When cleaning an old hardwood floor, you’re most likely to be concerned with all the stains that have accumulated over the years. Many things can stain a hardwood floor if they are left standing for a length of time. These can include pet urine, ink, coffee and juice, just to name a few. When cleaning an old hardwood floor, the key is to know what to use and what not to use.
The Kind of Stain
When caring for a stain, you must first determine if the stain is on the surface of the floor’s finish or if it has actually penetrated the wood underneath. When a hardwood floor is installed, it is sanded down, stained and then coated with a few layers of a clear finish.
When you walk on your floor, you are actually walking on this finish, not on the actual wood itself. If the stain you’re trying to get rid of is on the finish, then cleaning with water based, neutral PH cleaner is usually sufficient. If the stain has actually reached and penetrated the wood, then more drastic measures may be necessary.
When cleaning an old hardwood floor, determine that the stain is merely on the floor’s finish and has not penetrated to the wood underneath. If the stain is merely on the finish, then use water based cleaner. You can use a nylon rubbing pad to assist with the cleanup. For harder stains, you can use a solvent, like a mineral solvent as these are good at getting rid of crayon marks and shoe scuffs.
If you’re cleaning an old hardwood floor and you’re not sure about a certain product, it’s best to ask for assistance rather than trying it out. There have been cases when people, trying to get out extra tough stains like nail polish use a lacquer thinner. Products such as these will get the stain out but will likely take the finish off your floor along with it! Just remember, read the labels and ask for help when you have a question.
If the stain has penetrated to the wood underneath, you might have to redo the floor completely. If you’re doing it yourself, you can rent the equipment as buying it will be quite expensive. You’ll need sanding equipment, eye, ear and mouth protection (from all the sawdust and noise), as well as finishing materials. If you’re too overwhelmed, you might want to hire a professional to do the job for you.
Just remember, when cleaning an old hardwood floor, determine where the stain is. Pet urine and ink especially can stain your floor. The trick is not to let the material sit on the floor for long. If your pet wets the floor or you witness a spill, clean it up immediately. Pools of anything, even water, can warp, stain and damage your floor. The key to keeping a nice floor is maintenance but if you must clean an old hardwood floor, take care and learn as much as you can to avoid common mistakes.