A wood floor can have a wax finish, shellac, varnish or a urethane finish. If you don't know or your customer doesn't know what type of finish is on the floor, ask when the floor was installed. Floors installed before the mid 1960's were mostly finished with shellac. Perform a simple test - scratch the surface in a corner or other inconspicuous area - if the finish flakes it is most likely shellac or varnish. To determine if the floor has a wax finish - drop two drops of water in a corner or behind a door and then wait 10 minutes. If white spots appear under the drops of water, the floor has a wax finish. To remove the white spots, dampen #0000 steel wool with wax and gently rub the spot. If the floor does not have either of the finishes above, it has a urethane finish. If there is any doubt about what type of finish is on the wood floor, consult a wood flooring specialist.
Following are repair procedures for wax finished floors:
1. Scratches (such as heel marks): Rub in a small amount of wax with fine steel wool (#0000) and then hand buff until the floor shines.
2. Stains: The way you clean a stain will depend on the type of stain you are dealing with.
a. Chewing Gum: Fill a plastic bag with ice and then apply the bag to the gum until the deposit becomes brittle. Then use a dull putty knife to remove the gum.
b. Cigarette Burns: If the stain is not deep you can rub it with fine sandpaper or #0000 steel wool. If necessary, moisten the steel wool with wax. For burns that are deep into the wood: scrape around the area with a small penknife to remove the charred fibers. Then rub the area with fine sandpaper. Then stain, wax and hand buff the stained area.
c. Food Stains: Gently rub the area with a damp (but not excessively moist) cloth. Then use a soft, dry cloth to rub the area dry and apply wax.
d. Mold: Rub gently with a wood cleaner. Use a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.
e. Water Stains or White Spots: Rub the area with #0000 steel wool, and then wax the affected area. If this does not remove the spots, lightly sand the area with a fine sandpaper and then clean it using #0000 steel wool and a wood floor cleaner. Allow the area to dry completely. Then apply wax and hand buff.
f. Ink Spots, Pet Urine Spots or Dark Stains: Rub the area with #0000 steel wool. Then wax the stained area. If this fails to remove the stain, lightly sand the area with a fine sandpaper and then clean it using a #0000 steel wool and a wood floor cleaner. Allow the floor to dry completely. Then wax and hand buff the area. It the stain remains, consult a wood flooring expert.
g. Wax Build-Up: Strip the old wax with odorless mineral spirits or a wood floor product made specifically for stripping wax. Use fine, soft cloths and a fine steel wool to make sure you remove all residue. Once the floor is dry, apply wax and buff the floor.
For Urethane Finished Floors:
Another test for a surface finished floor is to see if the stain or scratch has penetrated just the finish. If so, you are dealing with a surface finish floor.
1. Scratches: Repair touch-up kits for urethane finishes are available from wood flooring retailers. Follow the manufacturer's directions to repair the scratch.
2. Stains: Like stains on a waxed floor, treat stains on surface finished floors according to the type of stain.
a. Chewing Gum, Crayon or Wax: Take a plastic bag and fill it with ice. Then place the plastic bag on the stain until the stain is brittle enough so it crumbles off. Then clean the area thoroughly with a product made for a urethane finish.
b. Oil or Grease: Rub the area with a cleaner that is created for urethane floors.
c. Food, Water, Dark Spots or Pet Urine: Use a cleaner created for cleaning urethane floors. If it is a stubborn spot you may also have to use a scrub pad. Only use a pad that is designed to clean urethane floors.
d. Cigarette Burns: Look for a urethane floor finish touch up kit at a hardwood floor supplier. Begin by rubbing the area with sandpaper, then stain and refinish. If the burn has reached deep into the wood, individual planks or strips may need to be replaced.
Hardwood floors are durable and forgiving, but make sure you know what type of stain you are dealing with and the proper procedure to follow before making any repairs. And, if there are any doubts or questions on how to repair a stain, scratch or burn, consult an expert first.
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Steve Hanson has been a building service contractor for more than 20 years and now uses his knowledge to help owners of residential cleaning companies build a more profitable and successful cleaning business at MyHouseCleaningBiz.com. Read inspirational cleaning success stories at http://www.cleaning-success.com, and sign up for House Cleaning Profit Tips at http://www.MyHouseCleaningBiz.com.