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We just bought a house with lovely bright pink carpeting over hardwood floors, and tore it all up. The foam underneath was multi-colored, and the black spots appear to have melted to the floor.

Spots

Another angle

It's hard to see in the pictures, but those are actual little lumps of sticky foam (melted? it's 90°F here).

So, what's the easiest way to remove these from the floor without ruining it? I've read online suggestions of hardwood floor cleaner, Goo-Gone, soapy water, and even dry ice.

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Why you don't lay cheap carpet pad over a nice wood floor. The rubber will react with the finish and weld into it. The worst I ever saw was a partial natural rubber pad on some sort of varnish. The rubber had gone through to the wood with these sticky divots all over the place. Shoes would stick to the rubber spots. Other padding out there exists if you ever want to revert to the wood floor after carpeting. –  Fiasco Labs Aug 26 '13 at 21:11
    
If you are considering dry ice, be very careful. Skin can be severely damaged by contact. –  bib Aug 27 '13 at 12:34

5 Answers 5

Probably you are hoping to spray some Miracle Vanishing Formula™, instantly wipe, and be good as new. Maybe it is possible to do that, or use a putty knife carefully.

In the end, you will probably have added scratches, and there are probably defects and worn portions screaming for refinishing. So why not skip to the (seemingly) inevitable conclusion: maybe now is a great time to refinish the whole floor.

Rent a floor sander, either a drum sander, floor stripper, or square buff sander and take off the foam, varnish, and thin layer of the wood.

drum sander floor stripper square buff sander wood floor edger

Usually, it is best to remove floor edge molding to get all the way to the walls, but if the molding is expensive or hard to remove, it is not unreasonable to do a best effort with the edge sander (above right) or an orbital with a shield.

Then add floor finish, sand, buff, and refinish again. It is a lot of work and has to be spread out over at least three days with no use of the room, but it can really revive an iffy room and make it one you can be proud of.

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+1 for refinishing. If someone saw fit to cover the hardwood with carpet, the hardwood was probably a bit tired even then. You may not need to go down to bare wood as this answer suggests--a surface sanding may be all that is required to remove the spots and rough-up the surface for a new application of polyurethane. –  mac Aug 26 '13 at 20:30

I would try plastic taping knives such as these

plastic knife

If these are not sharp enough, I would move on to credit cards. Yes, credit cards (use the ones you got in the mail that you do not want). They are softer than metal, but have a fairly sharp edge.

If there is still stubborn residue, I would use a dull metal taping knife (or putty knife).

If there is remaining stickiness or oiliness, I would use a grease cutting cleaner like Fantastik. If that was in sufficient, I would move on to alcohol. Then mineral spirits.

Only if all these failed would I move on to sharp scrapers or sanding.

Yes, it is slow and tedious. But I have cleaned up a floor that looked just like that in a few hours and it came out beautifully (even if I was cranky, exhausted and far from beautiful).

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Carbide tipped scrapers, pulled slowly, will remove the padding and leave the finish unmarked. Originally Sandvik (now Bahco), they are also available at Sears tool centers and Rockler.

I also use them for scraping off old paint drips when prepping walls for paint.

enter image description here

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You need to get it nice and wet and use a plastic scraper to pop those off. I have used both soap and water, windex, and hardwood floor cleaners to do this. All work to varying degrees on different floors. Rubber scraper = plastic putty knife. Have one person squirt and another scrape. Once an area is wet for about 5-10 mins it usually comes right off - and of course you can not let the moisture sit in one area too long. If you use any metal scrapers you will have marks. I have done this on at least 5 floors.

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I just did this tonight. You don't have to wet the floor. Get a wooden paint stirrer and start scraping the floor. First go against the grain. Work in small areas. After scraping a few feet, use the side of the stick and scrape together a pile to vacuum up. Then keep repeating the process. What I can't figure out is how to get the stains out.

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We ended up trying literally dozens of different products. The one that worked best was (surprising us all) Orange Goo hand cleaner. There was some concern about wiping away the finish, so we waxed it immediately afterwards. I think the concerns about the finish were unfounded though, almost a year later and the floor is still looking great! –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 1 at 5:00

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