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It is an unavoidable truth of hardwood floors that gaps will eventually open up between the boards, parallel to their long sides. Keeping the humidity constant in your home can help to limit the swelling and shrinking of your boards, but in older homes, those seasonal gaps may have become permanent. How do you cope with those?

Q. I'm sanding a floor from the 1910s where an old rug had been tacked down in the middle of the floor. There was no finish at all under the rug, but there was a coating of some kind around the edge, along the walls. The problem is that the area that was under the rug is much darker than the perimeter and no matter how much I sand, I can't get it to lighten to match the edge. Why can't I sand that wood clean?  Buddy W. New Jersey

Q. Is there an easy way to remove this layer of black stuff on my hardwood floor? 

If you've got one of those lovely Twin Cities houses with cast iron radiators, how do you sand around it? Great question - we're glad you're proactive about solving potential sanding challenges.