One of the most common calls we get is people asking about the peculiar changes in their baseboard — seemingly out of nowhere, it has begun to crack, swell, peel, and bubble. What does it mean?!

Sometimes, the answer is obvious — water damage in the room itself is a quick path to baseboard swelling, so if your dishwasher or washing machines have recently experienced a massive leak, it’s a clear sign of water damage.

However, sometimes you see baseboard swelling without any good reason to believe that you have water damage problems in your home. We’ve seen this countless times at ServiceMaster Absolute, so we’re here to give you the rundown on baseboard swelling, and what it could mean for your home.

Baseboard Swelling is a Sign of Water Damage

First, let’s just get this out of the way — baseboard swelling is a sign of water damage. Yes, as we mentioned, this should be obvious if you’ve recently experienced any water-related catastrophes in your home. However, water damage isn’t always obvious, and sometimes the first thing that tips you off to hidden problems in your home is something simple, such as baseboard swelling.

If you haven’t had any spills lately, it’s possible the problem could be behind the walls. Leaky pipes can cause moisture to build up in your home’s internals, and as it pools over time, it can start to affect the drywall, ceiling, and baseboards of your home.

MDF Baseboards

If your baseboard has been swelling, peeling, or bubbling, you probably have MDF baseboards. MDF baseboards (short for multi-density fiberboards) are made up of multiple layers of sawdust and resin. MDF boards are a more affordable alternative to real wood baseboards, and they’re exceedingly common in most standard homes.

There are many advantages to MDF boards, but water resistance isn’t one of them. In fact, the composition of MDF boards makes them especially vulnerable to moisture. MDF boards are porous on a micro scale, making it extremely easy for them to absorb water. And when they do, they will start to warp, which is one thing that’s happening when you see them swelling.

What You Can Do About It


While we generally advocate replacing your baseboards entirely, this is an expense that many people, understandably, don’t want to go through if a DIY option exists. There are situations where your baseboards can be repaired instead of replaced entirely.

  • If you’ve solved the water damage problem for good
  • If they have dried and the swelling has receded
  • If the warping was minimal or barely noticeable
  • If the biggest problem was peeling paint

In these scenarios, you could get away with sanding and repainting your baseboards.


If your baseboards have warped significantly, it’s best to replace them. Solid, straight baseboards are important to have because they protect the junction between wall and floor. Without baseboards, this area is more vulnerable and more open, leaving your home more susceptible to bugs and dust buildup.

When your baseboards swell and warp, they not only look unsightly, they also cease to perform their job. Warping and swelling invariably distorts the position of your baseboard and can create small openings, which defeats the purpose of the baseboard in the first place.

Water Damage Repair and Restoration in San Diego and Riverside

The good news is this — if you’re in San Diego, Riverside, Chula Vista, La Jolla, or any other of the surrounding Southern California areas, we can help you with your water damage problems. Baseboard repair and replacement is business as usual for ServiceMaster Absolute, and you can bet we put the highest level of care and effort into the jobs we do.

If you’re in need of water damage restoration, flood repair, structural repairs, and much more, contact SM Absolute today.