The finishing touch on a wood floor is the stain and polyurethane top coating. The purpose of these floor toppings is to make the floor look attractive and also to protect the wood from damage due to wear and tear. While the coating makes the floor look shiny and new, it can also cause problems over time, including a tacky surface.
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When a floor is tacky, it feels sticky and sometimes soft to the touch. You know that you have a serious problem when at each step your feet or shoes stick to the floor a bit before releasing. You can hear the sound, which is similar to ripping hook-and-loop tape apart at each step.
Sometimes a tacky wood floor is caused by heat or humidity in the air. As the top coating gets hot, it may soften and cause the feeling of stickiness to the touch. In other cases the tackiness is simply due to dirt and buildup on the floor caused by tracking dirt, mud and other substances into the house with your shoes.
Sometimes cleaning the wood floor with a degreasing cleanser can help remove buildup that is causing the floor to feel sticky. Look for a floor-cleansing product that specifically tackles the removal of buildup on your floor. The buildup is similar to the stickiness that sometimes develops on your stovetop over time; you may find success using the same product you use on your stovetop on the floors, but test it in a small area first. If that doesn't resolve the problem, you may have to buff the top coating of the floor to remove the old polyurethane coating and start again. You can rent a floor buffer at some home improvement stores and also purchase new lacquer for the floor.
Preventing the Issue
To avoid future problems with a tacky floor, manage the temperature of the room where you have wood floors better. Keep the room temperature around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, using air conditioning when the room's hot. Also, require guests to remove their shoes at the door or wipe them off thoroughly on a mat near the door so that they don't leave anything on the wood floor.