Sticky film from rug

Q: I just moved. My new hardwood floor was left with a light sticky film from an area rug that the previous owner had. How can I remove the sticky residue? It is not thick, it is just slightly sticky and when light shines on it it looks like a light whitish film is on the floor.

A: I would think a polyurethane cleaner would work, provided that is the type of finish on your floor, not oiled or waxed. Poloplaz has their version of such a cleaner as do Basic Coatings, Boa-Franc (mirage) and Bona Kemi. Poloplaz also has an even stronger cleaner called tie tac.

Whoever put the carpet in glued it down

Q: The house I bought has old carpet in the bedroom. I lifted the carpet and found hardwood floors. The problem is that whoever put the carpet in glued it down! The carpet comes off easy enough, but the underpad is glued to the floor. The carpet looks like it is 20-25 years old. How do I get the glue off the floor? Do I have to sand and stain the floor? Should I just by a new carpet and cover it up? Help!

I am wondering what kind of fool glues carpet down over hardwood?

A: Someone who doesn’t understand the value of a wood floor and hasn’t a clue what they are doing. Sounds like a description of quite a few (unqualified) DIY persons.

The only practical way I know of to remove this is to sand it off. I would recommend a professional. You will have to decide beforehand if the floor is thick enough to take an aggressive work out, which will be needed. Also, how tight or how many gaps are in the floor? If there are a lot of gaps, it is unlikely you will remove the adhesive from between the boards. Carpet is a cheap, temporary solution. If it seems ill advised to try to sand this floor, removing it and installing a new 3/4 thick floor is the long term solution.

Related Q: We tore up our carpet to find that we have nasty yellow/tan glue over our hard wood floors. We have scrapped, planed, and started to use some paint thinner. Could we use a drum sander with 16 grit paper to remove this glue?

A: You know about 16 grit sand paper? Well yes that would be the way to do it. I’ve done my share. Keep in mind the thickness of the floor can help determine if doing this is worth while or not. By thickness I am particularly referring to the thickness from the top surface of the board to the top of the tongue and groove. If that gets thin the wood will start splitting.

Follow-up Q: I’ve spent many hours crying over this project I really wanted.

We attempted 40 grit and it gummed up. So I didn’t know what we should use. They are original hardwood floors, I will check the wood depth in the vent. What is a good “thickness” that 16 would be acceptable. I hand planned all the glue off in the dining room. I don’t think my arm can handle the massive living room.

A: You may have wanted to hire a professional for this job, but you are into it now. If this is old style strip, you only have 3/8 or half inch from top to bottom. The wear layer is much less than this. If you start seeing nail heads appearing on the board edges you are going to be about done with this floor. If it is 3/4 thick you should be good. Sometimes people do this sort of glue down over hardwood because the floor is in really bad shape. other times it is because they don’t have a clue what they are doing. Hopefully in this case it is the latter, not the former.

Removing soft putty from nail holes

Q: I used wood putty instead of a sandable wood filler on some shelves that I built and now I find out that the putty does not get hard. Ouch, my stupidity I know, but do you know of a way to remove the putty from the nail holes so I can then use a sandable filler and paint over? Thanks in advance.

A: If you are painting over the putty would it matter if it gets hard or stays soft? I would use a nail the same size as the hole to remove the putty if you wish.

Gyprock dust on new floors

Q: We have the same old issue of gyprock dust on new floors. I vacuumed as best I could and of course used a mop after, which I shouldn’t have! We have done our best to clean out the muddy mixture in some of the grooves. I wanted to ask.. seeing as we’ve done all that, do you think a coat of natural oil will improve the result? We were thinking that if we oil it and create some moisture some of the dust spots will reduce to a degree.

A: Drywall dust is very nasty as you know. I read of one case in the NWFA magazine of a prefinished floor newly installed in a house being built. The floors weren’t protected and a lot of drywall dust got between the boards. They decided to wet mop the floors which re-activated the drywall dust and caused the floor to cup badly so that they had to rip out the floor.

I’m assuming your floor is finished with a top coat such as urethane. In such a case, you don’t want to be applying an oil on top of that. Best bet is to get some proper cleaner for floors like this which leave no residue, do a good job of removing contaminants on the surface and evaporate away quickly. There are quite a number of such cleaners available and your local wood floor distributor should carry one of them. Either the cleaner from Poloplaz, Bona Kemi, Basic Coatings, Boa-Franc etc. Continue to try and remove as much compound from between the boards as you are able, perhaps using a crevice tool to increase and focus the suction. I would think that eventually any dust you can’t remove will eventually vibrate down to the sub floor.

