Poly balls

Q: I had my oak hardwood floors sanded down and refinished. I have for the most part been satisfied with the job the contractor did; however, within the last week I have noticed that I have small rough spots forming in the cracks between the boards. These look like little black balls of stain or finish.

It has been relatively dry this year and within the last week we have received a good amount of rainfall, so I wondered if the boards have maybe expanded and are squeezing something out? I am not sure what I should do about this or it is a problem or just normal.

A: It sounds exactly as you describe it. You will likely have to keep gently scraping this away until it stops. Saying this is probably akin to shutting the door after the horse already got out of the barn, but you need to try to keep the humidity in the home more stable. If the RH drops into the mid to low 20% range, adding moisture to bring it up to 35-40 in winter would help.

(Attached: Stop_Polyballs.pdf)

Similar Q: A professional refinisher did my floors last Feb. I have noticed in July a lot of balls of dried poly between the boards. Since the professional has not returned my calls, I would like to attend to this myself. How does one remove the poly balls?

A: The person who did your floors has limited responsibility for the poly beads. This is basically an environmental issue. The last thing I want to see on my job is that! He should have called you back, but maybe he is really busy. I don’t know. Scrape them off with a plastic putty knife. If you feel it is necessary, another coat of finish can be applied.

Another Similar Q: We had new red oak, 3 inch hardwood floors installed in our brand new house, varnished to a gloss. I think they used Vaspar. The problem is that since they installed it blobs of varnish are popping up all over between the boards. Most are the size of a dime and are raised to a mound. There are hundreds of them. I used to try to remove them, but it was making a mess cause most of them are gooey globs, smearing and marring from the goo. The company that installed them just got back to me saying they want to buff the areas and touch up the varnish, I think this is a band-aid for the problem.

A: The situation you describe is called poly beads or such. I’m going to guess your floor was installed in the fall or winter. Possibly not acclimated well and you had low humidity in the home. The boards shrunk some and it was sanded and finished. The coating seeped between the boards and lacking oxygen just sat and remained soft for months. Fast forward into the warmer more humid months and the floor expands and starts squeezing out the still soft poly. I don’t think it would be wise to buff and coat the floor again while this is happening. You will just have to keep scraping the beads off as they appear until it is finished happening.

I wonder if fans blowing across the floor might help dry things up a bit faster? I must confess, it has happened to me once in 36 years.