Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Fix: Removing White Drink Rings from Wood

Who knew there were a couple of easy ways to remove white moisture marks from wood surfaces?

As Bonnie McCarthy of Houzz says, the coming celebratory time of year often results in unexpected stains appearing on precious wooden tables and benches, causing good people to last in our thoughts, at what should be a happy time of year, for the wrong reasons. However, Bonnie allows us to refocus on our celebrations, by consulting some experts and finding a couple of really simple solutions to get rid of the marks.

Bonnie consulted Bruce Johnson, a US fine woods expert, and Timothy Dahl, the editor of DIY site, Charles & Hudson.

Bruce said “What we’re looking at when we see a white mark — sometimes it’s a white ring, sometimes it’s a cloudiness — is moisture that’s trapped in the finish. That’s the sign of a weak finish". A white mark means you surface compound is wearing out and is no longer completely waterproof. However, because it is white, it also means the moisture has not yet got into the wood itself.

If the moisture had reached the wood, the stain would be dark (or black). That's game over: refinishing time.

So, if you find a white mark, DON'T put polish or wax on it, as that will seal the surface and stop the moisture drying off. The moisture may then migrate down into the wood. Bruce suggests leaving the piece to dry out in a dry place, maybe fan-or blow dryer-aided. Which brings us to his fix.

Bruce's spotted-soon-after fix: use a blow dryer on warm/low and wave it back and forth over the patch until the white evaporates. Don't hold it in one place for too long, so you don't overheat your wood surface (and crack, soften or discolour it). If your surface does looks different after the patch has gone, try buffing it up with with a soft, lint-free cloth.

But, even if you find a mark that has been there for a while, all is not YET lost. While Timothy says “There is a point of no return [that] depends on how long the moisture has been locked in there and how long it has dried”, he has removed white water marks that are several months old, using the following method.

Timothy's oh-no-I-didn't-realise-'til-later fix: paste mayonnaise exactly over the mark and leave it for around three hours (though if that doesn't work completely, try reapplying and leaving it overnight). After the waiting period, simply wipe it up.

Lastly, what you need to do in either case is to reapply your surface coating system, as the white marks are a sign that your surface is failing.


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