If you walk through your home and notice a soft spot on the floor, don’t ignore it!
Unless you want the spot to grow and possibly damage more of your floor, you need to take the proper steps to fix the soft spot in the floor using our step-by-step instructions.
How To Fix A Soft Spot In The Floor (Step-By-Step)
To fix a soft spot in the floor, you need to learn what caused the soft spot, fix the cause of the problem, analyze the damage, replace ruined building material, finish (if applicable), and dry the area.
Older floors will experience soft spots more often than new floors.
Most people can repair minor and moderate damage themselves with basic tools, but major damage may require the services of a professional water damage repair company and flooring company.
A soft spot on the floor generally indicates water damage.
After you determine the cause of the problem and fix it, you have to address the soft spot in the flooring material.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to fix the soft spot in your floor yourself.
Step One: Assess Damage
The damage to your floor requires an analysis of the damage.
It’s usually a good idea to examine any damage to the walls as well.
You want to know the exact location of the damage as well as the extent of the damage.
You are looking for damaged building material, mold, and any personal items such as rugs affected by the damage.
During this phase of the process, open up the windows to provide ventilation to the area.
Step Two: Replace Ruined Flooring Material
To determine how damaged the building material is, press down on it with your thumb.
If you notice that the material is squishy, it cannot be repaired.
In most cases, you can replace wood and laminate flooring in sections.
This means you can perform a spot repair to the affected space.
Many people feel more comfortable having a professional perform this part of the task unless they have advanced training.
However, you can make it a DIY task.
If you do decide to replace the building material yourself, do your research before you get started.
During your research, note the materials and tools you will need.
Read the instructions and watch videos to learn if you feel comfortable with the work and if you will need any additional hands throughout the process.
Step Three: Apply Finish
Flooring requires a finish.
The finish can make the floor appear more attractive, but it can also add water-resistant properties to the floor.
Use a finish specifically made for the flooring material you have and follow the instructions carefully.
Step Four: Clean Undamaged Building Material
For the surrounding building material that did not require replacement, you should clean it thoroughly with a bleach and water mixture (one part bleach to two parts water).
This mixture will kill any mold, so it doesn’t develop in those areas.
If no building materials required replacement, you may only need to apply the bleach solvent to the affected area.
Step Five: Dry
At this time, you need to dry the topcoat.
The best way to do this is to keep the windows open and turn on fans.
For additional help, you can use a dehumidifier and industrial-grade fan.
Prevent Future Soft Spots
Finally, you want to do what you can to ensure that your newly repaired floor doesn’t get new soft spots.
The three main ways to prevent soft spots are to keep up on your home’s foundation, reduce the possibility of water damage, and keep up on flooring maintenance.
Your foundation doesn’t require too much maintenance.
However, you need to keep an eye out for problems so that you can fix them from the beginning.
Soft spots in flooring are a great example of additional damage that can occur if you don’t repair your foundation when necessary.
You can pay to fix foundation cracks when you notice them, or you can pay to fix larger cracks and floor damage by procrastinating.
Foundation damage can result from the excess weight of your house, rodent holes, and drought/flooding.
Prevent Water Damage
You can’t do anything about rain or snow.
However, you can ensure your home won’t let the water from rain and snow inside.
You can also keep up with maintenance on your plumbing and appliances.
Finally, reduce water damage by being careful around the house.
Many times, water damage occurs due to someone carelessly leaving the water on in a sink or other similar user errors.
Your floor requires a little bit of attention from time to time.
Of course, you clean your floor regularly.
This can give you an opportunity to inspect it for any noticeable problems.
Additionally, apply a water-resistant coating to the floor every couple of years.
You should also make repairs as you notice them.
Soft Spots On Different Types Of Floors
Before you start working on the issue, you should consider the type of flooring material that is affected.
You will handle the situation differently depending on the type of floor that has the damage and the assembly of the floor.
We will cover soft spots on the subfloor, hardwood floor, laminate, and mobile home flooring.
You will not notice soft spots on tile since tile offers high levels of water resistance (making it a great option if you do need to replace the flooring).
Soft Spots In Subfloor
The subfloor is the absolute bottom layer of your floor which is secured to the joists and usually made out of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) panels.
On top of the subfloor is the underlayment.
On top of the underlayment is the top layer of the floor that you see and walk on every day, the flooring.
The subfloor adds to the strength of the floor so that it can support the weight of the furniture and people walking on it.
