What causes yellow stains on vinyl flooring

What causes yellow stains on vinyl flooring
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If your vinyl flooring is starting to get yellow stains on it, you might be wondering why this is happening. It looks unsightly, but how can you stop it from occurring?

Vinyl flooring may be stained yellow by a few different things, including certain kinds of rugs, sun damage, and mold growth. Standing water might also cause yellowing in places.

What creates yellow stains on vinyl flooring?

There are quite a few things that can make vinyl flooring turn yellow in places, and if this is happening to your flooring, it’s important to figure out what the cause is. This will help you to prevent further damage from happening, and may help you to get rid of the stains too.

Let’s explore the major causes of yellow stains on your flooring, and then look at the solutions.

Problem: Rubber rugs

Yellow stains can be caused by using rubber-backed rugs on your floors. A lot of people like to add mats that have rubber backing because these will not slip on the vinyl floor, so they stay in the desired location. However, the rubber can cause a reaction with the vinyl.

According to RugPadUSA, this is true for both natural rubber and synthetic rubber. This reaction tends to be sparked by heat, and you might think that your rugs don’t get hot – but when the sun falls on them or even when friction is created by walking, they do get warm enough to react.

Some rubber-backed rugs do advertise themselves as non-staining, but on the whole, it’s best not to use rubber on your vinyl floors. If you really need rubber, for example as a bath mat, opt for non-staining rugs.

The solution

If your floor has already been marked by rubber rugs, you can try to remove the stain using mineral spirits. Make sure you test this method in a small, inconspicuous area first to check it doesn’t damage your floor further, and use gloves to protect your hands.

  1. Add mineral spirits to a spray bottle and spray a thin layer across the stained area.

  2. Take a soft cloth and firmly rub and scrub at the area until the stain lifts. If the stain starts transferring to the cloth, get another clean cloth so you aren’t rubbing it back onto the floor.

  3. Keep doing this until you have removed the stain from the floor.

  4. Rinse the area with clean water and open a window so that the strong smell of spirits can escape.

Note that it can be very difficult to get this kind of yellow stain off your flooring, so try to prevent it instead by avoiding rubber products. There is no harm in trying to remove an existing stain, but don’t use abrasives on it, as this may further damage the floor and make it look worse.

Problem: sun damage

Unfortunately, yellowing is very frequently caused by sun damage, and you will probably notice that any areas where the sun hits fade and yellow more quickly than other areas. The sun is known for bleaching color out of almost all materials, and this is likely to produce yellow patches. Patio doors and large bay windows are often the culprits.

Heat can also have a similar effect, so if you have vinyl flooring in your kitchen, this may occur around your oven, especially if you use it a lot. Fireplaces may have the same result.

The solution

There isn’t really a solution to sun damage in an area, because the sun will have stripped the color out of the floor itself. This isn’t a stain that you can remove. However, you can minimize it by using blinds or curtains to keep the sun out when it is at its strongest.

If you have vinyl flooring in the same room as a fire or oven, consider putting some protective heat-safe material on top of it permanently to prevent damage or to hide any damage that has already occurred.

Problem: mold growth

If the room is damp, yellow staining could be caused by mold. You might find that moisture is rising up from the floor, or dripping down onto it, and this will cause the floor to warp and turn yellow.

You may also see other colored stains forming if it is mold you’re dealing with. Mold can be yellow, gray, pink, blue, or black. If you see these strange, multicolored stains, you’ll need to check what is causing the dampness and see if you can tackle it at its source.

The solution

You may be able to remove mold stains using diluted bleach. Make sure you test this on a small area of your floor first, to ensure it doesn’t damage the appearance further. Most vinyl floors should hold up to bleach well, but you should always check. Wear gloves to protect your hands.

  1. Mix 1 part bleach with 3 parts warm water, and then dip a microfiber cloth into the solution.

  2. Squeeze the cloth out until it’s damp but not dripping, and then start scrubbing the area. You don’t want to make it very wet, but you do want the bleach to have enough presence to be effective.

  3. If necessary, increase the ratio of bleach slightly, but remember to do a spot test before using this on the flooring. You don’t want to create lighter areas where the bleach has stripped the color out.

  4. Keep rubbing at the area until the stain has lifted. You may not be able to get rid of it completely, but this should help.

  5. Use clean water to rinse away the bleach and then dry the floor with an old towel.

Can rubber stain vinyl?

Rubber is one of the commonest causes of staining on vinyl flooring. Some rubber stains will fade if you move the rubber away from the spot and leave it exposed to air, but some stains are much more stubborn.

Be aware of this before adding anything to your floor. Rubber-backed bath mats, furniture with rubber stoppers, and rubber rugs should be avoided. These things will leave big yellow stains where they have reacted with the floor.

Can you use latex backed rugs on vinyl plank flooring?

No, you shouldn’t use latex backed rugs on any kind of vinyl flooring. The latex will also react with the vinyl and leave stains. It may not happen immediately, but it will gradually occur. Keep rubber and latex away from your vinyl floors to prevent staining.

What can you do about a permanent stain?

A lot of yellow stains on vinyl flooring will prove difficult or impossible to shift. You will then generally need to choose between sanding and refinishing the flooring, or replacing it.

Sanding and refinishing it will often be the cheapest option, but it is quite a big process. You will need to get professionals to do it for you, and the floor will then need to be buffed and waxed to restore its protective coating and reduce the risk of further damage.

Try to prevent stains on vinyl flooring by closing your curtains to keep out the sun, avoiding rubber backed rugs or furniture with rubber legs, and keeping the area clean and free from mold.

Image source: “World’s Biggest Bookstore” by PinkMoose is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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