Coating Reactions To Spills, Drips & sprays — How To Fix Stained Wood

  • April 19, 2023
  • News

Over time, drips, spills and sprays will invariably come into contact with a coated timber floor. Sometimes, it’s as easy as quickly wiping up the offending material. At other times you may not be aware of it, so it remains for a period of time on the floor, which can result in a permanent marking.

All of the above can be classified as surface contaminants of varying aggressiveness to the coating, ranging from significant to negligible. Here are some insights into coating reactions to spills, drips and sprays.

Common spills, drips and sprays

Common spills include:

  • • Cleaning materials
  • • Cordial and soft drinks
  • • Nail polish remover
  • • Wine
  • • Wall and ceiling paint
  • • Pet “accidents”
  • • Caustic-based cleaners
  • • Alcohol-based cleaners
  • • Isopropyl alcohol screen cleaners

Common drips include:

  • • Wall and ceiling paint
  • • Garbage bag contents
  • • Drinks and beverages (including tea bag drips)
  • • Opened cans and dispensers
  • • Animal flea treatments
  • • Fragrant oils, when heated

Common sprays include:

  • • Insect sprays
  • • Household cleaners
  • • Ironing sprays
  • • Insect repellents
  • • Wall and ceiling paint
  • • Pet products

How to deal with common spills, drips and sprays

If your floor is subject to a spill, drip or spray, action should be taken as soon as possible to minimise damage. The longer a surface contaminant is in contact with the floor, the more likely that surface damage will result. Here is a suggested procedure:

  • • Dab the contaminant with an absorbent paper towel or tissue. Don’t completely wipe it up, as it can cause the contaminant to penetrate the coated surface further.
  • • Soak up any remaining surface contaminant with an absorbent paper towel.
  • • If the surface is marked, wipe the affected area with a wet paper towel that’s been dipped in water combined with a mild, diluted dishwashing detergent.
  • • Wipe dry and examine.
  • • If the surface is damaged or marked, take remedial action.

Remedial action

This will depend on the contaminant. For example, immediate dab removal may avoid permanent surface damage from a solvent. However, treating paint drips from wall paint with methylated spirits would smear the paint splatter and etch it into the floor coating surface leaving permanent marking. Using a drop sheet would avoid this issue.

In terms of pet urine stains, it depends on the surface coating. Solvent-based polyurethanes are more resilient than water-based polyurethanes. But if surface urine is left on the floor unattended for long periods, it can degrade the coating and result in a blackening of the floor.

However, it has also been found that some stains can be removed with careful sanding and applying an oxalic acid solution.

Tips to avoiding damage to coated timber floors

Different coatings and products have different chemical resistance. Laminates are the most chemical-resistant surface, and penetrating oils are the least chemical resistant. However, it’s also worth noting that cleaning products can also damage floors, so the coating manufacturer’s advice should be followed. Using twice the recommended concentration also won’t result in the floor being twice as clean. Instead, it can leave a cloudy, streaky residue that actually makes the floor look less clean.

You should also never use general household products or acidic cleaners on a coated timber floor. These include bleach, ammonia, household detergents, kerosene, petroleum distillates and methylated spirits, as they can irreversibly damage the finish. Also, avoid wax, steel wool, household polishes or any abrasive cleaners. Neutral pH cleaners are recommended and are often available from flooring suppliers, but they must be laminate-safe.

Lastly, anti-static dry mops should be the primary way you clean your coated timber floors. Never use a steam mop!


2019, Coating reactions to spills, drips and sprays, Australasian Timber Flooring Association

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