Getting burn marks out of wood?

Well, we just had our first guests that did real damage. They lit a mosquito coil and set it on our wood floor right next to the bed. It’s a miracle the bed skirt or the mosquito netting did not catch on fire!

I suspect the answer is going to be “sand, sand and sand again”, but does anyone have any other things to try to get a burn mark out of wood before I drag out the sandpaper?

What a pain. Try wire wool with some oil on like linseed or Danish oil. I don’t know if that would match your existing finish though.

Is this real, solid wood planks, or one of those “Pergo” type laminate floors? If it’s real wood, then and only then do you want to sand. Then you’ll have to find a “color pen” to match the wood stain on the floor.

If it’s a Pergo type floor use a small wad of 0000 (4-0) steel wool with an few drops of oil as mentioned above. scrub as small an area as possible as lightly as possible to see if the burn mark will come away without destroying any more area. Again, you’ll have to find a “color pen” because the under layer of material is not wood colored.

Alternatively stencil a design on the floor to camouflage the burn. How about a stencil letter set then you could write house rules on the floor including no flammables.
Actually there’s a weirdo guest going round the UK who has burnt 2 tables and 1 duvet cover and is still on the platform. I had a narrow escape with her.

A black burn mark or a white scorch like from a hot pan set upon a wood surface?

Black burn mark. This is real wood, not a laminate.

How much are you charging them for the damage? That’s bad and you can’t just “get it out.” I bought an old desk years ago that was a medium oak from the era when people smoked everywhere, all the time. There were multiple cigarrette burns and I had to sand the entire top, stain it a darker color and still burns are visible. Properly repairing this would probably involve removing the ruined boards and replacing if possible or refinishing the entire floor. If it’s right next to a bed perhaps a rug can be placed there but that doesn’t absolve them of the damage. If I or one of my party had done something like that in my Costa Rica rental (not possible due to tile floors) I would have expected to lose my entire $1000 deposit.

Just wondering - did you supply the coil?

No, we did not supply the coil. I’ve never had a guest light a coil INSIDE the house before.

I haven’t decided how much the charge will be. That’s part of the reason I’m looking for options for repair. Our floor does have a lot of character, with a lot of variations in color, and if I could get 90% of it out and the remainder does not look like a coil anymore, then I’d be happy.

@konacoconutz had a bad mosquito coil experience at her rental, I think it was also using a coil inside.

without seeing the whole floor I can’t say for certain but consider options where part of the burn if not all, is removed from the floor and an undamage piece from under a piece of furniture or cabinetry is put in it’s place. then sand and refinish.

if you did not supply it them i would be looking at the cost of having the entire floor refinished as it will now have a shiny patch and I would be beyond furious!

We just finished the floor for the first time last September with polyurethane, so it should be possible to sand and refinish just the area and “feather” the new poly in. I was just hoping someone knows some less-drastic measures than sanding.

The guest should pay for their stupidity, but on the upside, the burn mark is clean and, in a funky, artistic kind of way, not unattractive. I might even be tempted to poly over it to make it look deliberate.


There is a twisted kind of logic that says we should leave it to show people why we DON’T allow mosquito coils in the house!


I think that’s a splendid idea.

I would just leave it there, it looks kind of good, and like others have said, use it to educate other guests.

That WILL come out with sanding, but you’ll want to make a long, shallow sand-out on either side of the mark on that plank, so that you don’t end up with a ‘dish’ right where the mark is; if you see what I mean. You want to feather the deep removal so it’s less noticeable. That whole area will then need to be re-finished with whatever the original finish is.

I do lots of woodworking – musical instruments and a variety of craft items.

Yes, @KenH, I now what you mean - I do a lot of woodwork myself. I was just hoping for an easier answer!

Our floor boards in that room are rather cupped already - they never got a finish applied when the house was built, and it’s an open-air house in the Caribbean and they warped. So I’m not too worried about yet another indentation. And that boards already have “character marks” on them, so I may just leave this there for now! But my DH is going to be furious that someone did this. I’m much more worried about placating him than fixing the floor.

I think it would be a really good story for our housekeeper to tell people during the introductory tour - that the guests lit the coil then fell asleep and the mosquito coil fell on the floor right next to the bed, and it’s a miracle the bedding didn’t catch on fire. It would make an impression on people to be careful, I hope.

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I’m with TuMo on this: it’s a powerful spiral symbol. I’d leave it there.

And if that’s not what you’d like to do, then yes, the guests should pay for the entire floor to be refinished. It’s outrageous that they brought a mosquito coil with them and set in alight inside.
Not only an obvious, serious fire hazard, but toxic in its fumes also.

Good memory! They lit one in the house. Insisted they didn’t. I didn’t have a scorch mark like these idiots. I just had a real bad smoky smell for about a week afterwards. They are banned from my property. Toxic.

When I hosted an entomologist from the pest control company during the dengue outbreak, she said mosquito coils actually attract them, not repel them.