As far as aesthetics goes, hardwood flooring is one of the most popular and recommended flooring options for homeowners. Hardwood floors give your home an elegant yet comfortable look and an easy aesthetic to match your furniture and build your interior decoration around.
While hardwood offers great aesthetic value in comparison to its alternatives, it is also very high maintenance. This material requires daily care to prevent it from wearing out and developing the dreaded black spots hardwood homeowners are already familiar with.
What causes black stains on hardwood floors?
Black stains on your hardwood floor are indications of wood damage which can be caused by reasons such as:
The number one rule for hardwood maintenance is to keep liquid away from your floors. Moisture is the most common cause of dark spots on hardwood floors and can come from any of the following:
2. Water spillage:
Water spillage is unavoidable around the home. It happens very often and wouldn’t be a problem with another type of floor finishing; however, it’s a home hazard with hardwood floors. In the event of water spillage on hardwood floors, you should water thoroughly wipe it off immediately with a dry cloth. Leaving the water to settle on the hardwood would most likely lead to a black spot.
3. Food spillage:
Like water, food also often spills around the home and causes damages to hardwood floors; cleaning it immediately after spillage helps avoid dark spots on your floor.
4. Wrong cleaning methods:
Hardwood floors require regular cleaning and maintenance. However, the method of cleaning differs from other floor finishes. While a regular mop-down does the trick on different surfaces, water is wood’s worst enemy, and a wet mop on your hardwood is terrible for your floor. A damp mop without water leaking through it is ideal while being careful not to leave standing water on the floor.
5. Leaking ceiling:
Leakage in your ceiling or a lousy drainage system could also lead to dark spots on your floor. If your roof is not sealed correctly, water could leak through certain places when it rains and causes damage to your hardwood. Also, a wrong pipe or drainage underneath the house could increase the moisture levels below the floor surface and cause dark spots to develop.
6. Blotchy Finishing:
Blotchy or bad finishing can also lead to black spots. This can happen if the wood doesn’t correctly absorb colorant. They can also occur if incompatible products are applied to the wood by contractors.
How To Remove Black Stains From Hardwood Floors?
It’s always best to avoid stains on your hardwood floors. However, sometimes they happen for reasons out of your control and leave your floor looking unattractive. Rest easy because dark spots don’t mean you need new flooring for your home, as there are effective ways of getting rid of them.
Step-by-step guide on how to remove stains
Before adopting a cleaning method to get rid of a dark spot, it’s crucial to know what caused the stain, which will help you determine what kind of cleaning agents to use on the hardwood.
1. Clean the spot
The first step in getting rid of dark spots is cleaning the surface where the stain is. Use a vacuum or broom to sweep the dirt off the area, then use a damp cloth to wipe the surface to get rid of dust and the remaining dirt. You can damp the fabric in liquid soap, mineral spirit, or lemon oil. Just ensure you use a moderate amount so as not to soak the wood in liquid. Gently rub the cloth on the surface to avoid scratching the wood.
2. Bleach the dark spot
After cleaning the surface of the dark spot, using wood bleach is the next step. Bleaching is the easiest way to get rid of dark spots on hardwood and regain the new look it used to have. Before using a bleaching agent on your hardwood floor, it is necessary to know what caused the dark spots as depending on how long the stain has had to penetrate the wood and what caused the stains in the first place, some chemicals are more suitable than others.
Chlorine: Chlorine-based bleaching agents are effective in removing food stains on your hardwood floor. Chlorine could also remove fresh blood and ink stains but may prove ineffective against old stains that have deeply penetrated the wood.
White vinegar: White vinegar works great at removing all kinds of stains, whether caused by food, blood, water, or pet feces. The real value of white vinegar is that it is a deodorizing agent, meaning it can help get rid of the smell on your hardwood floor. This is perfect for food and feces stains.
Baking soda: Baking soda works best when mixed with vinegar to create a paste capable of removing the toughest of floor stains. Apply the mixture to the dark area and leave to dry, then use a soft cloth to wipe off the paste to get rid of the stain.
Oxalic acid: Oxalic acid works best when treating old and stubborn stains such as rust and black water discolorations.
