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Reviving Hardwood Floors

I have older light/medium hardwood floors. Over the years they have become dull with some minor scratches in a couple rooms. Two of the rooms have tape marks which I have tried to remove with various products to no avail. I have also used many cleaners and wood polishing products, also to no avail.

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Does anyone have suggestions for reviving the wood floors outside of the expensive alternative of having them professionally refinished. I also don't want to do this myself.

By Kay

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January 16, 20120 found this helpful

You might need a finish reviver. I've never used it myself, but Old House Journal.com recommends a product called "Floor Revive."

Different floor finishes need different cleaning methods, and if you're not sure what kind of finish your floor has, you should test it to find out. If you're using the wrong method, you can damage the finish.

The three most common finishes are shellac, lacquer, and polyurethane. Use denatured alcohol, and lacquer thinner to test the finish. You can find both products in the hardware store or anyplace that sells woodworking supplies. A cotton ball soaked with denatured alcohol will soften a shellac finish. Lacquer thinner will soften a lacquer finish (I know, what a surprise!). If neither of these chemicals do anything to your floor finish, it's probably polyurethane, especially if it was laid or refinished within the past 30 years or so.

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Cleaning a shellac or lacquer finish with water will cloud the finish. These finishes can be cleaned with mild soap suds...but just the suds. Polyurethane can be cleaned with almost anything. It's tough. I generally damp mop mine with a little liquid dish detergent in a 3 gallon bucket (How much dish soap you use depends on how concentrated yours is - I use Dawn on my dishes, so I use very little for the floor).

There are other ways to revive a damaged wood floor, but they're almost as much work as refinishing, and essentially involve using chemicals to liquify the existing finish, which you then sort of spread around until it's shiny again. If you want more details about that, let me know.

Oh, yeah... as for the tape marks if they're still sticky, you might try using Goo Gone. If they're not still sticky, try gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush or scrubby sponge. If none of those worked, the only other thing I can recommend is fine steel wool or sandpaper for essentially spot-refinishing.

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November 10, 20120 found this helpful

I would like to know about how to liquefy the existing finish, as referred to below in a Dec., 2011 post:

"There are other ways to revive a damaged wood floor, but they're almost as much work as refinishing, and essentially involve using chemicals to liquify the existing finish, which you then sort of spread around until it's shiny again. If you want more details about that, let me know."

By Marie H.

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