White spots on hardwood floors can be a common problem, with several different causes and different solutions. From excess moisture, heat, or spills directly on the floor’s surface, there are many causes for white spots.
The most common cause of white spots is moisture damage to wood floors, often from water leaks or floods. These white spots can indicate that there has been some kind of water damage, and the best solution to this problem is getting rid of the excess moisture.
There are several possible causes for the development of small white spots on your wood flooring. Let’s take a look at some common problems that cause them and discuss how to correct the problem so you don’t see those unsightly spots again.
Moisture and water can get trapped in and underneath your hardwood floor for a number of reasons. When there’s excess moisture, particularly water, pooled beneath your hardwood floor, it can cause problems with the structural stability of the wood beams or joists that make up your flooring system.
The moisture can get into cracks or expansion joints between boards and cause warping or swelling where the wood has been damaged. This is what causes white spots on hardwood floors.
Water damage can also be caused by floodwaters penetrating through basement windows or doors below grade level in a home. Basements are often finished with a hardwood floor and can have the same drying problem as above-grade rooms.
The area must be dried out completely to fix the problem. If flooded, the flooring will have to be replaced, and replaced boards will need a moisture barrier installed underneath.
In homes with water damage from above grade sources such as leaks from poorly fitted shower doors or running toilets, the source of the moisture can sometimes be found and fixed. If that’s not possible, then you should move your furniture and any objects on top of the floors to another room while it dries.
If there’s flooding due to a broken pipe or other plumbing issue, you may wish to contact a plumber for help.
2. White Spots Can Be Caused by Mineral Deposits
Different minerals in the water can cause white spots on hardwood floors. The most common ones are magnesium and calcium. Often, these deposits are found near faucets or on floors that are close to plumbing fixtures.
The reason mineral deposits cause white spots is that they’re harder than the materials used to make most hardwood floors. When water containing these minerals dries, it leaves behind a white spot where the minerals were. Mineral deposits are also often found near heat sources in kitchens or bathrooms, where they can precipitate out of the water.
Many people choose to treat mineral deposits with vinegar or another acid because this will dissolve the deposits and remove them permanently from your hardwood floor.
To remove the deposits, you can use a baking soda paste or a vinegar and water solution.
Here are the steps to prepare a baking soda paste:
- Make a paste of baking soda and water in amounts that’ll match the size of the white spot.
- Apply the mixture to the spot with a small brush or cloth, then let sit for 10 minutes.
- Buff away any remaining residue with plain water and a clean towel or cloth.
- For an extremely stubborn area, use vinegar instead of water; it can help dissolve mineral deposits more easily than a baking soda can.
- Once you have buffed off all stains, finish by wiping down the area with a clean and dry cloth to remove any residual moisture and allow it to completely air dry.
- Once the area is dry, finish the entire floor by applying a clear coat of wax or sealer designed for use on hardwood floors.
Here are the steps to prepare a vinegar and water solution:
- Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a bucket.
- Soak a mop into the solution and wring it out completely.
- Mop the floor, focusing on problem areas, then allow it to dry completely before walking on the floor.
- If you have dark hardwood floors, you may want to try another method since this technique could cause some discoloration of your flooring.
- For seriously stained areas, scrubbing may be required for removal.
After washing off the mineral deposits, clean and dry the floor thoroughly, and let it dry before putting furniture back or walking on it.
If you have oily rags or old fabric that were used to apply floor wax, these spots may be caused by oils from those materials being deposited onto your hardwood floors as well as some waxes can leave behind a white residue if not cleaned up properly.
In some cases, the varnish on the wood has been damaged and has worn away, leaving bare wood exposed.
If you have a white spot on your hardwood floor caused by wax, the best way to fix it is by using mineral spirits or paint thinner. Be sure to use a clean rag and rub off all of the excess wax. You can then apply mineral oil or a clear varnish if it has worn off.
If the floor’s finish has been worn or damaged, you’ll need to refinish the wood floors.
If you notice the spots only appear in certain areas of your hardwood floor, this may indicate a damaged area of wood where a knot had been, or some other damage occurred to the surface. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘soft spot,’ and there are several ways that they can be rectified. If the damage is fairly new, it may be possible to refinish just that section of wood.
If not, it’ll likely need to be replaced altogether. Though if you have expensive hardwood floors, it’s always advisable that you hire a professional who has experience with hardwood floors so that you don’t cause any more damage while trying to fix the problem yourself.
