Large black oily stain keeps reappearing

Q: I recently inherited an 82 yr old home. The floors had very old (more than 20 years) carpet on them. We removed the carpet and found the original hardwood floor underneath. In 1 spot there is a large black oily stain.

We tried sanding with no success. Mineral spirits seemed to work but 24 hours later the stain is back. It seems to seep up through the floor and is damp to the touch.

Is there anything other than cutting those boards out and replacing them that I can try?

A: If it is a black stain still seeping up after all these years there is no fixing it. You will have to replace the boards. Perhaps you could take some old wood from a closet to do the patch.

Removing peeling coat of paint from old wood floors

Q: We have just moved into a home that was built in the 1920s. It looks like the previous owners painted over old wood floors with a gray paint. The paint is cracking and peeling every time you step on it. I am afraid that the wood underneath it is so old and unkempt that it would need to be covered with something. Any recommendations how to get rid of the peeling paint?

Also, any suggestions on paint that actually works on flooring?

A: A very old floor may have only had wax applied to it. Or shellac. And shellac contains wax unless one get the de-waxed version. Paint and other coatings won’t adhere to wax.

The best way to remove the paint is by sanding. Or you could have someone remove the floor and install a new one.

Sticky dance floor

Q: A charter school that I clean has a dance floor that was redone over the summer. They did not sand the floor, I believe they just resurfaced the floor. It is sticky. Dancers are sticking and falling. Any thing you could suggest to get the floor back to normal?

A: It couldn’t be floor finish itself which is still sticky. It has to be something else which has been applied, or found it’s way onto the finish. I would get a pail of Tie Tac cleaner from Poloplaz. www.poloplaz.com. It does an excellent job of removing contaminants. Mix some in a spray bottle and spray an area, then buff it with a polisher and white pad. After doing this to the entire floor, wet a towel with the cleaner and wrap it around a push broom. Go up and down the floor like a Zamboni machine, adjusting the towel to have a clean edge as needed.

Stain on bottom of socks after refinishing

Q: We refinished 100 yr old redwood floors, 1 coat stain, 3 coats polyurethane. After 2 days, when we walk across it in socks afterwards we can see stain lines from some of the cracks on the bottom of our socks. Why is this? Will it eventually dry?

A: That isn’t something you want to see happen. And this after also applying 3 coats of polyurethane. You must have applied the stain quite heavily, possibly with a lambswool applicator. I always strap on the knee pads and apply it with a cloth, row by row. And after applying to each row you go back and wipe off the excess. Also, if you had used a fast dry stain such as Dura Seal Quick Coat or Poloplaz stains it would have totally dried.

You’ve gotten probably a significant amount of stain between the boards and because it isn’t getting exposure to fresh air it is having trouble drying. This will become even more aggravating if the polyurethane is also not dry and starts to appear on the board edges as little beads. I think I would start by having a fan blowing directly on the floor to try and force dry it. You might also dampen a cloth with mineral spirits and wipe suspected board edges.

Stain appears to have been applied over polyurethane

Q: My daughter bought a house with stain that appears to have been put over the polyurethane several years ago. The stain is now scratched and looks horrible. Any advice on how to remove this stain?

A: This floor needs to be sanded to clean wood and done over. Applying a stain on top of a surface coating such as polyurethane is not going to work. Stain is meant to penetrate into the wood surface with finish on top of it.

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.

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.

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. www.poloplaz.com

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.

Removing glue from cement

Q: I’ve recently ripped up engineered hardwood that was glued to plywood. We also ripped up the plywood (there was so much glue it pretty much came up with the hardwood). The plywood was also glued and screwed into the cement.

We’ve gotten most up but are having issues with the remaining glue. There are some spots with wood still stuck to the glue and we cannot get it up! we’ve tried glue gone, scrapping, paint thinner and hot water and these small spots of gluey wood don’t seem to budge! Any suggestions?

A: Bostik does make an adhesive remover that would likely soften it. You could also rent a machine to help chop up the remaining ply and adhesive. It’s a nasty job.

Solvent to soften black rubber carpet underpad?

Q: I am trying to remove a solidified layer of black rubber carpeting underpad from a hardwood floor.

