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dcw1 02-06-2010 10:42 PM

hardwood floor- rubber back of rug stuck to floor
We have Bruce inch pre-finished hardwood floors in a dining room. We have a sea grass (similar to sisal) area rug on top of the hardwood and it had sort of a rubber backing. We just moved the rug and much of the rubber backing is stuck to the polyurethane hardwood flooring. The rubber backing on the rug has become brittle and dried out and much has come off the rug and melded to the floor. Water does not dissolve it or break it up nor do regular cleaners.

This substance is sort of soft/rubbery (not a liquid though) when wet. Although when dry it is rather brittle and it comes off the floor when scrapped with a plastic scraper. But since it is such a large area it is tedious. Also, even when the large pieces come off, there is a film and tiny pieces remain. It is stuck down pretty good—a sponge and warm water or general cleaners isn’t cutting it. I did buy a decent hardwood cleaner but not much help as I don’t think those really have anything special in them in them except for general cleaning

Does anyone have a suggestion as to what to use to try to dissolve or loosen this rubber backing/glue-like substance? The finish on the floor is fine in that it still is very shiny and there are no worn spots. But, I am concerned about using certain solvents as I only need to dissolve the rug backing (rubber/glue-like) and do not want to dissolve the polyurethane or urethane finish on the floor. I say polyurethane or urethane as I am unsure what Bruce uses. The floor was installed about 6 years ago and is the standard inch gunstock color you can get at any Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Internet searches have turned up WD-40, vegetable oil, vinegar and water--all no good. I have some extra pieces and I tested the finish with acetone and it did not affect the finish. But, the acetone did little if anything to break up this substance. Also, AFTA (which I understand is a drycleaning fluid) did little as well. If acetone is not effcetive, is there any chance mineral spirits would work? What about denatured alcohol?

Any other suggestions and comments are appreciated. Thanks.

Johns Creek, GA

dcw1 02-07-2010 06:30 AM

OK, I just tried denatured alcohol. I spot tested it on a spare piece of hardwood that I saved and it did not seem to affect the finish. I used it on this substance and it dissolves it into the denatured alcohol which then can be wiped up. It is going to take some time but at least it turns this substance into a liquid which can be wiped up. My concern was it was going to sort of melt it and then it would be like trying to get mastic off. Anyway, since this substance dissolves in denatured alcohol, that is likely what I will be using.

When I spot tested the piece of hardwood, I let the denatured alcohol sit on the finish for about 2-3 minutes and then rubbed really hard with cloth. The alcohol basically evaporated and there did not seem to be any visible or physical effects on the floor finish--it was still very shiny and hard.

Anyone have any thoughts specifically about whether denatured alcohol has any effect on polyurethane? Also, why isn't denatured alcohol recommended on these type floors. I mean you probably wouldn't use it every day but I can't find one site that says to use denatured alcohol on hardwood floors.

Johns Creek, GA

Nestor_Kelebay 02-07-2010 11:14 AM


If the denatured alcohol has no apparant effect on the finish on your floor, then you can safely assume it has no effect whatsoever. Typically on laminate flooring they use a UV cured polyurethane because the poly cures fully in a very short timem when exposed to intense UV light.

Mineral spirits would also be safe to use on the flooring, but I don't know whether it would dissolve the rubber backing or not.

In your PM you wanted to know if there was any difference between mineral spirits and acetone. Post again if you still want me to explain the difference between the two.

If acetone does etch the finish on your floor, you can always just let it evaporate and wipe some wiping polyurethane over the dull area to restore the gloss. Wipe-on Polyurethane is much thinner than normal polyurethane because it's meant to soak into a rag and be wiped onto a surface rather than brushed, rolled or sprayed. That thinness makes it self level very well so you wouldn't have to worry about brush strokes showing. - Minwax Wipe-On Poly - Review

dcw1 02-07-2010 01:07 PM


You mention, "laminate flooring" in your post. My flooring is 3/4 inch, solid oak that was purchased pre-finished. No laminate involved so I am not sure whether that will change your post.

Also, can I apply that Wipe-On Poly right over top of the existing poly coats. Again the floor has been down for several years, the finish is still good. But if using the denatured alcohol dulls the surface a bit, will the new Wipe-On poly stick or adhere to the old poly?

Nestor_Kelebay 02-07-2010 04:57 PM


You mention, "laminate flooring" in your post. My flooring is 3/4 inch, solid oak that was purchased pre-finished. No laminate involved so I am not sure whether that will change your post.
No, it wouldn't change the post. Most products that come with a polyurethane finish from the factory use a UV cure polyurethane just because of the rapid cure time under intense UV light... real oak or laminate.


Also, can I apply that Wipe-On Poly right over top of the existing poly coats.
Yes. You can apply the wiping poly directly over your existing finish and it should stick well. But, I'd try it in the least conspicuous area just to be sure. It takes Wipe-On Poly a little longer to cure hard than regular alkyd based polyurethane, so give it an extra day or two to dry.


Again the floor has been down for several years, the finish is still good. But if using the denatured alcohol dulls the surface a bit, will the new Wipe-On poly stick or adhere to the old poly?
Yes, it should stick to it and adhere reasonably well. You see, if your surface looks dull in one spot, then the reason is because that surface is rough. So if you apply the polyurethane over a rough surface, it should adhere as well as if it had been applied over a sanded surface. The reason why sanding improves adhesion between a surface and a coating is because sanding increases the surface area the coating is adhering to.

