Flood Damaged Keepsake Furniture Can Be Saved
Removing Flood Damaged Furniture of Mold, Bacteria and Fungus.
Save the Keepsakes!
The first decision is to decide whether the item is worth saving. The ‘worth’ value is not what you can buy a replacement for or what it might cost to restore, but whether the item has intrinsic keepsake value for you. It might be your favorite item, an interesting antique, or your grandmother’s rocker. In almost any case, somehow it can be saved.
Flood damaged water soaked wood items can be safely cleaned without risk to the owner. Kill the contaminates, save the wood, then save the finish.
The concern is the current and future risk from mold, bacteria, and fungus that could be growing on the items. The media and insurers have encouraged individuals to destroy flood-damaged furniture as non-restorable, and even argued if not destroyed that the contamination will spread to other items. Simply not the case.
The First Step:
The sooner the cleaning is performed the better as this will help stop the mold. To clean the existing item apply a liberal application of a household bleach solution mixed 8 ounces of bleach to ½ ounce of dishwashing detergent to two gallons of water. Wear rubber gloves and have plenty of fresh air. Mix and apply with a garden pump sprayer. Wet all surfaces well inside and out, bottom to top. Be thorough. Scrub areas with visible mold extra well and rinse all surfaces well.
You are trying to save the keepsake. It is highly likely that the finish of varnish, lacquer, urethane, or whatever may be extensively damaged, but it can still be refinished. Veneered items will have veneer glue debonding, most of which may be repairable. Joints and board glue-ups may have some shrinkage or expansion, most of which may be rebuilt.
The Second Step:
Stripping the damaged finish with a solvent-based water-rinse finish stripper-remover is a sure way of removing mold, fungus, and bacteria. We are talking about methylene chloride, and not the "environmentally friendly" orange or water based strippers that do not have enough strength. Be sure to also apply the stripper to all surfaces inside outside top and bottom. Also be sure to thoroughly water rinse.
Remember, we are trying to save the item. First save the wood by the thorough cleaning. Then restore the finish by stripping and recreating.
If there is residue smell it can be sealed in by also thoroughly sealing all surfaces as the first stage in refinishing.
Floods, rising waters, and other natural disasters can be devastating and the loss of family heirlooms only adds to the grief. Remember that most can be saved.
Use your friendly professional furniture restorer.
Credit is given to Dave White of Kwick Kleen, a supplier of stripping chemicals to the refinishing trade, in his "Paint Peelers Press" newsletter which has been quoted liberally to help educate our clients.
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