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How to Remove Stains From Sealed Wood Floor?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 5 Apr 2011 | comments*Discuss
How To Remove Stains From Sealed Wood Floor?


My sealed wooden floors are less than 6 months old. I had 2 black vinyl place mats on the floor for my pets' bowls. Suddenly I find underneath the mats are big black stains in the wood that I can't remove.

The mats were in 2 different spots and the stains are the size of the mats 20 X 30cm. Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated.

(Jane Field, 2 February 2009)


Oh dear, you must have been very surprised and disappointed! There are two things that may have happened here, although it's not easy to state categorically without knowing what the sealant is or what the backing of the mats is (if any).

Two Sources of Stains

The first is that the dye of the mats may have reacted with the sealant, in which case the sealant will have to be Sanded Off and re-applied. This may have happened if the mats were put down before the sealant was fully dry, in which case the black stains are actually lots of very small particles of the mat or its backing. So mild abrasive rubbing might remove that.

However the second problem is that water may have soaked through the mats, or been spilt and then seeped under. Where it has sat, trapped by the mat, it has then seeped through the sealant and stained the wood. That's a full strip down job, unfortunately.

Progressive Cleaning

Either way, the best approach is to try and remove the stains using progressively stronger cleaning materials. Of course you may have tried many of these already, in which case you can skip those.

One problem is that many chemical treatments can discolour or stain the wood themselves, so it might not be much of an improvement. In each case try any chemicals on a part of the floor that doesn't show, so that you can find out before you've applied it to the mat stains.

Step by Step

The first step is warm soap or detergent in water, applied with a stiff cloth or sponge. A sponge scourer is good for this purpose but make sure it is one that is designed for use on non-stick pans, which are usually lighter in colour. The dark green ones will be too rough and will be like scraping the floor with wire wool, so you can use those later.

Step up to cream cleanser next, again with a cloth or non-stick pan scourer. If that doesn't shift the stains then it's onto the mild abrasives. Wire wool, with a little oil (cooking oil will do) to act as a lubricant, should remove a layer of the sealant and may take the stain with it too.

On to the Big Job

If not, unfortunately you will have to sand the floor to remove the sealant, use commercial wood bleach to remove the stain (follow the manufacturer's instructions) then reseal the floor.

If this job was carried out by a professional team in the first place, our advice is to get on to them to get it fixed under guarantee. If it is a water stain on the wood then it shouldn’t have gone through the sealant, so there's a problem somewhere.

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