5-Step Guide On How To Refinish Water Damaged Wood Easily

There are five simple steps on how to refinish water damaged wood. If your wood is water damaged, don’t fret!


how to refinish water damaged wood

How can you spot water damage on wood?

It’s no secret that water damage is quite troublesome. It also doesn’t help that wood is very susceptible to water damage.

It’s best to tackle water damage early on before your wood rots and becomes unusable. Fixing minor water damage is more permanent and more affordable than repairing significant water damage. Spotting the signs of this phenomenon is quite simple, too.

What are the signs of water damage? Just look at the surface of the wood. If you can see water-shaped stains, white spots, or discoloration, then your wood might be water damaged.

Musty smells and soft surfaces on the wood are also signs of water damage. You should refinish the water-damaged wood immediately.


How To Refinish Water Damaged Wood

Refinishing water-damaged wood is not as hard as it sounds. You can do it on your own or with a few helping hands. Read on to know how to fix your water-damaged wood!

Before anything else, it’s essential to let the wood dry for a few days. Remove all the items inside or on top of the wood. You can also place an electric fan near the wood to speed up the process.


Step #1. Prepare the materials

You’ll need a few things from the hardware for this project. Prepare coarse grit sandpaper, auto-filler, primer, paint, and wood sealant.

Protect your workspace with a plastic sheet or newspapers. The sheet will catch debris and liquids so your space won’t get dirty. Now that your materials are ready, let’s get to work.


Step #2. Sand the wood’s surface

If there’s rotten wood, carefully remove it before sanding the wood. Sand any swollen or stained parts on the wood. Coarse-grit sandpaper is recommended for this task.

Go over the surface with the sandpaper either manually or mechanically. Once the surface is smooth, and the stains are gone, it’s time to move on to the next step.


Step #3. Apply auto-filler on crevices

Auto-filler is a type of putty that fills in cracks, dents, and holes. Follow the mixing instructions on the packaging to create the putty.

Spread the auto-filler on the parts of the wood that have dents and cracks. You can use a putty knife or a spatula to spread the filler evenly.

Let the auto-filler dry for a few hours. When it’s completely dry, you can sand it down once again. Sanding the wood will ensure an even surface for the paint to glide on smoothly.


Step #4. Prime and paint the wood

It’s always good to prime surfaces before painting on them. You can use a shellac-based primer, an oil-based primer, or an alcohol-based primer. Avoid water-based ones because the wood will only absorb them.

Primer lets the paint adhere better to the wood. It also helps with avoiding water damage. Once the primer is dry, you can proceed to paint the wood.

Choose a color that matches the original color of the wood. It’s best to paint over the whole surface, and not just the refinished parts. Doing this will give the wood a clean look.

Let the paint dry in between coats. If you want better coverage, you should lightly sand the first layer of paint before applying the second.

When you’re happy with how the paint turned out, it’s now time to add the finishing touch.


Step #5. Coat with sealant

A water-resistant sealant is the best choice for wooden surfaces. Sealant is the final layer of protection against water damage. Apply sealant to dry wood.

Leave the sealant to dry. After a few days, you can now place all the items back on the wooden surfaces.


When should you call for professional help?

Refinishing wood surfaces is easy when there’s minimal water damage. What do you do if the damage is significant and widespread?

If your walls, floors, and other structural areas are water damaged, it’s best to call for professional help. Under the right circumstances, their services are covered by homeowner’s insurance.

If the water damage is due to neglect and not sudden events like a pipe burst or a hurricane, then you’d have to pay for repairs yourself.


What wood holds up best to water?

It’s best to start with your choice of wood if you want to prevent water damage. Teak, cedar, and white oak are known to be water-resistant. Hardwood is also common for outdoor floors and furniture.

Since these materials are still wood, they are bound to become water damaged over time. Don’t worry, though, you can still take extra precautions.

Protect your wood from water damage by using water-resistant primer, paint, and sealant. These three will help your wood absorb less moisture. It will also help your wood become more durable.



If you see signs of water damage on wood early on, you can still do something about it! Just follow this guide on how to refinish water damaged wood.

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