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Repairing a house after a flood

This information provides general advice on repairing a home after a flood, including types of building materials and techniques to use to ensure the home is more flood resilient in the future.

You should start repair work only when the house is clean of all mud, silt and debris, and is completely dry.

Read more about building and planning approvals you may need after a flood.

Dealing with water damage

Contact with water can be damaging to some building materials. Damage may occur immediately or after prolonged exposure to water.

Before you start repairing or remodelling a building, consider choosing building materials with a higher water-resistant rating. This may help minimise flood damage, and make it quicker and easier to clean up if you're affected by floods in the future.

Choosing water-resistant products

Several available building products have higher water-resistance ratings, and are cost effective and easy to install.

You can use water-resistant products by:

  • replacing kitchen plasterboard wall linings with fibre cement sheeting, then tiling over the sheeting with waterproof adhesive
  • replacing kitchen bench tops with stone or reconstituted stone products
  • using hardwood framing, as it's more likely to withstand water inundation (better than particleboard or pine)
  • using glass blocks to create a feature wall
  • replacing insulation batts in your wall cavities with plastic or polystyrene insulation boards.

Here are more examples of water-resistant materials to use in place of less or non-water-resistant products:

Wall and ceiling lining

Higher water resistance:

  • concrete
  • fibre cement sheet
  • brick or blockwork
  • cement render
  • ceramic wall tiles
  • galvanised steel sheet
  • glass and glass blocks
  • stone
  • plastic sheeting or tiles with waterproof adhesive
  • common bricks
  • solid wood, fully sealed – durable timbers (e.g. hardwood)
  • exterior grade plywood, fully sealed
  • non-ferrous metals.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • particleboard
  • hardboard
  • non-durable solid wood (e.g. some soft woods)
  • interior grade plywood
  • plasterboard
  • particleboard
  • fibreboard or strawboard
  • wallpaper
  • cloth wall coverings
  • gypsum plaster.

Doors

Higher water resistance:

  • solid panel with waterproof adhesive
  • flush marine ply with closed cell foam
  • aluminium or galvanised steel frame
  • flush or single panel marine ply with waterproof adhesive
  • painted metal construction
  • timber frame, full epoxy sealed before assembly.

Although some water-resistant doors may not deteriorate, they can warp or twist, which makes them unusable.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • standard timber frame
  • standard flush hollow core with PVA adhesives and honeycomb paper core.

These products are usually inexpensive to replace.

Bolts, hinges, nails and fittings

Higher water resistance:

  • brass, nylon/stainless steel, removable pin hinges
  • galvanised steel, aluminium.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • mild steel.

This should still be usable if not immersed for prolonged periods.

Windows

Higher water resistance:

  • aluminium frame with stainless steel or brass rollers
  • timber frame, full epoxy sealed before assembly with stainless steel or brass fittings.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • timber with PVA glues
  • mild steel fittings.

Insulation

Higher water resistance:

  • plastic/polystyrene boards
  • closed cell solid insulation
  • reflective foil on external walls.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • materials which absorb water and delay drying, e.g. loose fill
  • open celled insulation (e.g. batts).

Floor covering

Higher water resistance:

  • clay/concrete tiles
  • epoxy or cement like floor toppings on concrete
  • rubber sheets with chemically set adhesive
  • vinyl sheet with chemically set adhesive
  • terrazzo
  • rubber tiles with chemically set adhesive
  • vinyl tiles with chemically set adhesive
  • polished floors and loose rugs
  • ceramic tiles.

Lower or no water resistance:

  • loose fit nylon or acrylic carpet, closed cell rubber underlay
  • wall to wall carpet
  • wall to wall seagrass matting
  • cork
  • linoleum
  • floating timber floors.

Note: This information was adapted with permission from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, NSW Government, Reducing vulnerability of buildings to flood damage, April 2007.

Complying with product standards

Ensure all products and materials you're using to repair the building are suitable for their intended use and comply with the relevant product standards.

Look for symbols on the product or packaging, or check with the manufacturer directly.

A builder or building certifier can help a homeowner to choose the right products.

Making your property flood resistant

There are other things you can do to make a property more flood resilient.

Meter boxes

If you're replacing wiring, consider the location of meter boxes and/or electrical switches.

Placing items higher up on walls may reduce the chance of having to replace wiring in the future. A licensed electrician must perform all electrical work.

Walls

If the water partly damaged the lower level of walls, consider using water-resistant materials on these parts of the walls.

Using hardwood timber panelling or ceramic wall tiles partway up the walls may reduce damage and the cost of rebuilding in the future.

Water tanks

Anchoring a water tank to the ground protects the property and other properties during a flood event.

Garage walls

Constructing a bench along garage walls may reduce the impact of a car hitting the walls during a flood.

Getting approvals

Some repair work will require building development approval, particularly if the work affects structural components of the house.

Checking insurance

We advise that homeowners always check with their insurance provider before entering property after a flood or making any changes.

Also consider...

Contact

Coronavirus (COVID-19) business support: 1300 654 687

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)