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Wood just doesn't cotton to water all that much. A little water sitting on a sealed and waxed floor can leave a stain in a matter of minutes (someone didn't read their guide to protecting and maintaining flooring). Fortunately, the damage can be reversed. Here's how: To remove a smoky white haze or a white spot, buff the finish with a soft cotton cloth and a very mild abrasive, such as whitening toothpaste, auto-polishing compound, or tobacco ash mixed with mineral oil, until the stain disappears. To remove more serious black or white water stains on wood flooring, take the following steps:
• Mask off the surrounding boards with painter's masking tape.
• First remove any wax or surface finish. Use fine steel wool to remove wax, and sandpaper to remove a surface finish. Depending on the size of the area you want to repair, hand-sand with a rubber sanding block or machine-sand with a random-orbit sander. In both cases, start with 80- or even 60-grit abrasive and sand to 100-grit. Sand just up to the edges of unaffected boards.
• Mix oxalic acid crystals (available at paint or hardware stores) in 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) or so of hot water and stir to dissolve them. Keep adding crystals until they won't dissolve anymore.
• Pour, brush or sponge the solution on the stained area. Once it has dried completely, brush off the crystals and repeat the process until the stain is gone.
• Stain or seal, then refinish the affected area. Or, if the touch-up stands out too much, use the screen-and-overcoat method to restore the entire floor.