Sticky residue from area rug

Q: I have an area rug that has been on top of a non-slip rug pad for a few years. The pad left a sticky residue on my wood floor and I was wondering what would be the best way of breaking down the stickiness so I can leave the floors uncovered?

A: You can try a polyurethane floor finish cleaner provided your floors have that type of coating. Products such as Poloplaz Hardwood Floor Cleaner, or similar from Bona Kemi, Basic Coatings, Min Wax, etc., most of which can be purchased from any local hardwood distributor. If that isn’t aggressive enough Poloplaz has a more aggressive cleaner called Tie Tac.

Removing glue from subfloor

Q: I removed glued down engineered hardwood and some glue was left. I am replacing the old floor with stapled down engineered wood. Do I need to remove all glue residue and if so, what is the best way to go about removing glue from subfloor?

A: There are adhesive removers, but if there is a lot to remove that won’t work given the cost. You are probably going to need a sharp chisel, a hammer and a pair of knee pads to remove enough that the floor is reasonably smooth.

Similar (Earlier!) Q: We want to remove a Bruce maple 3/8th inch hardwood floor that someone adhered to the subfloor with a glue or mastic. I have used a hammer and chisel. There is 1000 square feet to remove. I was thinking it might be easier to cut it out all together including the sub floor and start over. If we remove the wood and then end up with this glue all over the subfloor, I don’t think we can get the glue up to have a nice clean surface for the new wood…

A: I think you are probably right in your assessment. For the amount of slugging it will take to remove 1000 feet of this engineered floor and then have to rent a special machine to claw off the adhesive, you would be well ahead of the game to just cut it in sections right through the sub floor and start over. A bonus to this is you can check the joists for being level and if any shimming needs to be done you could take care of that too.

Related Q: Does glue need to be removed from the subflooring before the felt pad is laid underneath the hardwood flooring?

A: Well, I don’t know what flooring you are installing but in any case the sub floor needs to be fairly flat without significant lumps, ridges, etc.

Black gunk like polyballs

Q: Every fall this hard black gunk appears in one exact spot on my hardwood floors. It appears to be coming up through the crack, and the only thing that removes it is my steam mop or a sharp blade. I’m not concerned about HOW to remove it, but more so about what it this black gunk and how do I prevent it from coming back?

A: I’m not certain but it almost sounds like you had your floor stained dark and some of the stain and finish seeped between the boards where, devoid of fresh air it has stayed soft and every once in a while squeezes up to the surface. However, this phenomena called poly balls generally occurs in spring and summer when humidity is higher and you can get some expansion of the boards.

As a side note, I would not recommend a steam mop be used on a hardwood floor.

Removing Applique from Hardwood Floor

Q: We own a rental and did work there recently. The tenants had put up a dartboard and put a Budweiser applique of some type, which is 4 inches by 12 inches, on the hardwood floor as the “throw from” line. Will this damage the floor? I tried to see if it would peel up simply (it’s about 1/16-1/8″ thick) and it wouldn’t budge. I don’t think it’s been down long. Will it damage the floor and should it be taken up as soon as possible and if so, in what manner? Any tips for removing applique? If the floor is damaged, any suggestions? Thank you.

A: I would take it up as soon as possible. I’d likely try to use a 10 or 12 inch flat blade trowel to get under it and scrape it off. You will likely have to find a solvent to dissolve the adhesive I think it was held down with. Any scratching of the finish will have to be buffed with fine abrasive and re-coated.

Spilled polyurethane on a Formica table top

Q: I have a spill of polyurethane on a Formica table top that has been there for several months. Is there any way to remove spilled polyurethane?

A: I would try an X-acto knife with a sharp blade and carefully slice it off. If you can get it down to the point where there is little of it remaining, the rest could be rubbed off with a cloth dampened with acetone.

Fungi or black mold in wood flooring

Q: We had our apt floor put in 4 years ago when we renovated. A few months later small black spots started appearing and have grown in number. They are mostly circular and dark black and mostly around the dining room table, but not all right under it. I don’t believe they are from anything we spilled. Near the sink and front door (where there’s much more traffic, moisture, etc.) there are no spots. We have no pets (unless children count). I read a post somewhere that said these black mold in wood flooring (?) spots are mysteries and the best explanation might be fungus that was in the trees themselves. Any advice?

