How to Fix Swollen Wood Furniture

How to Fix Water Damaged Swollen Wood Furniture: 4 Methods

Have you ever wondered how to fix water damaged and swollen wood furniture? Imagine saving up money to purchase new and expensive furniture if you only realize that it has shrunk after a few months because it bubbled up.

Or even worse, a heavy downpour of rain got into the wood, causing the wood to bubble up.

And while you might be tempted to throw it away and get a new one. But you still can get rid of those annoying bubbles. Also, it might not seem like it, but continuously renewing your furniture gets expensive over time.

So, we’ll be going through different methods. Find out what works and find out what doesn’t work for you. Therefore, by the time you’re done reading this article, you will understand how to fix swollen wood furniture.

Why Does Wood Furniture Bubble Up?

fix swollen wood table

Placing warm objects on the surface can cause the wood furniture to bubble up. Water is absorbed by the furniture, and it causes it to bubble up.

Swollen wood can easily ruin your furniture’s appearance, as it makes it look old and scuffed up. Luckily for us, these bubbles can be removed.

And on top of that, realizing why your wood is swollen, can help you maintain your wood furniture and save up some money in the long run.

Now that we know why this happens, we’ll walk you through a couple of methods that will help you fix swollen furniture.

How to Repair Water Damaged Wood Furniture in 4 Methods?

This goes without saying, but the easiest way to prevent swollen furniture is to avoid spilling water on your furniture. However, this sometimes is out of our hands, especially if it is your dinner table.

If you spill water on your wood furniture, wipe it off as soon as possible. Be quick before the water gets absorbed by the wood. But if it’s too late, there’s still some hope for you.

Don’t worry, we won’t have to go to a nearby store just to get a few products. For the most part, we’ll be using products that you probably have at home to wipe and polish.

Method 1: Let the Furniture Dry

Before trying to fix your swollen wood table, let it dry. If you try to speed up this process, the wood could crack, and we don’t want that.

  • Wipe off any residue.
  • Do not leave the furniture outside, as moisture could make things worse.
  • Place it in a warm and dry space.
  • Keep an eye on it.
  • This process could take up to 24 hours.

Method 2: Using an Iron

Using an Iron

A simple way to handle swollen wood furniture is to use an iron to fix water damaged wood furniture. Most people know how to iron, so this should be relatively easy for anyone.

If you have never used an iron, you want to be as careful as possible. You could burn yourself or the wood furniture when doing so.

Things You Will Need

  • An iron
  • An ironing board
  • A rag

Steps to Take

  1. Clean up all the water.
  2. Get a wet rag.
  3. Cover the swollen furniture.
  4. Preheat the iron to a low temperature.
  5. Once heated, hold the iron down for a couple of seconds on top of the rag.
  6. Don’t hold it in one place for long as it could damage your wood.
  7. Remove the rag and inspect the wood bubble.
  8. If the bubble is still there, you might want to keep ironing. Otherwise, try a different method.

Method 3: Get a Needle or a Printer

This method works well when your furniture has shrunk. It allows us to pierce the bubble using a needle or a printer from the side but not the top.

When you pierce the bubble straight down with a needle or a printer, you have made a cut that will try to overlap itself with the excess material of the bubble.

So, get a needle, wood glue, and some wax paper. Any kind of wood glue will do the job. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to use a needle or a printer.

  • Printers have a bigger hole at the tip, but they are a little bit thicker.
  • Needles, on the other hand, are thinner. Therefore, if you want to get to tighter cracks, you may want to get a thinner needle.

Things You Will Need

  • A needle or a printer
  • Wood glue
  • A piece of wax paper

Getting Ready

  • Try piercing a few tiny holes in the bubble.
  • Suck the glue up.
  • Gently push it underneath as far as you can.
  • Squeeze the glue into the swollen wood furniture as far back as the water damage is.
  • Push it down and see the glue popping up.
  • If the wood has a softness when you push it down, and you can see the glue coming out between the cracks in the furniture, you’re doing good.
  • This may cause the furniture to crack a little bit more because you’re getting underneath it.
  • Wipe off the excess glue coming from the cracks.
  • Cut a piece off of the plastic and then lay it over the crack.
  • Place some books on it and let it dry.
  • The books should push the veneer down and glue it down.
  • Now the glue softens the veneer, and then the veneer will flatten.

Method 4: Sanding the Wood and Applying Furniture Oil

Sanding the Wood and Applying Furniture Oil

If your wood is in bad shape, sanding it will get rid of any inconsistency on the surface. Before sanding the surface, you need to wipe off any residue.

Things You Will Need

Steps to Take

  1. Make sure to wear safety glasses and a protective mask before sanding.
  2. Fold the sandpaper.
  3. Rub the sandpaper to and fro with even pressure.
  4. Brush the accumulated dust.
  5. After you’re done sanding, the wood should be quite smooth to touch.
  6. Add furniture oil.
  7. Rub it back and forth for about 15 minutes.
  8. The warmth you generate will get the oil into the wood.
  9. Clean the surface with a rag.
  10. Make sure to clean any oil residue, there should be no oil by the time you’re done.

In any case if you want to repair the cracks in the precess, then you can read this article.

