Medallion is coming up around the edges

Q: We hired a flooring contractor to do our floor which included a feature strip and a compass rose medallion for the center of the floor. Cut to the chase, his references must have all been friends or family because he knew nothing about the process. Now the medallion is coming up around the edges. The medallion has a fiberglass backing, and I am wondering whether with extreme care and lots of time, it just might be possible for me to pry it out of the recess. Any suggestions?

A: I’ve worked with feature strips but never had occasion to install a medallion. If adhesive was used I doubt you will get it out in one piece. I think I would contact the company who made the medallion and get their advice. There is a forum I used to participate on years ago that might be helpful. I knew a guy on there who made medallions. You can do a search and see if you can find an answer.

I am curious as to why the medallion is now lifting. Did he not use enough adhesive or is the adhesive failing? Is the floor under some pressure from moisture imbalance? I’m thinking it is likely poor fastening.

Follow-up Q: The really sad thing is, we had a medallion installed in another house, so we kind of knew some of how it should be done. We supplied the installer with the adhesive brand and type recommended by the maker of the medallion. We told him that the medallion was to be finished at the same time as the floor (sanding etc.). We gave him YouTube sites to watch. We asked if he had ever done any medallion installations and the answer was, “yes.” He apparently, just went about it in his own way.

A few days after the job was done and we could walk on the floor, we noticed that it appeared that glue was oozing out from one area between the edge of the medallion and where the floor was cut out. We put some weight on it and let it set a few days hoping the glue would set up. It never did. We had him come back and look at it and he agreed that yes, the glue was oozing out and the edge of the medallion was lifting. His response was, “What do you want me to do about it?” We told him that he was the professional, that was why we hired him. What do you think should be done?” He said he would nail it down. At that point, rather than have him even try to fix it, we figured the best course was to keep him away from it and from us.

Since that time, it has only gotten worse and glue is now oozing out on the opposite side and the medallion is lifting there too. We are going to contact the maker of the medallion for his take on it. It is very disheartening to investigate references just to find that this contractor, just didn’t know what he was doing and was unwilling to use the help that was provided him. I think he must have just used Liquid Nails or a similar product not appropriate for the application. Thanks for the very timely response.

A: Boy, this is a shame. Can you tell me what adhesive you recommended to him? And you don’t think he used what you recommended? Honestly, I’ve never heard of an adhesive not setting up and drying. Clearly what he used is still active. Maybe I can learn something here too. My guess is, and I likely would have used some type of polyurethane adhesive or Dri-tac. There is a recommendation with at least some polyurethane adhesives to allow 20 minutes or so for it to skim over. A ‘wet lay’ can be used too but you risk having adhesive squirt up the edge of the board. But I’ve never heard of adhesive not drying.

Joints between boards have turned black

Q: We purchased a house with blonde hardwoods with an oak border in the kitchen.

Around many of the blonde boards, the joints between the wood have turned black, presumably due to dirt. Brushing and scrubbing will not remove it. Any recommendations?

A: It sounds to me more like the finish is de-laminating or chipping off. Exposed wood will eventually turn black. If this is the case the only cure is a full sanding and finishing.

Old sticky glue all over previously carpeted oak floor

Q: I bought an old farm house. I tore up the old carpet in the dining room and found out that the previous owner had glued down the padding. How do I get the old glue up? The padding pulls away from it. It’s an old, dark brown, sticky glue. Under this old glue is a beautiful oak floor.

A: This floor will have to be professionally sanded. It isn’t a very glamorous job and it has to be determined that the existing floor can handle a full sanding.

Thin, long slivers of the flooring coming off

Q: We moved into a home 2 years ago. The previous owner had installed hardwood strip flooring throughout the main level. The flooring may be about 8-12 years old. We noticed that thin, long slivers of the flooring are constantly popping up and coming off between strips, leaving a crevice about 1/8′ wide, and in some places as long as 2′.

Can you tell me if this can or should be fixed, or should we consider replacing the floor entirely?

A: Is this wood filler that is popping out or are the edges of the boards cracking off? A floor this age shouldn’t have to be replaced, but it sounds, especially if this is filler that something wasn’t done quite right at the time of installation and the floor suffered excessive shrinkage.

Follow-up Q: This is the actual wood, not filler.

A: This is an indicator that the floors have been sanded to the maximum and are now too thin. With any movement in the board, or even a humidity spike, very thin edges can break off. The floors need to be replaced.

Related Q: The hardwood floors in my hallway are chipping. I keep stepping on the fragments at night. Is this a sign of water damage? How should I go about fixing the problem?

A: A sign of water damage would be cupping and heaving. Chipping? Do you mean pieces are breaking off the edge of the boards? That can result from a floor that has been sanded too many times, especially when there is significant movement in the sub floor. In a case like that, replacement is in order.