Most subfloors last the lifespan of the home, but water damage may require you to replace it in 20 or 30 years.
If water damage manages to get to the subfloor, you know that the water damage is deep inside of the home, so you can expect an extensive repair job.
Soft Spots On Hardwood Floor
Who doesn’t love a great hardwood floor?
Hardwood floors look great and make for easy cleaning.
They can even increase the value of your home.
Most hardwood floors also come with water-resistant coating, but the coating only lasts for so long.
After the coating loses its efficiency, it will become more vulnerable to water damage.
To ensure you don’t get soft spots, you should replace the coating every couple of years.
Hardwood is the most common material in traditional houses to experience water damage and soft spots.
Soft Spots On Laminate Floor
Laminate is a cost-effective alternative that often mimics the appearance of wood.
Many families on a budget choose laminate in high traffic areas to cut down on wood repair costs.
It’s also easy to install, which can save on costs even more.
However, laminate flooring doesn’t usually look quite as great as real wood.
It also can’t be sanded in the case of a dent or other problem.
It will need a complete replacement.
Soft Spots On Mobile Home Floor
Floors in manufactured homes (mobile homes) are slightly different from floors in traditional homes since mobile homes don’t come with crawl space or a basement for additional strength.
While most modern mobile homes can provide similar quality to traditional homes in terms of waterproofing, older mobile homes often experience leaks and other moisture problems that can lead to problems with the floor.
The floors also can’t be as thick, so they become damaged more quickly, especially if supporting a lot of weight.
You will notice the most problems with particle board floors.
Causes Of Soft Spots On The Floor
It’s extremely important to understand the cause of the soft spot on the floor.
Three major causes of soft spots include excessive moisture, an expansion gap, an unbalanced subfloor, and pests.
Obviously, one of the major causes of floor soft spots is excessive moisture.
Moisture can come from a variety of different sources, both inside and outside.
Some of the causes of water coming into contact with the floor include:
- Faulty gutters
- Leaking pipes/appliances
- AC Condensation
Start from the beginning by picking building materials that have highly waterproof qualities.
It’s important to keep up on maintenance to your floor to ensure that it can withstand water when it does come into contact with excessive moisture.
You should also keep up on maintenance to your appliances and plumbing.
No Expansion Gap
During the installation of hardwood floors, it is recommended to include a ½” expansion gap around the edges of the room (laminate floors do not require an expansion gap).
Expansion gaps allow the floor to move a bit without becoming damaged.
Regular movement is a normal part of the trauma a floor will experience in its lifetime.
The wood needs the ability to flex slightly without cracking.
Floors must be even in order to do their job properly.
Unfortunately, the land a house sits on doesn’t always remain even.
The ground can become uneven in the case of a drought or extra water getting into the soil, causing a change in its composition.
When the flooring or subfloor suddenly becomes detached from the joists, it can create conditions that lead to soft spots.
Termites love to eat wood, including the floor.
Old wooden floors present the most appetizing option for termites.
You may see the termite for yourself.
If you don’t, you can identify termite damage due to little piles of wood dust.
Additional Signs Of Floor Damage
Sometimes, you may have trouble distinguishing between a soft spot in the floor and the location of a spill that will dry up.
If you’re not sure, look for these other signs of floor damage.
Water damage can bring with it a musty smell.
The smell usually comes from mold and mildew.
Unfortunately, the mold and mildew can get into the air and reduce the air quality in the home.
Extended exposure can lead to sinus irritation and respiratory conditions.
Plus, who wants a home that smells musty?
Wood floors may curl up, and laminate floors may develop bubbles.
This will be a very visible sign and can indicate in problems you may not feel a wet spot.
Minor deformation is not necessarily a cause for concern, but you should pay attention if things get worse.
Squeaking happens when the nails connecting the subfloor to the joists keep coming in and out as you apply pressure.
The nails may come out of the flooring due to water damage deteriorating the structural integrity of the wood.
Final Thoughts On Soft Spots In The Floor
If you notice soft spots in your floor, rest assured that it happens in a lot of homes.
It will likely occur as a result of age and water damage, but you may experience soft spots in flooring for a variety of other reasons, too.
Both wood and laminate flooring can experience soft spots, but tile doesn’t become soft due to water.
To fix the problem, you will need to replace the damaged material, then dry the entire area.
Of course, you shouldn’t do this until you discover the cause of the problem and resolve it.NEXT: Why Are Laundry Pedestals So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)