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  1. #1
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    I have a 1920s house with beautiful floors. I had a crew working on repairing the plaster walls and ceilings. There was drywall dust everywhere in spite of drop cloths. Rather than shop-vacking thoroughly, they washed the floors with Murphy's Oil Soap. The dust now seems to be ground into the wood. Any recommendations for restoring the floors? They haven't been sealed with polyurethane.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2010
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    From what I know of Murphy's (it's a scourge) you are kind of screwed. It will need to be removed with a solvent. Try ammonia first, graduate to paint thinner and acetone. But you should have mopped the floor with white vinegar solution to break up the drywall dust. It works great.
    Murphy's is just a greasy film-creating nightmare under normal conditions, plays havoc with future refinishing, and should probably be banned, when there are so many cleaners that actually work well.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    For future reference, whenever I worked over hardwood floors, I completely covered the floors with rosin paper, taping all the seams. Often I would think as I was laying it down that this might be overkill, however, at the end of the job, as I looked at all the dust and crud all over the the rosin paper, I knew I had made the right decision. It was well worth the time and few dollars it had cost. When the rosin paper was lifted by gently folding it inward, the floors were complete clean, needing no further cleaning.

    When working in homes where the floors were to be sanded, I actually preferred to go in after the sanding and finishing, because I knew that I would not damage them. Also, the floor sanding dust would not get all over my new paint job!

  4. #4
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    My husband seems to think that drywall dust is soluble. I like the idea of using vinegar solution. What strength do you recommend?

  5. #5
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    Flowing water is the enemy of wood floors. At best, they can be mopped with terry cloth which has been wrung out. Vinegar is normally used for its anti-spotting properties, especially in hard water areas. The slighty acidic vinegar helps keep the calcium/limestone in the water from spotting. That is why it is commonly put in window washing liquids. I use about a cup of white vinigar in half a pail of water when washing windows, along with just a few drops of dishwashing detergent.

    Does your floor have any varnish or other finish on it at all? If the white dry wall dust has gotten down into the grain of the wood, you might not be able to get rid of it at all,short of refinishing. You might be able to mask it by rubbing down the whole floor with an oil stain of a similar color. The dust will absorb the stain and darken. Buff the stain dry so as not to leave stain on the surface. Let the stain dry for several hours. If it has left the floor dull, try buffing with a little lemon oil. I would test this process in an obscure corner first. Obviously, the floor must be dry of water before trying the oil stain.

    Another thing that you might try is Old English Polish in an appropriate shade, if one can be found. Stains would give you a wider choice, color wise.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    There is some sort of finish on the floors, just not urethane, probably a varnish. I'm a little leery about putting vinegar on wood, although a home recipe from Consumer Reports for cleaning food furniture uses a little olive oil mixed in white vinegar. I know it's excellent for cleaning glass and millions of other things. I also read somewhere that you can clean wood floors with tea. That might stain the dust. Seems innocuous, so I may give that a go. I certainly won't pour buckets of water, so don't worry, guys. Casey, are you saying I need to use ammonia and acetone to remove the Murphy's? Ordjen, do you use the same mixture of vinegar and water to clean wood floors? If there are good cleaners for non-polyurethane wood floors, what are they?
    Stephanie

  7. #7
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    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    PushkinsMama,

    I have urethaned floors and use products by Bona. It is a spray on solution that cleans with very minimal moisture and use of a micro-fiber mop head. Unfortunately, Bona products are only for urethane floors.

    Yes, I would use the vinigar solution on wood floors, but again only slightly damp. The micro-fiber mops do a good job.

    If you have older floors with possibly a shellac and wax finish, I would not use any water, period. There are cleaners on the market for wood floors which use no water at all.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2011
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    4

    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    A carpenter has looked at the floors and doesn't think they're too bad. He also is pretty certain there's some kind of urethane on them. He's going to refinish for us. Now, he told me that he refinished the floors in his house and the finish lasted 25 years. He refinished them about a year ago and is already seeing spots that need to be redone. I did my own floors about 20 years ago. The one which required 24 hours of dry time for the polyurethane between coats is still perfect. I was under a time constraint and had to use a quick-drying by Min-Wax on two other floors which have not weathered the years as well.
    I looked at Consumer Reports but can find no recommendations on good, long-lasting products. Tom Silva just appears in a video putting a base coat and quick-drying polyurethane that's water-based. Something tells me that's not going to do the job I want. Any advice or recommendations? I'd like something that lasts.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    Pushkin,

    You have to read the labels on some of these touch-up type urethane finishes. The use of some of them will preclude the use of a regular urethane. Even Bona has such a product, but if you use it, the next time you want to use regular urethane, you have no choice but to sand the floors. You can keep on giving periodic coats of the touch-up variety, but you can't go back to the real thing!

    Under the best situation, urethanes are very touchy about what they will stick to, even themselves. The oil versions have a window, about 4 to 12 hours, where they can be re-coated without sanding or screening. After the 12 hours they are cured to the point where screening is neccessary to assure bonding.

    If there is any residue from past cleaning agents such as Murphy's Oil Soap, you are asking for bonding problems. Were I to try to put a full urethane coat over such a floor, I would first wipe down the floor with dampened rags to remove the water soluble dirt. After dry, I would then go over the floors with mineral spirits with a fine scrubby pad, wiping the residue up with clean rags or soft paper towels. Allow time for the mineral spirits to thoroughly dry. You should be then ready to coat with a quality urethane. My bias is still toward the oil based urethanes. The water based versions are mainly used because of their fast dry time and low odor, admirable qualities, especially if the house is occupied. Water versions do reguire more coats to achieve a similar longevity. Usually 4 coats are recommended. Oil requires two coats for new applications, with a 3rd being advisable.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Kansas City, MO
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    9

    Default Re: Drywall dust and hardwood floors

    As far as cleaning products go, a professional in my area (Kansas City) says to only use BANO cleaning products, which you can find at Home Depot. You might give those a try. If you are worried about messing up the floors, try this. If you have the wood also in your closets, try the cleaning in there first. that way if it does do something bad, it's in a pretty much unimportant area. Or you could try testing it in a place that you noramlly put furniture or a rug.

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