How To Fix Water Damaged Swollen Wood Furniture (Super Helpful!)

Why do you need to learn how to fix water-damaged swollen wood furniture? because water damage can leave your furniture swollen, warped, cracked, stained, and even shrunk.

For minor — Category 1 (or less) water damage from clean water — you might be able to save that furniture yourself. Of course, before taking that on, you will need to consider the extent of the damage and the value of the furniture.

If you decide to move forward, here are 3 great tips that could save your swollen wood furniture.

What Causes Wood Furniture to Bubble Up?

Swollen wood can easily detract from the beauty of your furniture, making it appear aged and scuffed. But understanding why your wood is swollen will help you maintain your wood furniture and save money in the long term.

Wood naturally absorbs water unless you seal it with a waterproof sealant. Moisture (humidity) in the air gets into the wood and causes it to shrink, swell, and bubble up. Fortunately, it is possible to remove these bubbles.

It should go without saying, but the best method to avoid swollen furniture is to avoid getting water on it. Too often — through accident or nature — you have no control over this, especially when it comes to something like a dinner table upon which we’re putting drinks all the time.

How to Fix Water Damaged Swollen Wood Furniture

Here’s my first, no-kidding Sherlock, tip: clean up the water as soon as it gets on your wood furniture. You need to act swiftly — before the water is absorbed by the wood — to have the best shot at saving the wood. However, even if it’s too late, there’s still some hope for repairs to be made. Here are some possible methods.

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1. Let Your Furniture Dry Out

Allow your water-damaged piece of furniture to dry before attempting to repair it. Be patient: if you try to hurry this process along, the wood might crack.

Be sure to wipe off any residue and place it in a warm and dry space. If possible, bring (or keep) the furniture inside to avoid moisture. Moisture in the air (humidity) can make the situation much worse.

how to fix water damaged swollen wood furniture - keep dry
Let your water-damaged furniture dry out in a climate-controlled area that has little to no moisture. If it’s patio furniture, don’t leave it outside. If it’s already inside, make sure it’s in the driest area of the house.

2. Sand the Wood & Apply Furniture Oil

Use sandpaper with a hand-sanding tool or your hand to rub your furniture piece. This will even the surface out and get rid of any inconsistencies with the wood. Before sanding, be sure to wipe off any residue.

After sanding, brush off the dust that will have accumulated and make sure the wood is smooth and even on the surface.

Finally, apply furniture oil to the wood furniture piece and rub it in. Wipe off the remaining oil it has been applied to. There should be no oil residue on the surface after you’re done.

how to fix water damage swollen wood furniture - furniture oil
Make sure to use a high-quality furniture oil finish to preserve and protect your wood furniture. This particular oil is highly rated for wood furniture but not for wood floors.

3. Use an Iron

Using an iron to cure water-damaged wood furniture is a straightforward approach to dealing with swollen wood furniture. Most people know how to use an iron safely, so it should be easy.

Cover the swollen furniture with a wet rag and set your iron to a low-temperature setting. Hold the iron down on the rag for a few seconds. Be careful not to hold the iron in the same place for too long as this could further damage the wood. If you still see a problem, repeat the process or move on to one of the above methods.

how to fix water damage swollen wood furniture - warm iron and rag
Gently swirl around the warm (not hot) iron on a rag that has been placed on top of the water damage. Here’s the bonus: this technique might also help you eliminate water and heat stains!

Final Thoughts

Any water-damaged object or material, let alone wood furniture, is difficult to repair. You might need to make some hard choices on which pieces you can recover and which pieces you need to discard.

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A restoration professional can help you determine which pieces you can salvage, clean, and restore. But the longer you wait to involve them, the worse the damage to your furniture will only grow. So, give them a call as quickly as you can.

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