3. Sand the dark spot
In some cases, the bleaching agents remove the stain but not wholly. This happens when the stain has deeply penetrated the finish beyond what bleaching can completely clean, and in this case, sandpapering the area might just finish the job.
How to sandpaper hardwood floor?
Assess the floor: Before sanding your hardwood to remove stains, you need to know precisely what kind of wood you have. Oak and maple floors are relatively easy to sand in comparison to other types of wood. Also, an old floor that has been sanded many times may not take another sanding.
Prepare for sanding: For floors that have never been sanded, you’ll need 36-grit sandpaper. 24-grit papers may do the job for oak and maple floors as they’re easier to sand than others and do not require excessive force.
Sand the floor: Using fine-grit sandpaper, scrub the stained area, ensuring you scratch in the wood’s grain direction to prevent damage. It’s ideal to start gently, then slowly increase the force you apply to the sandpaper to find out the right amount of pressure you need to apply as excessive scrubbing could ruin the hardwood. Scrub till the stains are removed from the floor, then gently clean off the dust using a vacuum. Check the surface to see if there are any remaining stains
Stain and finish the floor: After sanding your floors, the surface you sanded will likely look mismatched compared to the rest of your floor. The only way to even it out and return your hardwood to its original color is by refinishing it. To do this, find the stain that matches your floor, apply it to the hardwood using a cloth and leave it to dry for 30 minutes to an hour. Once the floor is arid, you can top-coat it with wax or wood varnish to match the original color, and voila, your wood is back to looking good as new.
How to remove old black urine stains from hardwood floors?
For pet owners, urine stains are a regular occurrence around the home and often leave black spots on the hardwood if not cleaned immediately. Once the urine penetrates the wood, it could end up leaving a foul odor to boot and give you a much harder cleaning job. Luckily, there are a few ways to get rid of urine stains.
For some types of hardwood, hydrogen peroxide is sufficient enough to get rid of urine stains. Gently wipe the dark spot with a cloth soaked in peroxide and let it dry for an hour. If this does not get rid of the stain, then you should consider sanding over the spot. However, if the stain is gone but the smell remains, repeat the same process with the hydrogen peroxide.
Baking soda. Just like peroxide is an excellent solution for getting rid of urine stains on hardwood floors. Baking soda can absorb liquid from any surface and is perfect for extracting urine from hardwood and removing dark stains. Pour the baking soda in a thick layer over the stained area and leave it for an hour. After an hour, use a vacuum to suck the baking soda off the wood. By now, your floor should be rid of both stain and smell.
Vinegar is another good option for dealing with black stains and urine smells on your hardwood. Soak a cloth in vinegar and use it to clean the stained surface gently. Vinegar is a natural chemical and won’t cause any harm to your hardwood.
How to remove black marks and spots from hardwood floors?
Minor dark marks can often appear on the hardwood floor when the wood begins to age or from minor damage to the wood. Unlike dark stains caused by moisture, tiny marks are a lot less visible and require more focus to clean without ruining your floor.
Here’s a short guide on how to get rid of black marks on your floor:
- Access the marked area: Before getting rid of the mark, a short inspection of what caused the mark is advisable. While minor marks on your hardwood are likely due to the wood getting old, sometimes it can come from moisture such as water drops or ink falling on the wood and penetrating the finish.
- Bleach the black mark: Get a small cup and a small piece of cloth or a rag before getting rid of small black spots. If the spot results from moisture like water or ink, put some white vinegar mixed with baking soda into the cup and carefully apply it on the mark using a cloth or a toothbrush. However, if the make is caused by the wood getting old, you might need to sand and refinish the surface
When should I call a professional to fix a stain?
Some stains go beyond what a regular homeowner can fix. Deeper stains penetrating high-quality wood could prove difficult, especially when you don’t have experience with cleaning and sanding hardwood. Calling a professional to help you clean your floor and refinish it may be your best option if you have no DIY experience and maybe what’s best for your hardwood in the long run.
Hardwood is a beautiful aesthetic to have in our home. However, with its beauty also comes a lot of maintenance costs. Protecting your floor against termites and stains all year round is an uphill task, and sometimes liquid spillage on the floor cannot be avoided. Hopefully, this guide can show you how best to handle dark stains on your hardwood finish.