Hardwood floors can add beauty and elegance to your home. Unfortunately, they can also be very difficult to clean! You may have heard that mineral spirits can help remove stains from engineered hardwood floors. In most cases, this can be a safe and effective way to clean stains from your engineered hardwoods.
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However, you will want to be careful using mineral spirits or any other harsh cleaning or chemical agents on your engineered hardwoods to avoid removing the finish. If you have any doubts about how to effectively remove stains from your hardwood floors, consider contacting the manufacturer or a licensed contractor.
About Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood floors can provide a beautiful finish to your home. These floors are extremely popular with homeowners because they are attractive, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive compared to traditional hardwood floors.
The term “engineered hardwoods” simply means that the product consists of a thin layer of genuine hardwood flooring that is glued or bonded to a manufactured surface, such as plywood. This construction drastically reduces the cost compared to traditional hardwoods.
Engineered hardwood floors come in a variety of materials, thicknesses, finishes, and qualities. This flooring is available at many online and retail outlets, from big box stores such as Lowe’s to regional, specialty flooring companies and online flooring sellers like Flooring.org.
The aesthetic appearance of engineered hardwood floors can be identical to traditional hardwood floors. However, it is much less expensive and can be very easy to install.
In most cases, a relatively handy homeowner can install engineered hardwoods on their own.
There are a few potential drawbacks to engineered hardwoods. Because the layer of actual hardwood can be quite thin, engineered hardwoods cannot be sanded down and refinished the way that traditional hardwoods can. For this reason, stain removal from engineered hardwoods can be problematic.
Causes of Stains on Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Because the top layer of engineered hardwood flooring is real wood, just like traditional hardwood floors, it can be stained in the same manner. The most common cause of stains on hardwood floors is liquid.
Liquid stains on hardwood flooring can be from leaks, spills, pet stains, or other causes. Liquid is harmless to hardwoods if it is cleaned up quickly. However, if it is allowed to sit on the floor for a period of time, liquids can permanently stain engineered hardwoods floors.
Stains can also occur on hardwood floors while they are being installed. Glue and wood dust are common causes on stains on engineered hardwoods. If too much glue is used to adhere the engineered hardwoods to the floor, it can bubble up through the seams of the flooring and be difficult to remove.
Other materials such as paint or nail polish, shoe treads, or furniture legs can also stain hardwood floors. Even the UV rays of the sun can lead to discoloration and staining of engineered hardwood floors.
Using Mineral Spirits on Engineered Hardwoods
If you have stains on your engineered hardwood floors, mineral spirits may be able to help you remove them. Mineral spirits are a liquid that is distilled from petroleum. Mineral spirits are commonly used as a paint thinning agent or as a solvent.
There are several different types of mineral spirits on the market. Some mineral spirits are marketed as “odorless” or “low odor”. However, the best mineral spirits for cleaning hardwood flooring is the traditional variety, which does not include these special descriptions. Mineral spirits can be purchased at hardware stores, home improvement stores, or paint outlets.
Mineral spirits are a very potent chemical, and you should take care when using them. According to the National Institute of Health, mineral spirits have harmful effects if inhaled or ingested.
Before trying to use mineral spirits to remove the stains from your hardwoods, you should first test them on an inconspicuous area of the floor, such as inside a closet. This will allow you to see if there are any issues with the mineral spirits removing the finish from your hardwood floors.
Mineral spirits generally do not remove the finish from an engineered hardwood floor.
However, it is important to remember that all floors are different. Certain finishes or coatings may be more affected by mineral spirits than others.
When you use mineral spirits to attempt to remove a stain from your engineered hardwood floors, you should apply it with a clean, soft, white cloth. Using a white cloth will allow you to see immediately if any finish is being removed from your floor. The cloth will be stained with the finish of the floor. If you see any finish start to rub off on the cloth, you should stop using the mineral spirits immediately.
Before beginning the stain removal process, be sure to open windows and take other steps to fully ventilate the area. Consider a face mask and gloves to protect yourself from the potentially harmful chemicals in mineral spirits. To fully remove the stain, rub the mineral spirits into the stain in a circular motion. Once the stain is gone, the floor can be buffed to a shine.
Other Ways to Remove Stains from Hardwood Flooring
Mineral spirits is not the only option for removing stains from your engineered hardwood flooring. You could also try another method, such as a product specifically made for cleaning engineered hardwood floors.
Most flooring manufacturers make and sell products that are specifically designed for maintaining and cleaning your engineered hardwoods. For example, Minwax sells a whole range of products meant to help you repair and maintain your beautiful hardwood flooring, while TECH has a specialized wood and laminate floor cleaner.
Acetone is another stain remover that is sometimes recommended for engineered hardwood floors. However, you should be very careful before using acetone or a similar stringent product, as it may have the potential to damage the finish of your hardwoods. Be sure to test the product in a small, inconspicuous area and allow it to dry completely to ensure that acetone is safe for your engineered hardwoods.
What to Do if You Can’t Remove the Stains
Unfortunately, if you are unable to remove the stains from your engineered hardwood floors, you may not have many options. Unlike traditional hardwood floors, engineered hardwoods are difficult or impossible to refinish.
If stains on your engineered hardwoods are severe and cannot be removed, you may have few options other than replacing your floors. It may be possible to only remove and replace the damaged section of the floor, but this would still require some expense and construction.
Otherwise, if your engineered hardwoods cannot be cleaned, you have the option of staining them to minimize the stain. You could also adjust furniture placement to hide or minimize the stains on the engineered hardwoods.
Products that You Should Never Use to Clean Engineered Hardwoods
There are some products and cleaning methods that may do more harm than good to your engineered hardwood floors. You should never clean your engineered hardwoods with excessive water, such as mopping. The moisture could cause serious damage to your flooring.
Never use vinegar on a hardwood floor, as it can completely strip the finish from your engineered hardwoods.
Other products that can remove the finish from your flooring include ammonia, bleach, and other acidic or abrasive chemicals. Wax-based cleaning products, acrylic finishes, and detergents or soaps are also bad for your engineered hardwoods.
Using any of these products can cause damage or strip the finish from your floors. The World Floor Covering Association provides additional valuable information on how to clean your hardwood floors.
Protecting and Preventing Damage to Your Engineered Hardwoods
Of course, the best way to get rid of stains on your engineered hardwood floors is to prevent them from happening in the first place! Taking good care of your floors can reduce the likelihood that you will need to use mineral spirits or any other cleaning product on your floors.
First, you should recognize the main causes of staining on hardwood floors. These are dirt and liquids. Being mindful of these stain-dangers can help you prevent damage to your flooring.
Mitigate dirt on your engineered hardwoods by regularly sweeping and cleaning the floors as directed by the manufacturer. Using area rugs by entryways or other high traffic areas can also minimize the amount of dirt that gets onto your hardwoods.
Be vigilant of liquids on your engineered hardwood flooring as well. If any liquid is spilled on your flooring, be sure to clean it up immediately and thoroughly. Never use water or liquid cleaners to clean your hardwood floors. Take steps to protect hardwoods in areas with high risk of water damage, such as a kitchen or outside of a bathroom.
Using mineral spirits can be a safe and effective way to remove the stains from your engineered hardwood floors without damaging the finish.
However, if you have any doubts about the safety or efficacy of using mineral spirits on your engineered hardwoods, it is always best to consult an expert.
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