Can you suggest a solvent to soften it? It seems to respond to acetone-based nail polish remover, but I would need gallons.

A: If it responds to acetone, you can buy that in larger quantities at any paint store. However, be aware that the acetone will also remove any varnish or polyurethane that may be under the padding.

Have you tried scraping it off in hardened state with a drywall trowel or scraper?

If it does chip off, the way to go may be to leave it dry and work at it.

Black dots where area rug pad was

Q: We have a house with 60+ year old oak floors. There were 30+ year old area rugs, that had a reddish/brown pad under them. The pads left black dots across the floor. Can these be cleaned/removed or do the floors need to be sanded?

A: You may have a bit of an issue with this. These black dots are probably water stains from the carpet being steam cleaned or shampooed over the years. The moisture telegraphed to the center of the bumps on the underpad, it sounds to me. So, yes the floors will have to be sanded. Hopefully the stains can be removed. If not you would then have to stain the floors to hide the marks. This all hinges, of course, on whether these old floors are thick enough to handle a full sanding. It depends how many times they have been done in the past and how thick they were originally.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for that info Craig. I should have said that the rugs were never cleaned or wet. A rug guy thought that perhaps the rug mat/pad might have had some clay in it? The dots are uniform across the entire rug area, 1 inch apart horizontally and vertically. Some areas the dots are darker, but again it is uniform.

A: Even a tiny bit of moisture over time could do it. Perhaps dampness from beneath, transferring slowly through the floor over the years. The pad was just another layer to slow that moisture down and trap it against the wood. I did a floor years ago which had that pattern on the wood. It wasn’t even dark spots. It was just the outline of the pattern, as if it had been x-rayed into the wood. It was the strangest thing. It didn’t even sand out.

Put oil on wood floor, now it’s tacky

Q: I have put some D***** oil on my wood floors and now they are tacky. What can I do to get rid of the tackiness? I have tried to buff with microfiber cloths, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

A: I think I would wipe it down with mineral spirits.

Related Q: How do I get an oil-based cleaner off my new engineered, dark hardwood floor? Help! It looks so bad!

A: Try a cleaner such as Bona Kemi floor cleaner, or Poloplaz floor cleaner which can be purchased online. http://www.hardwoodcleaner.com

Floors wrecked by former tenant using some white substance

Q: I had a tenant living in my home and after they left I went to check the apartment.. there’s a nasty aroma and a white substance poured over all the wooden floors throughout the house. It was purposefully put there and the wood was ruined, and all broken apart. Can you tell me what substances can cause wood to be like that and how to remove it?

A: I don’t know. Could it be some type of acid? You could have a sample tested at a lab.

Solvent which was designed to remove glue also softened the finish

Q: I removed the carpet and pad from a hardwood floor, but there was carpet glue all over it. I purchased a solvent which was designed to remove the glue but it also softened the finish in some places and made it tacky. What can I do to fix those spots? Can I put a coat of finish over them?

A: I would give the stairs a good rub down with some fine sand paper and apply a thin coat of finish.

Removing green layer under cement board

Q: The house we purchased recently came with heart pine floors in the living room. There’s carpet and tile in the other rooms. We found out that the wood covers the entire house. The carpet was easy to take out, but in removing the tile, we found this paint/stain green layer under the cement backer-board. It’s not an adhesive since the cement board comes off fairly easy in between screws. Any ideas what this green stuff might be and a good way to remove it? There’s about 500 square feet that I’ll have to use a hand sander on otherwise. Thanks for any suggestions.

A: I’ve sanded many softwood floors that were very old and painted. I’ve never come across green. In any case, the floor probably needs to be sanded to bare wood and re-finished. You may want to consider hiring a professional for this job.

Silicone stuck to laminate wood flooring

Q: I have silicone on my wood flooring laminate (the installer of our wood stove put a mat down and siliconed it to the floor). How can I remove the silicone without damaging the laminate?

A: That is brilliant. I wonder how he got such an idea? I assume you have tried to peel and pick it off and it won’t come off? Denatured alcohol is a good agent to remove contaminants. I would try that.