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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    4

    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    1,180

    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,794

    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    4

    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,794

    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    4

    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, MO
    Posts
    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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