Final Words

As you can see, trying to repair water damaged wood furniture is relatively easy. It takes a little bit of time and effort, but you can finally repair that old wood furniture with these steps.

And the items that you will use are relatively affordable and easy to find. I’m pretty sure most people would instead take a day off to fix their old wood furniture instead of buying a brand new one.

Once you've gotten rid of those bubbles, keep in mind that wood needs regular upkeep to stay looking brand new, such as wiping off dust and not spilling any bleach on it.

We hope that this article was somewhat helpful in how to fix water damaged swollen wood furniture.

Recommended Article To Read:

  1. How to make wood waterproof?
  2. Tips to rehydrate wood furniture
  3. Get good quality moisture meter for wood

23 thoughts on “How to Fix Water Damaged Swollen Wood Furniture: 4 Methods”

  1. Tried the iron method as it was the easiest. Didnt work and….i actually think it looks worse :/ Just made the “wood” softer and peelier.

    1. 1. Can you please let me know how much temperature you used while ironing?

      Because it is supposed to be a gentle process. You cannot rush to fix it.

      2. You can use the method 3: Get a Needle or a Printer according to your situation.

      Printers will be thicker

      Needles are thinner

  2. Hi have an oak dinning table but middle part is veneered. It’s on mdf. I have 3 small water bubbles on it. What is best method to get rid of them. The table is light oak and is lacquered

  3. Hi, I found a beautiful round wooden table at a garage sale. The couple claimed it was an outdoor table and chair set, but after its rained a few times, the table has discoloration, water damage, and the edges cracked/split all around.

    Will the method above, work to save the table? Or should I toss it. By the way, the chairs are fine.

  4. Our front door is swollen in a couple of large areas and someone said that maybe water seeped in at the glazed pane. Do you think it’s fixable?

    1. Hello,

      If your front door only has minimal swelling that is causing it to rub against the frame, you can remove the door and plane down the swollen area with a sander. Anything beyond the most minimal swelling will not be an easy fix. Some swollen doors can’t be fixed at all, any efforts you make to fix them can make matters worse. I would recommend to bring in a professional for his/her expert opinion before you go through the trouble of trying to fix your front door on your own.

  5. How do I get water bubble out of the bottom of my kitchen cupboard, would the dishwasher cause this problem because it’s the doors at either side of the dishwasher. TIA

  6. Solid oak desk with large water spill now has an area about 2′ x2′ that is bubbled (water soaked into cracks in the grain.) Please advise.

  7. I have a groove that goes around my cherry top nightstand. Coffee spilled a little in the groove and the side of the grove there is a small bump on the top of the night stand next to the groove. Hw do I get that down. I’m assuming the moisture got into the veneered groove. This is expensive Hooker furniture in excellent shape.

    1. Hi, The top part of most tables, desks, nightstand(as in your case) and other furniture is made up of thin wood veneer glued to solid wood or processed wood substrate. With time, in many cases the glue bond often fails and the veneer develops blisters. This happens especially when the furniture is subjected to heat and moisture (such as hot coffee like in your case).
      To repair a blistered veneer, carefully slit it open with a razor sharp knife. Next use a glue syringe or a toothpick to apply yellow carpenter’s glue beneath the veneer. Press down lightly on the venneer blister to spread the glue evenly. Then cover the repair with wax paper and a flat wood block, then clamp the blister flat. Let the glue cure for 12-15 hours. Then you can remove the clamp and wax paper, and lightly sand and refinish the surface. Prevent new blisters by applying two coats of varnish or hand rubbed wood oil on the veneer. To avoid this happening again keep anything hot or wet off the surface.

      1. Hi, I can’t clamp the table because the bubble is about 4.5” from the edge. May I use a heavy weight after I slice the wood? I would show you a pic, but no where to submit.

  8. Just bought a new dining table. It is wood (farmhouse look). My Daughter was using an ice pack on he the ankle and she laid it in the table and left it overnight. The table now has a pretty big “bubble or hump” in it. HELP -how can I repair this NEW dining table that I b bought a week ago!!

    1. I am sorry to hear that. Have you tried any of the methods I included in the post? If not you could try method #2 and #3 and see of this fixes your dining table.

  9. Hi I unfortunately left my hutch out in all weather’s on its side. I’ve now taken it inside to find the the bottom half has tilted to one side. Can I correct this. Its solid pine. Thanks 😊

  10. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for writing this article with instructions. Do you think the ironing trick might work on thin acacia veneers? One of my cats knocked over a vase of flowers that was on my roommates dining table overnight and the tabletop has these veneer boards on the top to make the table look farmhouse style, as if it was made of wood boards. They warped on the edges where the water got in. I can’t afford to replace the table but I don’t want to try anything that could make the problem worse, and my roommate is very against having it sanded down. The top is made from “solid wood, engineered wood and acacia veneers” per the product info on the website.

  11. Hi,

    I have an solid pine console table, I used it in my greenhouse as a space to work. But my greenhouse leaked and the table top got wet. it dried before I noticed and because of the hight temp in the greenhouse the middle board of the table swell up and bent upwards, is there any way I can bend it down and make it join in with the other board?
    I can send some pictures if needed as its hard to explain.

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