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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.


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
I've had great success removing crap from floors with a wallpaper steamer and scraper –  Matt Sep 8 '14 at 22:22

8 Answers 8

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
You can refinish. But unless you're very competent, it's best to leave that to a pro. It's really east to ruin a floor with a big sanding machine. –  Matt Sep 8 '14 at 22:21
@Matt: Refinishing a floor is a LOT easier with the modern machines than with the old drum sanders. Those had some risk of digging into the wood. The new ones -- such as the four-disk random orbital machine I used -- are almost trivial to use. (However, my girlfriend did a fine job on her living room with one of the belt machines; it just requires care and patience.) –  keshlam Nov 2 '14 at 3:45
One caveat re refinishing: Do you know whether this is real hardwood or engineered flooring? If the latter, it can still be refinished some number of times but you need to be a lot more careful to sand off as little as possible. In fact, what you might want to look at is screening it rather than sanding it. –  keshlam Nov 2 '14 at 3:46
@keshlam: From the OP's photos, it sure looks like real hardwood. –  wallyk Nov 2 '14 at 4:20

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 '14 at 5:00

Looks like a pretty decent grade of wood flooring. Also it probably is a shellac finish. Something about the pad or maybe the shampoo used on the carpet caused the shellac to soften and fuse with the pad particles. You can use a similar chemical to soften the finish and release the pad. Shellac softens with several common materials. Ammonia is one but it is difficult to not have a sticky mess when you are done. You might try Johnsons or Briwax paste wax and a scrub brush. There is also the challenge of removing staples and tack strip without damaging the floor. Also the paste wax would inhibit any new coats of finish you might need from sticking evenly to the old shellac. So while the floor is close to being usable it is a resand away from being something really nice.

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First is to run the vacuum cleaner over the area many times. Don't let the beater hit, but you do want the brushes to hit the floor. This will take a LOT of the big stuff off.

I tried almost every solvent known to man. My problem is that it either did nothing, or dissolved the carpet pad and the shellac.

I ended up using Windshield Washing Fluid (that also will remove ice/frost from the windshield). When I started losing patience, I would add up to 25% isopropyl alcohol. Spray on, and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then I Hand scrubbed with:

A. 4" Paint & Rust Remover Extra Coarse 1 Pack open-webbed, semi-flexible design of this wheel makes it easy to strip edges, contours and uneven surfaces without gouging (bought at the "Green-colored" store and saved Big Money)

B. Scotch-Brite

Don't fool yourself, this took a LOT of work = time.

I did not want to sand and put all the dust into the air. Nor, risk sanding off any stain that may be on the wood.

The only thing that would dissolve the carpet pad also dissolved the shellac. Before I liked polyurethane, but now I like shellac. I've had to scrub down to the bare wood in places, and to repair, I will probably open doors/windows for ventilation, then use a roller with straight alcohol to dissolve the patchy area and get it to even out. Then, put a second coat over the top. Great stuff to fix at a later date, plus if I understand correctly, it is natural, not poisionous.

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I just had the same thing only mine was on particle board flooring.I scraped off what I could with a plastic putty knife and vacuumed up the bits and pieces. Try using warm water with dish soap to clean off the rest. If it left the wood splotchy when its all removed then you probably have to refinish anyway. Also try mineral spirits. Wash off with soap and water after the mineral spirits.

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