When a flood strikes your home, whether from an inside force or outside force, the damage can be severe, and your furniture can take the hardest hit. You could have a plumbing failure, or a hurricane, either way, if your furniture is affected, you need to know what and how to salvage. Knowing how to salvage furniture after flooding allows you to save the furniture you love and may have spent a lot of money on.

To determine if your furniture is salvageable, ask yourself the following questions for each piece:

  1. What is the extent of the damage?
  2. How much does the piece cost?
  3. Is there sentimental value attached to it?
  4. How much would restoration cost?

Whether or not it can be salvaged depends on the type of furniture it is and the magnitude of the flooding. A plumbing failure is potentially less damaging than a weather event, but not always. Sometimes a locally heavy downpour creates only an inch or two of water, while a burst pipe sends torrents of water into your entire downstairs. Every home has the potential for flooding, so you need to know how to salvage furniture after flooding. You should also know the proper procedure for flood cleanup. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides helpful advice in pdf format.


Water damaged upholstery is a problematic restoration to tackle, and most damaged upholstery pieces are beyond saving. Again, it depends on the severity of the flood and damage. A light flooding may only hurt the legs of the piece, and a dramatic flooding could ruin it beyond repair. Your first task is to ask yourself the four questions above. If you determine the piece is too expensive or sentimental, it is worth attempting restoration.

First, separate the colored fabrics to prevent the colors from bleeding. Next, place the piece in a safe, dry and well-ventilated area for the restoration process. Sunshine and fans help speed up the drying. It's important you ensure the piece is dried out quickly and thoroughly as mildew can form and ruin the piece for good. Upholstered furniture absorbs tremendous amounts of contaminants present in flood water, so if there is a concern of harmful bacteria and mold growth, try using a professional who knows how to salvage furniture after flooding to sanitize the piece.

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Professionals who know how to salvage furniture after flooding are your best bet if your wood furniture is antique. They are better equipped at restoration. If you're looking to restore the wooden piece yourself, you might like to know that solid wood is less porous and almost always fares better in floods than upholstery and particle board.

Start restoration for wood the same way as upholstery. Ask yourself the four questions above to determine the import of the item. If it's worth saving, save it. Take the piece to a safe, dry and well-ventilated area that is also shaded. Sunlight is detrimental to the wet wood and will cause it to warp. Remove any pieces that are removable such as drawers, without forcing anything. Layout every piece for air-drying and use fans to aid in the process.

White mildew can be cleaned with turpentine or equal parts ammonia and water; immediately wipe dry. You can also use cream wood restorers with lanolin. Every piece must be completely dry before you can repair and refinish the wood. Joints and veneers can be glued back together.


Now that you know how to salvage furniture after flooding, you need to know how to recover your home itself. Water is not only detrimental to your furniture but to your floors, drywall and just about everything else it touches. After a flood, time is of the essence. Go into the home to assess the damage and call a water mitigation company; most are open 24/7. The mitigation process needs to start as soon as possible to limit the amount of damage. Your next step is calling your insurance company to start a claim. If the flood is covered, you want an adjuster in the home quickly.

More info? For more information about flood preparation, check out our other post: DO YOU HAVE A WATER FLOOD DAMAGE EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN FOR YOUR FAMILY?

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