Hardwood Floors: Sand Dirt Out of Heavy Traffic Areas
LESLIE: Catherine in Hawaii is calling in with a flooring question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CATHERINE: Hi there. I’m so glad to talk to you. Well, I live in a very humid place and over the years, in my kitchen which has a hardwood floor, near the heavily-trafficked area in front of stove and the sink and the counter, there have developed little speckles of what looks like it might be mold.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
CATHERINE: It’s not a lot of it but it looks dirty and it’s under the surface of the finish.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. OK.
CATHERINE: So I want to know if there’s a way to get rid of that without refinishing the whole room.
TOM: Probably not; not if it’s under the finish.
LESLIE: Yeah, if it’s under the finish.
TOM: Are you sure it’s mold? It might just be dirt. It tends to grind in due to the open pores of the wood.
CATHERINE: Uh-huh. I’ve tried to scrub it pretty good. Do you have any suggestion on a …?
TOM: Yeah, I can tell you sort of a way to do a very light refinishing of it without sanding it down thoroughly. What you can do is you can rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. Now, you’ve seen the big floor buffers they use in commercial buildings, right? Well, this is a screen – it looks kind of like a window screen kind of material but it’s abrasive – but it’s only very lightly abrasive – that goes between the floor buffer and the floor.
And you can buff this floor and it kind of sands off the finish and just sort of cleans it up; any ground-in dirt, it’ll take that up. And it doesn’t take up nearly – it doesn’t really eat up the wood or anything like that. It’ll rough it all up and freshen up the surface and then you vacuum it. That’s the only bad thing about it because there’s no vacuum associated with a floor buffer, so you have to sort of vacuum all that dust up; make sure it’s really, really clean. And then you can refinish right on top of that.
So that’s a nice way to do sort of in-between major sandings of floors; you can just use the floor buffer, clean off the surface and then seal it from there or polyurethane it from there.
CATHERINE: If it were ground-in dirt, that would probably …
TOM: That’d probably take it up, yeah. I mean you may have to do a little bit of hand-sanding but that might be a good place to start.
CATHERINE: I think I will start there. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Catherine. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.