Cleaning 95 yr old white oak flooring

jmc01July 12, 2011

We have the original 95 yr old flooring throughout our entire home. When we moved in 6+ ys ago, we had the floors stripped and refinished with a horribly smelly oil based finish. We moved out during that process but have absolutely loved our floors since then.

Through these 6 yrs, we've inadvertently brought little bits of tar and other black specks in on our shoes and, of course, the tiny spots have transferred to the floors.

What would you suggest for getting the tar specks off? I've tried a 50/50 mix of vinegar/water, I've tried non-alcohol windex, I've tried a 25/75 mix of dish soap and water. So far, nothing has worked.

Do I go with denatured alcohol? Something else so I don't ruin the oil based finish?

Thanks for any ideas.

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I have used paint thinner with good results to clean up tar spots on fully cured oil modified urethane. However this does not mean that it will work with your finish, but it might. Do you know what the finish is? Use a soft cloth and light pressure. My suggestion is to test in an area that does not show and wait a day to see what happens before going on. If it is not urethane finish you might wait for another post. Look at the gloss level especially. Do not use lacquer thinner.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Thanks, owf. We have an oil finish, no urethane of any type. I'll try paint thinner in an out of the way spot...but the problem might be that we don't walk in the out of the way spots...we tend to walk in the middle of the rooms!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 5:57PM
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flooring gaps are really big problem, I lived on 2 floor, water comes out from my kitchen and flows into bedroom, my bedroom is installed with solid oak flooring, but now the water almost destroy it, it is shrink, and gaps are seen there, does it mean the moisture content of solid oak flooring is becoming less and less? I also can not find good ways to solve this problem, if there is good method, please let me know, thank you so much!!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: oak flooring

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 6:26AM
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Paint thinner should not harm any existing finish.

You do need to be careful though.

It will dissolve tar and if the resulting liquid seeps into cracks it can carry the tar with it.

The thinner then evaporates, the tar does not.

It usually does not show much (if at all) but should be avoided just in case (it is easier to avoid the problem than need to fix it if it happens).

Hold a paper towel over the paint thinner can opening, and briefly invert the can (10-15 seconds is enough). Make sure the opening is well covered and backed up by your hand.
Use nitrile gloves to protect you hands.

Enough thinner will soak into the paper towel.
Use the now wet spot to rub over the tar spots.
They will dissolve and soak into the paper towel.
Wipe with a clean dry spot on the towel and see if everything came up.

And then that nasty thing, repeat till clean.

Keep the windows open since paint thinner fumes are flammable.

There is regretfully no fast way to clean tar without also stripping the finish or just smearing the tar around.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 3:07PM
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