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Document Restoration

In the aftermath of a fire or flood, some of the most treasured and irreplaceable contents include important documents, books, and photos. Buildings can be rebuilt and furniture replaced, but will paper documents or precious photographs ever be the same? Thanks to years of paper recovery experience and expert development of proprietary paper document restoration processes, BELFOR’s National Technical Services Division can help you save those sensitive and treasured documents.

What Types of Documents and Media Can Be Restored?

As the world leader in property restoration and disaster recovery, our BELFOR specialists are also trained and experienced in document recovery and paper document restoration. Thanks to advances in technology and equipment, our expert team can recover and restore almost any type of document, from standard paper document restoration to restoring damaged photographs and recovering documents on other media. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Book restoration
  • File, magazine, and manuscript restoration
  • Restoration of archives, special collections, and library materials
  • Restoring audiotapes and videotapes
  • Drawing, map, plan, whiteprint, and blueprint restoration
  • Recovering compact discs, diskettes, laserdiscs, and magnetic media
  • Data file and vital record recovery
  • Photo restoration, including film, negatives, and slides
  • Microfiche and microfilm restoration
  • Parchment restoration

BELFOR document wash

How Is Paper Document Restoration and Photo Restoration Done?

It is vital for any damaged document or damaged photograph restoration to be carried out as soon as possible for the best possible recovery results. Our experts use a range of scientific processes, coupled with industry-leading equipment, to effectively restore your documents.

Flood-Damaged Document Restoration

Flood-damaged photographs and water-damaged documents may seem beyond repair, but our professional team at BELFOR is fully equipped to safely recover documents before it’s too late. If important paper documents or photographs are exposed to water, BELFOR’s document restoration specialists use desiccant drying, vacuum freeze dryers, thermal vacuum freeze dryers and molecular sieves specifically designed to restore books, documents, and photographic and paper materials. Often, after drying is completed, no further restoration is required.

dirty map before    dirty map after

The BELFOR National Technical Services Division’s paper recovery professionals proudly inventoried, packed, transported, treated, repackaged, and restored one of the world’s largest Herbaria collections at the prestigious Harvard University.

Fire-Damaged Document Restoration

If there has been a fire or there is leftover damage from smoke, BELFOR’s paper document recovery and restoration process includes state-of-the-art cleaning methods such as particulate removal sponges, ionized air washing, and a variety of deodorization techniques.

using sponges to clean documents

Mold-Damaged Document Restoration

If vital documents are infected with mold, mildew, or bacteria, the document restoration process can include sterilizing the items using gamma radiation or electron beam radiation. Individual pieces of paper or an entire library can be saved from further contamination and decay.

BELFOR is also one of the few restoration companies that can perform asbestos and lead removal on documents.

molded book removal

Other document recovery services offered by BELFOR include:

  • Straightening, realignment, trimming, reprocessing—removing or repairing portions with permanent damage
  • Rematting and reframing
  • Rebinding and leather repair
  • Re-jacketing—replacing damaged folders or jackets on vital contents
  • Document copying and imaging—replacing damaged records
  • De-acidification

BELFOR document center

BELFOR’s Document and Photo Restoration Laboratories and Mobile Equipment

BELFOR has the largest inventory of both fixed and mobile freeze-dry chambers in the industry. While we have the equipment to freeze most documents on-site, the majority of document projects are frozen, inventoried, packed, and shipped to a BELFOR Document Lab for further recovery. We have proven procedures and methodologies for quickly and safely packing valuable materials, ensuring that an accurate and meaningful inventory is created and that materials are moved to a safe location without further damage.

loading documents into freeze dry chamber


With the highest number of trained document recovery staff in the industry, almost all document restoration functions are performed in-house using proprietary BELFOR protocols. Our document technicians receive special training, including HIPAA-awareness training.

All BELFOR document restoration facilities have security measures in place—including secure access and video monitoring. The buildings are fenced, and a passcode is required to enter the facility. Because we perform a large amount of government work, special security measures can be added if required.

BELFOR document restoration laboratories are located strategically around the world. In North America, we operate document labs in Fort Worth, TX; Exton, PA; Hayward, CA; Surrey, BC, and Toronto, ON.

As with any damage caused by an emergency or disaster, it is vital to begin document recovery and restoration procedures as soon as possible. In the event of an incident or emergency, contact our 24-hour hotline at 800-856-3333 and let our team help you.