The wipe on polyurethane won't be as hard as the UV cured finish that came on the hardwood, so just apply the Wipe-On Poly in any areas that are dull from rubbing with the denatured alcohol. I wouldn't spread that Wiping Poly over the whole floor.

Have you tried using mineral spirits to remove that rubber backing? Mineral spirits should not affect your poly whatsoever. Before you use the denatured alcohol, I'd try mineral spirits to see if it was equally effective in removing the rubber. If so, it shouldn't dull the polyurethane at all, nor will it cause your hardwood to swell at all the way water might. I would hold off on using that denatured alcohol until you've had a chance to try mineral spirits on the hardwood.

Wipe-On poly is simple to use. You simple take a preferably white preferably cotton rag and get it wet with the Wipe-On Poly. Wipe it onto the area you want to restore the gloss to and keep the rag tightly sealed in a clear plastic bag like a Zip Lock sandwich bag (so the rag doesn't dry out) while each coat of Wipe-On Poly dries.

The only thing I'm concerned about is that if the denatured alcohol does leave the floor dull, and you "repair" those dull spots with the Wiping poly, then if the gloss of the wiping poly and your original hardwood are different, you could find yourself with a blotchy floor because some areas are glossy whereas others aren't as glossy.

Does your floor now have a high gloss, semi-gloss or satin finish? Wipe-on Poly will dry to a high gloss finish.

Is it possible to get a sample of the flooring you had put down from a flooring store and see if the denatured alcohol dulls the surface of the finish? Alternatively, is it possible to contact the manufacturer of the area rug and find out how best to remove that foam rubber?

Bud Cline 02-08-2010 03:40 PM

Anybody think to call the manufacturer before you started dumping everything in grandma's cupboard on that floor finish. Pretty risky thing to do.:)

inspectorD 02-08-2010 05:47 PM

I addressed it in the same posters other double post...but I guess I was ignored and the process begins.....


.....think anybody heard me?:D

Bud Cline 02-11-2010 10:57 AM

Dontcha jus hate it when a common sense comment shuts down a thread.:(

dcw1 02-13-2010 02:14 PM

Denatured alcohol worked very well. It melted/dissolved the rubber backing so it could be wiped off. It took a while as there were some areas that were really thick. The denatured alcohol also did nothing to the finish even using large amounts.

I did email the flooring company (Bruce/Armstrong) and this is what I received:

Thank you for contacting Armstrong World Industries, Inc. regarding our Bruce hardwood. We use a urethane finish on our hardwood floors. Also for tough stains we recommend the use of low odor mineral spirits. This is the strongest product we are able to recommend on the floor, without damaging the finish. This product can be found at any hardware store or home center. Please feel free to respond to this email if you have any further questions.

I did not try mineral spirits as the denatured alcohol dissolved the material. It is good to know that mineral spirits are available as well.

Also, the problem started on a Friday afternoon and most companies are closed over the weekend. I had some spare floor boards from when I installed the floor so I was able to put the chemicals on the pieces and let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing and wiping really, really hard. Again, denatured alcohol did nothing to the finish. So, I agree common sense tells one to contact the company first. But, often that is not possible and secondly, I am utterly shocked they responded that it was ok to use mineral spirits. Therefore, although I appreciate the replies regarding contacting the company, such comments are useless. I suspect that the vast majority of people seeking advice from this site don't need the call the company suggestion. So, rather than post such, just assume those seeking assistance do have enough common sense to already know that option is available.

Thanks for all the replies.


Nestor_Kelebay 02-13-2010 03:18 PM



I was able to put the chemicals on the pieces and let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing and wiping really, really hard.
That wasn't actually necessary. If a solvent takes the gloss off a plastic, it's because the solvent is dissolving the plastic. If it softens the plastic, it's because the solvent is penetrating into the plastic and acting as a plasticizer. When that happens, then normally that plastic will go back to it's original hardness as the solvent evaporates from the plastic. So, if the alcohol didn't etch the plastic or soften it, it was safe to use. It wasn't necessary to scrub really hard to prove it.

Even if the alcohol did soften your hardwood floor finish, if it allowed you to remove the rubber from the floor without damaging the floor finish, then you could have just given the floor finish some time, and it would have hardened back up to it's original hardness as the solvents evaporated from it.


Originally Posted by dcw1 (Post 40820)
I am utterly shocked they responded that it was ok to use mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits are one of the safer solvents to use on any unknown plastic. So far as I know, the only plastic that will be harmed by mineral spirits is polycarbonate, which is what prescription vials and disposable clear plastic picnic glasses are made of. So, if your plastic doesn't resemble polycarbonate, or isn't used in a similar application, it's normally safe to use mineral spirits on it.

(The only problem is that plastics are often clear and hard, so you don't know what kind of plastic you're dealing with.)

It's obvious to you that calling the manufacturer's customer service 1-800 number was always an option. However, it's surprising how many people don't realize that if something has happened to them, it's probably happened to thousands of other people, and the manufacturer would likely have dealt with this problem before. The rubber carpet backing sticking to your hardwood is just such a case.

At least the e-mail you got back told you that the finish was polyurethane, and you would have known from my post that mineral spirits would not harm any kind of polyurethane. Lots of times the customer service you get from a company will be much less helpful and will just tell you that you shouldn't have put a rubber backed carpet over the floor in the first place, which is no help at all.

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