Removing Old Plaster From Hardwood Floors



I have just pulled up carpet to find hardwood floors underneath. I would like to keep them, but I need to fix them up a bit. There is dried spackle or something stuck to it. I don’t know if I should try to sand it off, or if there is something I can put on it to dissolve it. How should I do this?


Dear Heather

You can usually remove old plaster off floors, by applying warm water to it. Then once it has softened use a blunt putty knife to push it off. You could also wet a white clean rag, and apply this to the plaster and then apply a hot clothes iron, this might work better on really suborn plaster. If it’s latex paint try a product called Goof-Off at

You might also want to use a pH neutral cleaner on all the floors. Be sure to read the second half of my cleaning article in the Floored News section of this site. It will give you lots of ideas on how to identity and fix up the finish on these old floors. You could spot sand the areas, but know your finish, so you can do effective touch-ups.

If you find after reading the article that you have a fairly sound finish, and you intend to re-coat the floor, you can try some TSP with the warm water to help dissolve the old plaster spots. But if you are going to re-sand don’t bother with the plaster at all, it will come off with the first pass of the sander.

Oh, by the way if you re-sand all the floors be to hire a pro to do at least the sanding, but consider doing the floor finish yourself. Save some money and become a floor finish expert.

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.