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Furniture restoration following fire, smoke and water damage begins with damage assessment. A content restoration professional could give you factual advice so you can determine the magnitude of the damage and the cost of repair versus the cost of replacement. Based on the advice, property owners can have reasonable expectations about their furniture repair and refinishing outcome. When furniture has been exposed to water for an extended period of time, it may not be salvageable due to potential deterioration and mold. Moreover, if furniture came in contact with dirty or contaminated water, it may be impossible to suitably clean and restore. However, each situation is different and a restoration professional can help determine what items can be saved. When family heirlooms are fire or water damaged, the restoration-versus-replacement decision making process can be complex, as it will be necessary to factor in the sentimental value of the items. Antiques may be expensive to restore, but they are also difficult to replace.
Both solid wood and fabric furniture restoration start with careful cleaning and drying. The initial cleaning is to remove any dirt and has to be done gently so no further damage takes place. The drying part can be a long process because some wood furniture takes up to a few months to slowly dry. In fact, when wood furniture dries too fast or at high temperatures, it may be distorted permanently by cracking or splitting. Wet wood can be damaged quite easily, so slow and even drying works best.
Although wood tends to swell when wet, it will gradually shrink as it dries. Wood furniture drying time may take weeks or even months, so repair should not be rushed into until items are completely free of moisture and dampness. Salvaging solid wood furniture is quite feasible if attended to by a skilled contents restoration professional in a timely fashion. Taking the furniture apart to separate components, inspect the extent of the damage and let the wood dry is standard procedure. If wood furniture has been exposed to mud or debris from flooding, it can be hosed gently to remove the dirt. Special content restoration facilities have ventilated areas designed for slow and even furniture drying, without direct heat to prevent warping or cracking. Qualified technicians check on the furniture regularly to make sure that air moves evenly throughout all parts of the disassembled item. They check on the status of the furniture and take care of issues as they arise. For example, in cases where the wood has bent, special equipment is used to straighten it. If mildew develops while furniture is still wet, it is gently spot removed.
Depending on the extent of the damage, wood veneer furniture may be possible to salvage with quick and timely action. However, the compressed wood, or fiberboard, veneer furniture is made out of is prone to swelling and coming apart when wet. As a result, the laminates and vinyl exteriors become unglued and should be repaired by professionals only.
Fabric is restored either by dry cleaning or steam cleaning methods, depending on the material involved. After the cleaning process is complete, furniture is then ozonated to remove smoke odors, mold and other pathogens. Ozonation is an effective method of treating upholstered furniture and other content after fire and water damage occurs.
Content restoration companies go to great lengths to restore property and possessions. The content restoration industry has proven itself very useful in cleaning and salvaging belongings after fire and water damage situations in residential, commercial and industrial applications. As the industry evolves, more emphasis is being placed on research into safe and effective technological advances to restore belongings. What was impossible to salvage just a few years ago is very doable today, with newer and safer procedures in place.