If you’re refinishing the hardwood flooring, ensure that you acquire matching stains. You’ll likely need to sand and refinish the spot to correct it. To do so:
- Sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper or a buffer.
- Wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth or tack cloth.
Try applying a fresh coat of finish by following these instructions:
- Dispense some floor finish into a small disposable cup.
- Use a clean brush to work enough floor finish into the spot until it’s saturated but not too thickly applied.
- After the stain is dry, apply polyurethane in two coats to seal the area back up and provide a smooth surface that’ll prevent future scratches from forming.
- Allow at least 24 hours for the floor finish to dry thoroughly.
If the damaged area is small enough, you may be able to match the stain by hand. Ensure that your tools are clean and free of dust or other material before applying any new finish to your floors. Ensure that when you apply it, it fills in all inconsistencies to make for one even surface.
If the damage isn’t too extensive, you can try repairing it with a colored putty stick or wood filler available at most hardware stores. Follow package instructions for application and allow time for it to dry before continuing with your refinishing project.
If this doesn’t work, consider replacing just that section of hardwood flooring. It may be cost-effective to do so, considering the amount of material you would have already removed for sanding and refinishing the entire floor.
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White spots can occur from spilled liquids that react with the finish of the hardwood flooring. The white discoloration may also be accompanied by several fine lines, likely caused by an acidic spill eating away at the wood fibers.
These spots are also likely to be located near the base of walls or cabinets where liquids might be spilled when people are cleaning. They can be much more noticeable in these spots because they receive less light and traffic than other areas of the floor.
To remove a white spot on your floor caused by spilled liquid, remove the residue from the spill as soon as possible, or it may cause further damage to the finish on your hardwood floors. Take any porous rugs outside, shake them out and bring them to a carpet cleaner for deep cleaning. Sweep or vacuum your hardwood floor thoroughly.
To remove these spots, you’ll be able to use mineral oil or mineral spirits. Apply a generous amount of mineral oil or mineral spirits to the white spot and let it soak in for about 15 minutes. Using what appears to be a clean, soft yellow cloth, gently rub until the spot disappears and your floor is completely clean.
The longer it takes for such spills to be cleaned up, the more likely they’ll cause permanent damage or create spots that are harder to remove or fix.
The white discoloration is due to water collecting under heated floors because the humidity has risen above 70 percent in the home. Humidity levels above this amount will usually cause condensation on windows and interior surfaces, leading to water collecting under a heated floor. The best way to avoid this issue is to install a dehumidifier and maintain humidity levels below 60 percent in your home at all times.
If you’ve already noticed several small white spots appearing on your hardwood floors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to replace them.
Install a dehumidifier. If you’ve noticed several white spots appearing on your hardwood floors, it means that the humidity level in the room with the wood flooring is above 60 percent. One way to fix this is with a dehumidifier, which will lower the humidity levels within your home and prevent any future water damage from occurring.
You can also leave a window open or place a fan near an open window if there are no humid days expected, but be sure to turn off the heat, so condensation doesn’t form on windows and deal with misplaced moisture under heated floors caused by a hot window.
To remove the white spots already on the floor, you’ll need to use mineral oil or spirits, but if the damage is too extensive, you may need to consider refinishing or replacing the floors.
7. White Spots Can Be Caused by Harsh Floor Cleaners
When the floor’s finish becomes scratched, it’s especially vulnerable to moisture and can cause white spots to form on the surface of the flooring. If there are already white spots on hardwood floors, then it means that you’ve damaged the wood sealant with your cleaning supplies.
If the floor has been heavily trafficked for a long period of time, then you’ll also begin to see white spots as the finish wears away and exposes the bare wood underneath.
These white spots don’t mean that you need new flooring. However, if your floor is worn, you’ll need to sand out any scratches and refinish the worn section of your hardwoods.
To refinish your wood floors, you must purchase sandpaper, polyurethane, and other materials that can be purchased at any hardware store. Follow the same directions as above to refinish your floors.
White spots on hardwood floors can be caused by several things, including excess moisture, laps in the finish, and even spills. To remove these spots depends on the cause, but in general, you can use:
- Mineral spirits
- Mineral oil
- Baking soda/vinegar mixtures
- Refinishing or replacing
When it comes to scratched hardwood floors, patience and the appropriate tools will help you achieve repairs that look new.