Floodwaters have inundated homes in parishes across south Louisiana, and homeowners are wondering what, if anything, can be done to save their furniture.
“When water gets into your home and touches any part of your wood furniture, it’s critical to take action immediately,” said George Parker, who has been restoring furniture in Lafayette for 28 years. Parker offers these tips to assess and determine if your furniture can be saved:
1. Assess the wood type.
Hardwood has a good chance to be restored. Particle board with water intrusion is typically not worth saving
2. Clean the wood immediately.
Using a garden hose, wash away all of the sediment that has settled on the furniture. If it is a cabinet piece with drawers, attempt to remove them and the contents. If the drawers are stuck, you may need to remove the back of the cabinet to push the drawer box out, causing the least damage to the drawer box. Once the drawers are removed, rinse out the piece and the drawers as much as possible.
To prevent or kill mold and mildew, mist the wood with a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water. Allow the mixture to soak in, then rinse it off with fresh water. The furniture already has been wet so you will not damage it more.
If possible, remove any hardware, like drawer pulls or hinges, to prevent rust from staining the wood. Thoroughly dry the hardware and save it for use after restoration.
3. Dry the wood properly.
Do not set the furniture in the sun to dry. That will cause the individual components of the furniture to warp, twist or crack, making restoration efforts more complicated and time consuming. If you must air-dry your furniture, place it in a shaded area with good circulation.
If possible, use fans to dry pieces in a shaded area, such as a carport or garage.
4. Store the wood properly.
If possible, store furniture in a climate-controlled storage facility.
Contact a reputable furniture refinishing or restoration shop for damage assessment, insurance options and costs to refinish or restore your valued pieces.
Parker also warns that furniture you plan to keep should not be placed near the road.
“Salvage people will often come to flood-stricken areas to confiscate and sell good, discarded furniture,” said Parker, owner of Parker Woodworks. “Many families abandoned furniture in 2005 following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, only to regret it later.”