Best way to remove glue from concrete slab?

Q: We are removing an old parquet floor. What is the best way to remove the glue left behind on the concrete slab?

A: I’m not sure what kind of adhesive you are dealing with. If it typical white or pink parquet adhesive, it is water soluble. I’m not suggesting you flood the floor, but you might wet a small area with warm water and see if it loosens the adhesive.

If it doesn’t scrape off you might have to rent a type of polisher which has 3 heads and can have special attachments for scarifying the concrete. Those would be your main choices. Floor scraper or machine for removing adhesive from a rental. Or hire someone who has the equipment.

Oily blotches appearing on wood floor

Q: I recently removed the carpet and pad from a house I purchased to uncover hardwood floors. As the temps and humidity rise there are oily blotches appearing. But nothing in the dining room where the wood floors were already exposed. Any idea what these oily areas might be and what do you suggest I do to fix it? Also, have you had any experience with a Diamabrush disc for removing adhesive from hardwoods? I have pictures of the floor if you’d like to take a look.

A: These oily patches could be almost anything. I did one such floor once and after I removed all the old finish an oil, [probably] linseed kept oozing form the wood everywhere. In the end it didn’t cause an issue. On another one it wasn’t oil at all. It was pet urine. The previous owner had rolled some paint sealer on the hardwood and the urine was blocked beneath waiting to be release. That floor had to be replaced.

Pictures are always good. That carpet adhesive, if that is what it is, could be removed by a professional floor refinisher with his sanding equipment and rough sand paper.

Damp mopping causing dark spots?

Q: I have customer — we clean their house every week. Part of our process is to damp mop the hardwood floors throughout the home. We use a mild peroxide based cleaner that is diluted according to manufacturers directions for the damp mop (EcoLab). Recently three dark spots appeared on the floors, blackish and about 12 inches in diameter. one has a sharp side about two inches running parallel to the carpet. The owner thinks we left too much water on the floors and it caused these spots. I sent pics to a local hardwood floor company and they said it looked like dog pee — I ordered a blacklight. The owner is sure their dog didn’t do this and that we put too much water on the floor. The owner said he talked to friends who work in the flooring business and they are certain that it was caused by water damage. BTW it has also been raining here off and on for a month in NC. If the black light shows markings then I will discuss the uric acid issue – but if not, what should be my next step to assess this?

A: Is there a basement under this room or just a crawl space? For your own benefit I would suggest using a floor cleaner manufactured by either wood floor manufacturers or floor finish manufacturers. You can spray mist a section of the floor and then wipe over it with a dry cloth or micro weave or terry cloth mop. This cleaners evaporate quickly. Companies that make such cleaners include Poloplaz, Basic Coatings and Bona Kemi. Leaving any amount of liquid on a wood surface long enough is bound to create a water stain. My guess, given the marks as you describe, sure sounds like pet stains. I’m not sure what to suggest. A pet who normally never goes in the house can suddenly change for several reasons, two of which would be health issues and emotional upset. Have you ever noticed wet areas when first entering this home because this sounds like it has been repeated more than once in the same spot.

Follow-up Q: I haven’t noticed wet areas. There is a basement under the house although I’m not sure if it spans under the affected areas. We have cleaned this house 3 times and we use microfiber cloths that have been rung out. Even if the were not fully rung out it is hard for me to envision that they would leave enough water behind. The pet is in the house but the owner says there was never a problem before. We also have had more rain in the last month than I recall. I Will send you some pics of the spots. Thank you for responding.

A: Why these significant black spots in a few spots, because it seems to indicate standing moisture of significant amount..

Follow-up Q: The other question I guess I have is if I want to get an unbiased expert opinion on this , someone I could pay to come out. Would a building inspector be the right person? Or someone from a flooring company? It seems that in order to fix a spot you need to know what the root cause is. Where would one go to get someone who would take an educated scientific approach to figuring this out?

A: Contact the National Wood Flooring Association. They do have certified inspectors. If you go this route, I’d be interested to know what his conclusions are. Thanks.

Droplet marks on our floor where rug cleaning machine leaked

Q: We have a dark walnut prefinished floor with a urethane coat. My husband cleaned our rugs with a rented machine, which needed a cleaning of it’s own. Now there are drop marks on our floor where the machine leaked. I used ‘** Hardwood Floor Polish’ and tried to buff the floor. Nothing works.. Help!

A: Give this cleaner a try:

Accidentally put floor polish on pre-finished hardwood floors

Q: I accidentally put floor polish, instead of cleaner, on pre-finished hardwood floors. You gave me a solution to try 1/3 water, 1/3 ammonia, 1/3 Windex. It worked but I have apx 1200 square feet of flooring. You indicated that if it didn’t work I should call back for a product. I can’t find this number, so please advise if the product would be more effective.

