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Old 02-16-2014, 07:57 PM   #1
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Weird residue on hardwoods?


So this may be impossible to answer without seeing it in person (it's very hard to photograph), but I thought I'd try.

I recently moved into a 1950's ranch with a lot of hardwood flooring. After moving in I noticed that the finish in some places was pretty gross looking…some areas are rough and appear to have dog hair or something actually stuck into the finish. It's actually hard to tell in some places if these rough areas are actually part of the finish, or if there's some kind of weird hardened adhesive stuck to the floor.

Then this week, I was in the living room trying to remove a ton of tiny dried paint splatters from the hardwood (long story) and noticed that in the rough areas of the floor, I can literally scrape the finish (or glue, or whatever the heck it is) off the floor with my fingernail. Once I get it off in a tiny area, it looks like the hardwood underneath is still finished, and the finish looks smooth and in relatively good condition. My theory is that when the previous owner added a den addition, he refinished the adjoining rooms so they would match the addition (the bedrooms are hardwood, do not have these strange issues, and it looks like they've never been refinished).

Now I'm wondering if there's a way to remove this strange adhesive/crappy finish/mystery substance without damaging the underlying finish of the hardwood, which appears to be intact. Scraping over 1,500 square feet of hardwood with my fingernail is impossible, and I've tried things like a putty knife and they don't do the job (either the tool is too dull, or it's too sharp and I don't have the same feel as I do with my fingernail to not damage the underlying wood). Any ideas? Should I just have some hardwood refinishing people come take a look and give an opinion?

Anyway, my apologies if this post makes no sense and nobody knows what I'm talking about!

Last edited by Sloan; 02-16-2014 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:03 PM   #2
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No way to even guess without being there or at least some pictures.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:55 AM   #3
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Is your house on a concrete slab?

If so, the floor was applied with adhesive glue, and the installer did a poor job of cleaning up.
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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House is on a crawlspace. I'll try to get some pictures when the sun comes out later this afternoon…it's pretty cloudy right now and it's hard for me to capture the weird texture without better light! Thanks guys!
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:36 AM   #5
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They make cleaning pads for floor buffers/scrubbers. I would just use a solution of Murphy's Oil soap, and run a Buffer/Scrubber over it. Just make sure that you are moving it as you go.

Now of course it is just easier to call Stanley Steamer or Chem-dry and having either one of them come in and do the work for you. That way you are not having to borrow a friend's truck or van, if all you have is a car, to haul the buffer/scrubber to and from the rental place.



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Old 02-17-2014, 03:19 PM   #6
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OK, I got some photos. The first photo shows what the weird residue looks like:



This photo shows a tiny area where I scraped the residue off with my fingernail (you can see the finish beneath looks intact…if I had any computer skills I'd draw an arrow to where I scraped, but it's close to the middle of the photo):




I showed these photos to a guy at a hardwood floor store nearby and he wasn't sure without seeing it in person, but wondered if the residue is from floor wax/Murphy's Oil/Orange Glo used by the previous owners. He said if that's the case I could try some mineral spirits in an inconspicuous place to see if it'll come up. He said if it's polyurethane due to the previous owners trying to apply new polyurethane over a wax then I'm **** out of luck and will just have to have the floors refinished.

Definitely don't have the money for all that right now. Either these mineral spirits are gonna work, or I'm gonna have to reconcile myself to living with these gross floors for a long time while I save up money to refinish them. Unless any of you have more ideas after seeing the photos! Thanks for all your help!
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:46 PM   #7
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Cannot really tell anything from those pictures. Most likely just everyday dirt and grime, that can be cleaned with the method I stated above. Mineral spirits will actually take the top Poly & wax coat off, and cause other damage.

Just use the old school method of Murphy's Oil soap and either hand scrub or use a Buffer/Scrubber with a scrubbing pad, to help get the dirt & grime off, or hire a company to come in and do it.

Most will after the floors are dried, will apply a coat of wax on them, if the Poly coat is still at a decent thickness. Look around for a small mom & pop floor re-finishing company. They can tell you a price and you can compare their price to the other companies mentioned.

Murphy's Oil soap or the others will only leave a residue, if you use them straight out of the bottle, or do not clean them up with a clean mop that has not been used in the cleaning process. Most people that clean floors, do not do it correct.

When we did the floors in our berthing area, we would take one mop for stripping the wax off. Then use another mop for cleaning any residue off. The waxing was always done with a brand new string mop out of the box. It basically went that the mop that was used for cleaning any residue, was the old Wax mop. That mop when it got dingy, became the mop to apply the stripper to the floor.



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