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Commercial Flooring News

Dealing With Damage To Your Hardwood Floor

Even if you treat your hardwood floor with the utmost care, at some point you’ll probably have to deal with scratches or stains to it. Below we’ve listed some ways to deal with the most common problems you might come across.
Spills and stains – understanding the difference between oil wax and lacquer finishes

As you read this guide you’ll note that there are lots of different treatments for spills / stains on oil wax floors, but really only one for lacquer floors. This is down to the nature of the different finishes. With a lacquer floor all you’re really doing is getting rid of what is lying on top of the lacquer coating, hoping that the coating itself is not damaged. With an oil wax floor the top ‘layer’ of the finish will probably come off with the stain, and you need to restore the finish. Oil wax floors are generally more forgiving when it comes to these spot repairs.
Water stains / light spots

OIL WAX: First try extra-fine grade (000/0000) steel wool and more oil wax. If this doesn’t work then carefully sand with fine sandpaper before cleaning using fine grade (00) steel wool and either wood floor cleaner (NOT a water-based one) or white spirit. Let the area dry, then re-apply the oil wax finish, allow that to dry, then buff to a finish.

LACQUER: You’ll need a recommended lacquer surface cleaner (consult the manufacturer’s guidelines) and either a clean cloth or, for more stubborn marks, a special scrubbing pad. Gently apply the cleaner to remove the stain without damaging the finish.
Food / liquid stains

Prompt attention here can save you work, so wipe as much of the stain off whilst wet. Use a clean, soft absorbent cloth or tissue to wipe the floor dry; if you’re lucky you might need to do no more than that.
Dried food / liquid stains

OIL WAX: If the stain has dried then use a slightly damp cloth (preferably moistened with a wood floor cleaner rather than water) and rub gently. Take your time; you want to loosen the stain and then trap it on the cloth. Keep the floor as dry as possible throughout. Once the stain is gone and the floor is dry you might need to apply some more oil wax, then allow that to dry before buffing to a shine.

LACQUER: Follow instructions for water stains / light spots (as above).
Darker spots and stains such as ink

OIL WAX: First, try treating as you would a water stain / light spot (as above). If this is not successful, try applying vinegar and leaving for 60 minutes before wiping clean with a slightly damp cloth and then drying with a clean cloth. If vinegar doesn’t work then try sparingly applying a 50/50 solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) in water, leaving for 30 minutes then rinsing and drying. Once the stain is gone, re-apply oil wax to the affected area, allow to dry and then buff to a finish.

LACQUER: Follow instructions for water stains / light spots (as above).
Mould / Mildew

As long as the mould / mildew is on the surface of the wood, then you should be able to remove it. If it has penetrated the wood then you have a more serious problem and should contact a professional.

Make a cloth slightly damp cloth with an appropriate wood floor cleaner for your floor’s finish and wipe gently. Then dry with a different clean cloth.
Chewing Gum

OIL WAX: You may be able to make the gum brittle enough to crumble off by holding a watertight bag of ice to it and chipping away at it gently with a plastic scraper or spatula; any persistent areas can then be removed with fine grade wire wool or sandpaper. Once the gum is gone you may need to apply more oil wax and allow it to dry before buffing to restore the shine.

LACQUER: Try using ice as immediately above to make the gum brittle and remove as much as possible before finishing with a lacquer cleaner and special buffing pad.
Wax Crayon / Candlewax

You’ll need blotting paper to absorb the wax and something to melt it with. Either hold the blotting paper over the area and press a hot iron onto the top to lift the wax onto the paper, or use a hairdryer to melt the wax whilst rubbing with an old pair of nylon tights. The wax should soak into the tights and then cool and dry again on them.
Oil / Grease

It is important not to spread the oil or grease around, so first soak up whatever you can buy laying an absorbent cloth or tissue over the affected area. Do NOT rub – instead pat gently to soak up as much as you can into the cloth and off the floor. Only when no more is coming up onto the cloth should you move to the next stage.

OIL WAX: First, try rubbing with a bar of soap that has a high lye content and then rubbing clean with a soft dry cloth. If that doesn’t work, soak a clean cotton cloth in hydrogen peroxide and lay it over the stain before laying a second cotton cloth that has been soaked in ammonia over the first. Do not let the ammonia touch your floor as this can cause the colour to change. Once the stain is removed, dry the area, re-apply the oil wax, allow it to dry and buff to a shine.

LACQUER: Follow instructions for water stains / light spots (as above).
Scuff marks from shoes

OIL WAX: Apply a small amount of oil wax with very fine steel wool (grade 000/0000) and buff gently by hand to remove the scuff.

LACQUER: Some scuff marks from soft-soled shoes are really just dry stains; in other words, there is something on the finish rather than damage to the finish. Treat these as you would a water stain or spot (as above). If the scuff is more of a scratch see below.
Small scratches in the finish

OIL WAX: Apply a small amount of oil wax using a soft, clean cloth and then carefully rub to restore the shine.

LACQUER: You can buy touch up kits for (poly)urethane finishes. Contact the manufacturers of your floor or the lacquer that it was sealed with and see which kit they’d recommend, then carefully follow the instructions on the kit.
Dents from high heels

No matter what finish you have on your wood floor, we recommend that you contact a professional for this kind of repair.