A: I think I would agree with the idea of a fungus from the tree and just by bad luck happened to be in the few pieces you see. Best bet is probably simply to replace the affected pieces.

747 Grease remover was used to remove glue, now it is seeping back up between floor boards

Q: Help! We just removed linoleum from our wood floor and the guys used 747 silicone grease remover to remove the glue. It has seeped down into the floor and I can’t get rid of it. I’ve used Simple Green several times, and then tried 409 (per the grease remover manufacturer). It looked like it was working, but the grease just keeps seeping back up between all the floor boards. Any suggestions? Would TSP be worth a try? Are my once perfect hardwood floors ruined? Advice would be much appreciated.

A: While I’m not familiar with these products it seems clear they have dissolved the adhesive and have either caused it to seep between the boards or has softened adhesive that was between the boards. You may have been better off to have a professional floor company sand off the adhesive instead. Now you will have to hope this matrix will dry and harden. Can you scrape off what is oozing out from between the boards? I would also contact the manufacturer of the solvent for their advice.

Follow-up Q: Thanks so much for answering!

Yes, I know the floor guys should have sanded the floor, but they kept saying there was too much glue and they couldn’t. I’ve had a lot of floors done and never had them not be able to do it. But, at this point, it’s a moot point.

I believe the Sentinel 747 Adhesive Remover is what’s seeping up. It’s not goopy at all, it’s just like oil stains (looks wet). The manufacturer said to use Simple Green or 409 (or any degreaser) to lift the product out. Although some of it seems better after several applications, the stains keep seeping up. Someone suggested TSP but I’m afraid of permanently damaging the floors with grease removers. Maybe over time it will work itself out enough to refinish the floors? The floor guy doesn’t think, at this point, the polyurethane will stick to the floor. Of course, this is the same floor guy who said he couldn’t sand off the glue. At this point I’m just trying to see if anyone else has had this experience or has any suggestions, words of wisdom.

A: I would give it a week to see if all this dries and hardens. If you are going to try something else, just do a tiny spot, not the entire floor. That will be your test spot.

Follow-up: Yea, that’s kind of what I figured. Time will tell. Last night I thought of Dawn. Heck, they use it to clean up oil spills! Going to do a test today and then just wait. Wish me luck!

Polyurethane pooled in all the heat vents

Q: Due to a hardwood refinishing job w/ improper preparation my entire home has polyurethane pooled in all the heat vents. What are the health concerns and how do I remove it?

A: There shouldn’t be any health concerns. Once the finish is hardened the mineral spirit solvent has left the film. I would probably use a chisel, sharp knife or some type of scraper to remove the finish from off the pipe.

Oil poly pushing up through seams

Q: I inspected a job today where the oil poly was pushing up through the seams. The sanding was done in Feb., there was heat in the house. It was a sand, sealer and two coats of oil semi gloss. No stain? I am going back in August to resand, this time using waterborne product. I want to determine why the poly is pushing up before I do it over and have it happen again. The moisture reading was 6%. Red oak #1.

A: That has happened to me once in 40 years. It is a disappointing event to be sure and is partly just bad luck. You will need to keep wiping them off (if they are wet) or chipping them off with a putty knife if hard and keep doing that until it has stopped. I attach a short article about this condition called poly balls / polyballs. It deals with gym game line paints and polyurethane involved with this problem.

Follow-up Q: The poly is hard. Would a screen and coat fix the issue, or a complete resand?

A: I would try a screen and re-coat but I think I would try and scrape any bb’s down a bit. You know, if they get stuck on the bottom of the screen what is likely to happen. Major scratching and swirl marks.

Follow-up: I agree. Thanks for all your help!

