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I have solid poplar floors with wood plugs to hide the screws. Recently I noticed this yellow stain around many of the plugs. The floor is finished with polyurethane. What might be causing it and what should I do to fix it?

  • How long have the floor boards been there? – Gern Blanston Jun 14 '19 at 16:47
  • About seven years – Barbara Jun 14 '19 at 17:35
  • 1
    That looks like staining from wood filler or glue or perhaps both -- but likely the former. Are you saying it only recently came up this colour? Or has it always been this way and you just noticed? Are the places you are seeing this where there is more light from windows present at least part of the year? Edit the question and let us know a little more detail. – jdv Jun 14 '19 at 18:07
  • I can't be sure of the cause of this if, as you say, the holes are plugged and not filled with filler but the likely fix is the same in either case — the unpalatable one of sanding down to the wood surface and refinishing. Polyurethane can be spot-refinished, despite its reputation for not allowing this, but, it's difficult to get a seamless result. So on furniture often it's better not to try and just grit your teeth and strip the piece or at least the entire of the affected surface. With a floor of course this means sanding the whole floor :-(( – Graphus Jun 15 '19 at 6:50

I am assuming that this has 'always' been this way and you just recently noticed it, because it looks like glue or wood-filler got smeared on when putting in the plug and they just poly'd over it. It is possible that as the wood has aged that it has gotten darker making the contrast more obvious.

As Graphus pointed out in the comments sanding it down and re-polying it are really your only options. Whether you decide to rent a floor sander and do the whole thing, or try and spot sand with a hand sander is up to you, but I'm guessing with the color of the poplar in the photo, spot sanding will lighten it up A LOT and make it look like an inverted Dalmatian. So my recommendation is either do the whole floor, or live with it as is...

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