How to Remove . . . From Wood Floors

From the appliances to the flooring we install in our homes, styles and trends change over time. Imagine having to live with avocado green appliances in your kitchen forever?

Even with our flooring choices, our opinions have changed every generation. A few decades ago, hardwood floors became old and outdated. Carpeting was a modern invention that everyone had to have. So homeowners rushed to install wall-to-wall carpets, bringing warmth and plushness under their feet.

It didn’t take long before we began ripping out the carpets with our bare hands, finding beautiful hardwood underneath. We loved it. We craved it. It became the in thing. And there it remains, even today.

Wood floors are a mainstay throughout Portland area homes. From small condos to large single family homes, wood floors add beauty and warmth to the ambiance and decor. And with so many choices available, the possibilities are endless.

The only question is, what best matches your lifestyle?

How to Remove . . . From Wood FloorsYou can choose site-installed hardwood floors and create a customized look throughout your home. You can select factory-finished wood flooring for a personalized look that is incredibly resistant to surface scratches. You can find a variety of finishes that protect your floor from the everyday activities that make up your life: from aluminum oxide to UV-cured urethane, with finish warranties that offer years of protection.

Yet, it’s also important to understand that wood floors will require work. And no matter how you live or how many people you have moving throughout your home each day, accidents happen. You will spill water on occasion. You will find a scratch here and there. Then, what do you do?

Scratches
Let’s start with the biggest enemy to your wood floor: scratches. If you have hardwood installed in your home, accumulating scratches is inevitable, no matter how careful you are. Scratches can be caused by a variety of things, including furniture, pets, and tracking small rocks in from outside.

While repairing scratched hardwood can be relatively easy, it depends on how deep the scratch lies.

For a shallow scratch, start by cleaning the affected area with a clean, soft rag. Wipe it down gently to remove excess dirt and debris from the scratch itself. Then dampen a rag with a wood stain marker that matches your wood floor coloring. Fold a clean rag to ensure you have a few layers to work with. Shake the wood stain marker and dab the point onto the cloth 10 to 15 times to saturate the area with the wood stain. Then rub the stain into the scratch. Focus in on getting the stain evenly throughout the scratch, rubbing in circles to achieve an even application. This method works better than applying it directly, as that can make the scratch darker than the rest of the floor.

If the scratch impacts the protective coating of the wood floor, use a soft rag and a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner to remove dirt and debris from the area. Rinse off the cleaner by using another rag with water, removing all cleaner from the area. Let dry before moving on.

When dry, use a small tipped brush to apply a protective finish to the area. You can use a sealant, shellac, or polyurethane varnish to seal in the impacted area. Consulting with a professional may be beneficial to ensure your wood floors aren’t further damaged in the process.

For deep scratches and gouges, start by cleaning the affected area. To reach the scratch, you will have to remove the protective layer before you can fix the scratch. Using sandpaper, or a scouring pad with mineral spirits, gently rub the area to expose the scratch.

Fill the scratch with a small amount of wood filler that is a similar color to your wood floors. Use your finger to work the wood filler into the scratch, spreading it in all directions to avoid air bubbles. Be sure to use wood filler instead of wood putty, as wood putty doesn’t take stain the same way and will affect your ability for matching your floor’s color. Wipe off excess filler and allow to dry. Sand to ensure it is level with the rest of your floor, moving in all directions to give it a natural feel. Wipe away dust. Then seal the patched area with a thin layer of the same sealer used on the rest of the wood flooring. Allow drying before any traffic is allowed on the surface.

If you have any questions about the process, it may be better to allow a professional to repair your floor to ensure consistency and keep all warranties valid.

Common Household Items
While scratches are the most common problems that will impact your hardwood floors, there are many items throughout your house that when dropped, can create potential problems. The faster you work to correct the affected area, the less the problem will have a chance to set and take hold.

Chewing gum – rather than trying to pry or scrape it off, cool the gum by filling a plastic bag with ice and placing it over the gum until it is brittle enough to crumble. Then remove with a plastic scraper, avoiding pulling the finish with it.

Crayon or candle wax – If you have a wax or penetrating finish, place a brown paper bag over the wax or crayon and heat with an iron until the bag absorbs the stain. If you have a varnish or polyurethane finish, use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

Dried milk or food stains – If you have a wax or penetrating finish, gently rub with a damp cloth until the stain is gone. Reapply wax as necessary. With a varnish or polyurethane finish, use a cleaner designed for the wood finish.

Grease or oil stains – If you have a wax or penetrating finish, saturate a cotton cloth with hydrogen peroxide and place it over the stain. Saturate a second cloth with ammonia and place in on top of the first. Let dry in between and repeat as necessary. With a varnish or polyurethane finish, use a cleaner designed for the wood finish.

Water stains or white spots – If you have a wax or penetrating finish, rub with steel wool dipped in wax. If the stain or spot remains, follow by lightly sanding with sandpaper. Follow up with steel wool dipped in mineral spirits. Apply stain to match original color once dry. Wax and buff. With a varnish or polyurethane finish, use a cleaner designed for the wood finish.

Mold or mildew – With all types of finishes, use a cleaner designed for the wood finish. Sand and refinish the areas where the mold or mildew impacted beneath the surface. Apply finish as needed.

Are your hardwood floors in top shape?