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James_Markowitz 03-31-2009 02:48 PM

Removing stains from hardwood floors
I have recently rented the large drum sander and tripped my hardwood floors of the top finishes. I ran into a slight problem though. There are significantly dark stains in the high traffic areas of the floor. I tried to sand down below them but I am afraid of sanding too much and having a noticeable dip in the floor. I am wondering I guess if there are any types of cleaners I can possibly use to pull the stains out or I am just going to have to try to sand below them before refinishing?

fuster 04-01-2009 12:35 AM

If you don't know what the stains are from, it is hard to say if you can take them out with a solvent. The only thing that might be safe would be denatured alcohol because it is not caustic and it will evaporate out of the wood without damaging it. The down side of using ANY solvent is that once you have sanded as in this case, the solvent may take whatever the material is that is causing the stain and take it deeper into the wood. You can try various solvents, but I would stick with alcohol if you want to be safe. Other solvents that you could try in a small area first, would be: Acetone (low boiling point, evaporates very rapidly); laquer thinner (also low boiling point, evaporates rapidly); naptha (a little slower evaporation).

The difference in these solvents is their molecular structure in terms of being more or less polar, which affects which types of substances they will dissolve. Acetone, for instance, will take water and other polar substances and carry them off when it evaporates. However, in wood this is like I said a mixed bag because wood is such a sponge for liquids, so maybe you just carry the offending substance further into the wood. Try in a small area, see if you get the results you want. Otherwise, you will have to sand down further. How far? Decide your threshold for sanding, and do not exceed it, or you replace the floor.

I guess you may want to compare replacement of the floor versus your labor to restore it. Maybe you can replace the wood where it is dark.

James_Markowitz 04-01-2009 12:01 PM

Im pretty sure that they are stains from animals, but they were here LONG before we purchased the hosue so theres no way for me to be certain. But I will try a few different solvents before I give the go ahead for sanding..

glennjanie 04-01-2009 06:02 PM

Welcome James:
I have had experience with animal stains in hardwood and softwood floors. Products made for cleaning a deck will work on some, products made for cleaning air conditioner coils (the caustic kind, not the acid) work better, and common household bleach (Clorox) is the least expensive and works well.
I would not sand any further; if the cleaners or bleach don't do the job, I would consider a stain that would pull the color together.

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