leaving it out in the sun or in a well-ventilated area with electric fans blowing on it.

We’ll show you how to use a clothes iron for drying and a needle for detailed veneer fixes. After drying, we walk you through sanding, sealing, and applying the right wood finishes. This way, you can repair your furniture and protect it for the future.

Why Does Wood Swell In The First Place?

Wood swells as it’s a hygroscopic material, absorbing water from the air and causing expansion. The extent of swelling depends on the wood type, its moisture content, and air humidity.

Softwoods like pine are more prone to swelling than hardwoods like oak. High humidity and moisture content increase swelling, leading to warping, cracking, or splitting of wood furniture.

4 Tips on Fixing Water-damaged Swollen Wood Furniture 

Here are some tips on how to fix water-damaged swollen wood furniture:

1) Dry the furniture as soon as possible

The longer the wood is wet, the more likely it is to warp or crack. Use a fan or hair dryer to help speed up the drying process. If the furniture is very wet, you may need to place it in a well-ventilated area or use a dehumidifier.

2) Remove any water-damaged materials

If the furniture has any fabric, upholstery, or other materials that have been damaged by water, remove them immediately. These materials can harbor mold and mildew, which can further damage the furniture.

Yes, they will have to be replaced, but if the “bones” of the furniture are repairable, it’s worth it to replace them.  It also offers an opportunity to restyle the piece or add to a new color palette in the room.

3) Repair any cracks or splits

If the furniture has any cracks or splits, repair them as soon as possible. You can use wood glue or epoxy to repair the cracks.

4) Sand and refinish the furniture

Once the furniture is dry and repaired, sand it down and refinish it. This will help protect the wood from future damage.  Later in this article, we mention sealing and finishing the furniture piece with oils and topcoats, both effective in preventing future damage from water/moisture and swelling.

Bonus Tips

  • If the furniture is made of a softwood, such as pine, it is more likely to warp or crack than a hardwood.
  • If the furniture is very valuable, you may want to consider hiring a professional to repair it.
  • If the furniture is made of a delicate wood, such as ebony or rosewood, you may want to avoid using heat to dry it.

5 Tips to Repair Water Stains on Wooden Furniture

What if the damage isn’t so much swelling as it is a water stain on the wood surface?  A piece of furniture, a wood table, maybe?

No problem with that, actually.  The repair work is not that different from dealing with swollen wood.

1) Dry the furniture as soon as possible

The longer the water is in contact with the wood, the more likely it is to cause damage. Use a fan or hair dryer to help speed up the drying process. If the furniture is very wet, you may need to place it in a well-ventilated area or use a dehumidifier.

2) Remove any loose or damaged finish

Once the furniture is dry, use a soft cloth to remove any loose or damaged finish. You can use a furniture polish or fine-grit sandpaper to help remove the finish.

3) Apply a wood filler

If the water stain has caused a dent or a hole in the wood, you will need to apply a wood filler. There are many different types of wood filler available, so be sure to choose one that is specifically designed for the type of wood you are working with.

4) Sand the filler smooth

Once the wood filler has dried, sand it smooth with a fine-grit sandpaper.  Use a clean cloth to remove any wood dust from sanding over the entire surface of the wood.

5) Apply a finish

Once the filler is sanded smooth, apply a finish to the furniture. This will help to protect the wood from future damage.

Bonus Tips

  • If the water stain is very deep, you may need to apply a second coat of wood filler.
  • If the water stain is on a delicate piece of furniture, you may want to consider hiring a professional to repair it.
  • Be sure to test any wood filler or finish in an inconspicuous area of the furniture before applying it to the water stain. This will help you ensure that the product does not damage the furniture’s finish.

Repairing a Bubble On Veneer Furniture

If the water stain has lifted a veneer surface or a bubble has formed, there are a few more steps to follow, including glue and the need for an injection needle.

Follow the initial steps of drying the wood surface fully – a fan or a well-ventilated, warm, dry room.  Use a needle to prick the top of the bubble; then, use the needle to inject a little wood glue into the side of the bubble.

Put a clean cloth over the bubble and then add weight to the cloth to press the bubble down.  The glue you’ve injected inside the bubble will hold the veneer down, and make sure you let it sit long enough for the glue to dry.

There will likely be a bit of glue that has come out of the first hole you pricked, so remove that excess glue with a little sanding.  Continue on with the process we outlined – sanding smooth, applying a finish, including a sealant, and you should be fine.

Using A Clothes Iron On Wet Wood Furniture

A common household iron can also be used in the repair process when you encounter moisture damage to wood furniture.

The process is easy as long as you follow some common sense steps:

  1. Empty the water tank of your iron. You don’t want to introduce more water and make the stain worse or create a new one.
  2. Set your iron to a low heat setting. You don’t want to burn the wood.
  3. Place a clean cloth over the wet area. This will help to protect the wood from the heat of the iron.
  4. Iron the cloth over the wet area for a few seconds at a time. Be careful not to leave the iron in one spot for too long, as this could damage the wood.
  5. Check the area periodically to see if it is dry. If it is not, continue ironing until it is.
  6. Once the area is dry, remove the cloth and buff the wood with a soft cloth. This will help to restore the shine of the wood.

Bonus Tips

  • If the wood is very wet, you may need to repeat the process several times.
  • If the wood is delicate, you may want to use a hair dryer instead of an iron.
  • Be sure to test the iron on an inconspicuous area of the wood first to make sure it does not damage the finish.

We’ve actually used this technique with good success in the past.  It works well

Tips Prevent Water Damage To Wooden Furniture Now and In The Future 

It would have been great to take steps before water damage harmed your swollen furniture.  But you can prevent future water damage with a few simple steps.  

When you have the damage repaired and the wooden furniture is back in shape, ensure water damage won’t occur again.  They are not onerous, are mostly common sense, and will save you from having to restore furniture again.

Keep your furniture in a dry environment

This means avoiding areas where there is a lot of moisture, such as near the kitchen or bathroom. If you have to keep your furniture in a humid environment, you can use a dehumidifier to help reduce the humidity.

Properly seal or finish your furniture

This will help to protect the wood from water damage. Many different types of sealants and finishes are available, so be sure to choose one specifically designed for wood furniture.

Finishing wood furniture with oil can help, whether it is linseed oil, boiled linseed oil, or tung oil.  A top coat of varnish or shellac will seal the wood and prevent moisture from entering.

On Sale Rubio Monocoat

Clean up spills immediately

If a spill does occur, be sure to clean it up immediately. The longer the water is in contact with the wood, the more likely it is to cause damage.

Repair any damage immediately

If your furniture does become damaged by water, be sure to repair it immediately. This will help to prevent the damage from getting worse.

 A Video Demo With Needles

Just in case you thought we were kidding about an injection needle in woodworking, here’s a video showing how to use the needle to inject glue into a bubbled veneer on a piece of water-damaged wood. 

As we said, water-damaged and swollen wood furniture is not the end of the world.  There is almost always a way to be found in woodworking, and these ways we’ve discussed are well within a woodworker’s comfort zone.

With a little time, patience, and work, the furniture piece is back in use in no time.

Last update on 2024-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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