A: I don’t think you got that formula from me. I wouldn’t mix ammonia and bleach, if the Windex contains that.

At any rate, Poloplaz has a cleaner called tie tac that does a very good job of removing contaminants.

1′ x 1′ Area where the wood is white.. or lacking stain

Q: I recently bought a 107 year old house. Upon ripping up the carpet I discovered beautiful, finished hardwood flooring. However, it seems (also told to me by seller) that the previous tenants (was a rental) had a dog (were not suppose to) and by the smell and sight, this dog went wee in the house.

There is a 1′ x 1′ area where the wood is white or lacking stain. Is this perhaps caused from the acid in the urine and soaking through? This is in the spare room, but I fear finding more of these spots, as this is a 2,200 sq. ft. home and mostly carpeted.

How should I approach this? Should I clean the floors first and restain? Clean and cover it with a rug? Only kidding. It also seems this house has had carpet for the last 21 years while in hands of last owner. He took GREAT care of this beauty, phew. Just need help with how to approach cleaning these poor suffocated wood floors. Thank you, in advance, for any help you may be able to lend.

A: Uric acid always makes the wood go black, not white. Black spots? You might have to change the boards.

Removing residue from carpet padding

Q: I removed carpeting that I have shampooed in the past. I am assuming that when I did this the carpet padding became damp, thus causing some of the padding to stick to the hardwood. I was able to remove the padding, but it left behind a residue. So, my hardwood looks spotty, where I cleaned the padding off. How would you suggest I (try) to remove this residue?

A: Mineral spirits and elbow grease should help to soften it up.

Similar Q: I pulled up wall-to-wall carpet in a bedroom, and the entrance area has blotches of film from padding. What is the best way to clean this? The house was built in 1979, so it is a waxed wood floor.

A: Scrape off as much of the underpad possible with a putty knife. Rub off the rest with fine steel wool dampened in mineral spirits and dry. Apply a little wax to the area, if wax is the finish currently on the floor.

Yellow highlighter colored marks on floor

Q: Hello, we just discovered stains that look to be small splatters of liquid on our light hardwood floors. They are the color of yellow highlighter. The house was brand new when we moved in, in January, nine months ago. We hadn’t noticed them until this afternoon. We cannot figure out what they might be. They seem to trail across the kitchen. We’ve tried Dawn with water, a magic eraser, peroxide, vinegar, a scrub daddy.. Someone suggested oil soap, which we need to buy still, so we haven’t tried it yet.

A: I have no idea what the yellow spots are but the last thing you want to use is an oil soap which can leave a residue on the finish which both dulls the finish and creates adhesion issues if you want to re-coat the floor. Try a little alcohol or some floor cleaner from a manufacturer who makes products for floors finished with polyurethane.

Worn foot path won’t sand out

Q: I first did a spot sand on the worn foot tracks in a hallway of a pine floor and the sanding looked pretty good. Then it was decided to just sand the whole hallway for fear the spot sanding would not match the rest. After doing a full sanding and cleaning up the excess dust, I applied a natural stain to the floor. As the stain dried, you can still see where the worn foot tracks were prior to sanding. I am in a time crunch and would like to know if putting a 2nd coat of natural stain on the outer areas of the walk path would darken it up to blend in with the darker walk path or should I just keep sanding the worn path? I really don’t want to as the floor is pine. Thank you.

A: Okay, so old pine floor sanded and finished natural which had worn finish, exposing the wood. These areas are a different colour. I don’t think there is much you can do to change this. Apply 3 coats and be happy with the less than perfect appearance. It isn’t a piece of furniture and sunlight does cause colouration issues with everything.

ISO 1 inch wide 3/8 thick maple wood flooring for repair

Q: I need to find about 200 sq feet of 1 inch wide 3/8 thick maple wood flooring to repair an area from water damage. Any suggestion as to where I can locate this?

A: I’m not going to be able to help you with this one. I’ve seen flooring with those dimensions 2 or 3 times in over 40 years and those were always oak. You are going to have to get this milled yourself. Sounds like a real joy to install!

Follow-up Q: Do you know of a source, if we were to go with oak instead?

A: You should check demolition companies. I do think your chances of finding this are close to zero.

Related Q: How do you replace floor planks that do not have a tongue and groove? Who sells these planks? The floor is red oak. It is a finished floor from the 1950’s. It is 1/4′ thick and 2 1/4′ wide and nailed to the subfloor. We need to replace several boards due to dark stains in conspicuous places. The boards are not tongue and groove. We have checked local lumber and flooring stores in our area (Louisville, KY) and no one seems to have what we need. Any ideas?

A: I’ve never heard of these dimensions. Usual thickness is either 3/8 or 3/4. And no tongue and groove? where are the boards nailed? Through the face?