Peanut butter, oily contaminant on wood floor

Q: I have Junckers hardwood flooring in my house, except for the bedrooms. It is a light maple colour and it is oak. It has held up really well for 9 1/2 years except for my kitchen, which has faded. I had a refinishing contractor over today that had been highly recommended and has been in the business a long time. He was going to do a light hand sanding to just my kitchen and adjoining small den area and apply finish. As we talked, I started telling him about what I had used to try to bring the colour back into my floor. Please don’t laugh too hard when I tell you that I applied peanut butter to my kitchen floor. This had worked beautifully on a linoleum kitchen floor years ago when I accidentally dropped some peanut butter on it. It restored the colour that had been ruined by my son spilling turpentine on it. With this information, the contractor did not want to touch my floor. He said it would all peel off because of the oil / oily contaminate. Now I am devastated that my floors might have to remain in this condition which he said will even get worse. I am in hopes that you can help me with what to do. I even ask about completely significantly re-sanding all the wood in my house. He said the big machines that do that kind of refinishing and sanding are for smooth hardwood floors and because Junckers is so distressed and wavy, he didn’t seem to even want to try.

A: Well, there are very strong chemical cleaners designed to remove most all contaminants. Basic Coatings has a chemical prep system called Ty Kote. It will remove the oil and prep the existing finish to allow the next coat to bond. Poloplaz has one similar called Tie Tack. Look both up. I think that would be your solution.

Plasterer was a dirty worker and floor is now covered with plaster stains

Q: I recently moved home and had several floors sanded. Unfortunately, one room subsequently required some plasterwork. The plasterer was a dirty worker and the floor is now covered with plaster stains. Is there anything I can do to remove this? Or will we need to have the floor re-sanded?

A: It can be irksome to see how so many trades people, as good as they may be at what they do, are totally oblivious to everything and everyone around them. All he had to do was cover the floors to protect them. $10 for a sheet of plastic? I’m doubtful you will get these marks off. They may not even come off with a full sanding. Try one spot. Start with course steel wool. If that doesn’t work, try sandpaper or hand scraper. You should have a better idea of how deep the stains are then.

Sticky pad residue

Q: The sticky pads we applied to the bottom of our furniture have come off and left a sticky residue on our hardwood floors. I have been unable to remove it. How do I remove sticky pad residue? Is there anything other than hot water and elbow grease you can suggest to get the film off?

A: Mineral spirits or polyurethane cleaner.

Green color coming to the surface

Q: Our white oak wood floors have a green color coming to the surface. It is getting our carpets stained too, from the foot traffic from the wood floor to the carpet. How can we repair our wood floor?

A: It sounds like tannin, but how or why it would be able to bleed through a polyurethane floor finish I don’t know. If this is restricted to several boards you may want to have those changed.

Found the installers applying paint thinner to my brand new floors

Q: I just had hardwood floors installed 3 days ago and I found the installers applying paint thinner to my brand new floors! Everyone I have spoken to has no idea why they put paint thinner on wood floors and the owner of the company is avoiding me. I have noticed that my floors no longer have the high gloss look and am worried that the coating will no longer hold up to a house full of kids. Do you have any idea what the practice of this is and what damage this has caused and will cause to my flooring?

A: I don’t know of any pre finished manufacturer who is using gloss finish in North America. They were probably using mineral spirits to clean off adhesive that got on the surface of the floor. That should not hurt the finish.

Similar Q: I just installed new prefinished flooring throughout a house. I did not know at the time but the guys used paint thinner on the floors to clean them. There are now white streaks all over the floors. What can I do? Please help me!

A: You should get yourself some floor cleaner created by floor coatings companies and wood floor manufacturers. You will likely have to go to a local wood floor retailer but there are many offerings from Poloplaz to Basic Coatings, Mirage, Bona Kemi. Or in a pinch you can mix a mild solution of vinegar and water. Dampen a cloth or micro weave or terry cloth type mop. Spray and wipe dry. The nice thing with the other cleaners I’ve mentioned is they evaporate off the floor and don’t leave any type of residue, which is what you are looking at now. And please don’t use super market cleaners or oil soaps.

Drywall dust is embedded into our engineered hardwood floor

Q: Drywall dust is embedded into our engineered hardwood floor, in the cracks and in the grain of the wood. I dry-mopped and used a shop vac. This helped the surface of the wood, but the white dust is still embedded in there. What can I do? Any cleaners?

A: I would keep working at it with the vacuum. Especially in regard to such dust between the boards, be very cautious about using a lot of liquid. I read an experience in the National Hardwood Flooring Association journal not long ago where a new floor was installed and not protected by the workers when sanding the drywall. They vacuumed, then washed the floor. Big mistake. The drywall dust re-constituted, cupped and buckled the new floor which had to be replaced.