If you have a fire or water emergency, please call us now at (919) 944-4002

To have the optimal experience while using this site, you will need to update your browser. You may want to try one of the following alternatives:

Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Happens To Building Materials When Wet?

11/14/2022 (Permalink)

warped flooring Flooring warped by water

What To Do About Wet Building Materials

When a water loss occurs in your Raleigh, NC home or business, you want to know that your building materials are safe. It's our job to prevent damage to your property and belongings, but we also want you to understand how each material is affected by water.

One of the most common questions we hear when we talk to our customers is "What happens to building materials when they get wet?" The answer depends on the material and its condition. Let's take a look at what can happen to wood, concrete, drywall, finished wood, and the supporting structure when water enters your building.


Wood has a moisture content called MCF (moisture content). When wood absorbs water, it swells and loses strength. This can also cause warping or splitting depending on how much moisture is absorbed by the wood. 

Wood can be saved or it can need to be replaced. Dry wood will shrink back to its original size and shape, but if it is left too wet for too long, the wood will swell and may need to be replaced. To save your wood furniture, place it in an area with good airflow and keep it there until the moisture has evaporated.


Concrete tends not to absorb significant amounts of moisture from water damage events, so it's less likely than other materials to see any significant damage. 


The drywall product is made from sheets of paper covered with a gypsum plaster mix that is pressed between two pieces of wood, one on each side. When wet, this mixture will deteriorate quickly, but if it’s dried out within 24 to 48 hours it will be just fine. Drywall loses its paper but the gypsum board can be dried and saved. No need to replace it at all!

Finished Wood

When finished wood such as cabinets and hardwood floors are exposed to moisture, they can swell. This can cause them to warp, crack, split and peel. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove and replace these materials altogether:

  • Cabinets can be removed from their baseboards and walls if they show signs of damage or if they're simply too damaged to repair. New cabinets may need to be custom-made by a qualified contractor in order to fit properly into existing openings (which will likely have been slightly altered from water damage). The good news is that once new cabinets are installed, you can use the same hardware on them as your old ones for a seamless transition into your new space!
  • Flooring that has been warped by water damage should be removed as soon as possible so it doesn't continue warping even more over time—and potentially create cracks between boards that could allow insects or vermin access into your home's interior walls later down the road!

The Supporting Structure

The supporting structure of your home, the studs, joists, and sill plates, can remain intact. The studs and joists may be covered with drywall or other building materials on both sides of the studs. In some cases, they are only covered on one side with a layer of wood or metal trim. The sill plate is often covered by flooring material such as carpet or hardwood floors. The drywall will help to keep moisture out of those areas even though it doesn't always prevent water from entering the space between the insulation and studs/joists (as long as there isn't significant damage).

The Professionals Can Help

No matter the size of your building materials, we can help. Our equipment is designed to mitigate the damage to all of your building materials during a water loss. This means that you will get far more value out of your investment than if you went with any other company in town.

If you’re ready to work with people who care about restoring your property just as much as you do, then call SERVPRO of Southwest Raleigh/ Holly Springs today. 

Other News

View Recent Posts