Only thing I can suggest is making your own. You can get 2 1/4 wide, 3/4 thick. Find someone with a decent table saw, remove the tongue and cut it to thickness.

Related Q: I have the Seaman Kent flooring in my house as per your article. I’m in Duncan, BC. I am looking to match some small pieces, but don’t know where to source it from.

A: The flooring doesn’t have to be made by Seaman-Kent. The dimensions of their old product are still available either in 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 wide, 3/8 thick. Any hardwood retailer who sells unfinished strip can provide you with what you need. Woodchuck Flooring Inc. in Scarborough is one example.

Dark spots under finish that look like blood splatter

Q: I have a house that was built in 1910 in Crescent City, FL that has heart pine floors throughout. These floors were professionally finished about 9 years ago with I believe a poly finish. I am only there once a week but noticed numerous dark spots on a small area of the floor that looked like blood spatter, that is the easiest way to describe it. When I tried to clean it up I realized it was under the finish, and if I try to scrape the area it turns slightly gray. The house sits off the ground about 12″ on a concrete wall with a sub-floor under the heart pine with a sandy soil as the base. What could cause spots like this to appear after over 100 years? There is nothing under this area that could heat it up and no water damage. I am wondering how I am going to spot strip the area and match the finish. Have you heard of anything like this before? Thanks for your help.

A: That it turns gray when you scrape it indicates to me it is a moisture stain. Perhaps some mold forming from excess moisture coming from beneath the floor? That’s my best guess.

Related Q: Our laminated flooring, on a slab house, is turning dark. Is this mold? Could it be the wrong glue was used?

A: I would wonder if there is enough moisture to create an environment for mold. Why aren’t there other obvious signs of water issues such as curled edges? I would contact the manufacturer of the flooring.

Rug left area of Bamboo darker

Q: I have Bamboo flooring in my dining room and my grand room. We had an area rug in front of the sitting area and have now taken it up. It left that area of the Bamboo darker.

Is there any way we can get it to match the rest of the Bamboo?

A: The only way I know is to leave it exposed until it catches up to the rest of the floor. Some floors and wood will change more rapidly than others. Jatoba can show marked colour change in a week or two. It really is just a matter of patience and time.

It is not likely this bamboo has been installed for very long so you shouldn’t have that long to wait.

Flea bombs took off finish or left dull spots

Q: I had to use some flea bombs in my house because of a flea problem we were having. They seem to have taken some of the finish off our floors in places, and we are now left with many dull spots. What can I bring the shine back with?

A: I would clean the floors really well first with an approved polyurethane cleaner made by one of the following companies. That should remove any chemical residue. If the finish is damaged, the floors may have to be buffed and re coated.

What to do when finish is worn off, no money to refinish

Q: My wood floors are old with no finish left. I can’t afford to have them refinished as I am a senior on SS. They are dirty and need cleaning. How do I clean them without too much expense?

A: If there is no finish the wood will become grey like barn board. The only way to get rid of that (and it will go darker as soon as any type of coating is applied) is to sand the floor to clean wood.

Aside from that, why don’t you try a bit of wax in one spot and see how it looks?

Related Q: My husband and I need to have a hardwood cleaner that will remove dirt without wrecking the finish. We have some badly worn parts on our floors too, as our kids are pretty rough on stuff. There is wear from high traffic.

What kind of cleaner do you recommend? Can there be patch jobs done without having the whole floor redone?

A: Any areas discoloured due to lack of finish protection need to be sanded clean to bare wood. If you finish or re coat entire boards affected it will not show as such a patch job.

Good polyurethane cleaners are for example: Bona Kemi Pacific Floor cleaner, Basic Coatings Squeaky Cleaner, Mirage Floor cleaner, the one from Poloplaz etc. Any local flooring supply should carry one of these. If not, contact Poloplaz.

Can I apply more layers of varathane without sanding or screening them first?

Q: My house was built in the 1780s. It still has the original wide plank flooring. When I bought it 15 years ago, most of the floors were covered in paint, asbestos tiles and linoleum. I pulled all that up, sanded them down and applied 3 coats of oil based varathane.

The wood is pine and having dogs running around has taken its toll. Can I apply more layers of varathane without sanding or screening them first? I don’t care about imperfections just don’t want the wood exposed.

A: You will have to abrade the existing coating first to gain adhesion, whether you use a polisher and screen or get down on hands and knees with fine sand paper and lightly but thoroughly sand the entire floor. Before I did that I think I’d wipe the floor down with a good cleaner such as Poloplaz, Basic Coatings or Bona Kemi makes. This will remove any contaminants such as oils or other residues which may have gotten on the finish and can cause adhesion issues. Thoroughly abrade all the finish. Vacuum up the fine dust. Wipe down with a micro weave cloth and apply coat.