Removing black rust stains from nails and staples on hardwood floor.

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Forum topic by Canofworms posted 06-22-2014 11:18 PM 20284 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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103 posts in 1773 days

06-22-2014 11:18 PM

OK. So I posted a bunch of questions and tried several things and decided to put it up here for your comments and to help others in my dilemma.

The problem is that the staples and nails in the hundred year old white oak floor got wet several time over the years. Whether it is water or urine I don’t know, but there are a lot and it will be really unsightly if not addressed.
Ripping it up and replacing is not an option.
The floor has been sanded already.

So you see it is pretty bad.

I have 6 products to try out:
I will apply each product and let sit for 15 minutes.

Tsp 1 tbls to 4 oz warm water
Naval jelly (Loctite * not rust neutralizer—this will turn rust black)
Lemon juice and salt (1 tbls to 2 oz)
Calcium lime rust remover product (CLR)
A big pencil eraser
Barkeepers friend mixed to a paste with water

Results: Naval jelly and Barkeepers friend worked the best. But naval jelly seemed to give even better results after I removed and rinsed with water and went to the store to find a neutralizing agent of baking soda (two hours later.)
In the naval jelly pictures you will see I carefully applied the jelly. I then removed the rest of the visible jelly and rinsed with water.
After, I decided to use the naval jelly I applied it to several areas and let it sit for a little over an hour. This was a bad idea because the pink jelly absorbed into the surrounding wood and dried and was difficult to get out. The barkeepers friend was good at that.

Barkeepers friend seems to be the better because the naval jelly leaves a concerning pink hue if left too long and is caustic.

The pics in order are TSP, CLR, LEMON, rubber Eraser, Barkeepers friend and NAVAL JELLY.

This is the naval jelly after sitting a few hours not neutralized.

One thing to consider is that even a light sanding will bring the stain back.*
this is the naval jelly after a light sand.

And here is what it looks like after using naval jelly over most of the stains.

5 replies so far

View Canofworms's profile


103 posts in 1773 days

#1 posted 06-24-2014 11:19 PM

So if I had it to do over again I would use a child’s medicine syringe available at the pharmacy counter usually free
And wither naval jelly or the Barkeepers friend as a paste.
I would suck up the naval jelly or barkeepers friend and carefully apply a thick glob to the spot.
I would let it sit for 1-15 minutes and then suck up excess with the shop vac.
Then use a small paint brush to wet the spot and suck that up and repeat.
The way I did it the pink dye from the jelly soaked into the unstained wood. It is a very light stain and better than the dark stains. HOWEVER
When I used baking soda paste to neutralize the naval jelly it immediately brought back the stain and wicked the stain out to cover the entire area that was damp.
So I had to repeat the process with Barkeepers friend to remove this.

I am debating whether to take a small drill bit to the remaining dark stained staple holes.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2475 posts in 4141 days

#2 posted 07-02-2014 05:39 PM

oxycilic acid AKA deck brightner, will handle the stains .. its for metal and rust stains,, does quite well

View danoaz's profile


223 posts in 2441 days

#3 posted 09-13-2014 12:52 PM

Just to be clear about the cause of the black stain – it may be from rust as you would think from water on metal (the Nail) but what I am also finding out is that the wood will react with the nail too. Meaning that even if you get a coated or “rust proof” nail or staple it can still produce the black stains because of the wood reacting with the metal. The only way to go to prevent this is with stainless steel nails and staples and brads. I learned this the hard way too.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View dhazelton's profile


2832 posts in 2567 days

#4 posted 09-13-2014 01:25 PM

That area must have gotten wet a lot as the wood has shrunk across the width pretty severely. Where you are at seems to be about the best so I would chalk it up to character. If it still bugs you than put a throw rug down.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5168 posts in 4231 days

#5 posted 09-13-2014 01:57 PM

BIG +1 on the oxalic acid. That’s an active ingredient in Barkeepers Friend.
Just so ya know.

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