March 30, 2021

White Marks On Tabletops: The Curse Of The Hot Pizza Box

White Marks On Tabletops: The Curse Of The Hot Pizza Box

Most of us grew up with a piece of furniture in the house — likely a dining table or maybe a coffee or side table — that bore a cloudy white mark on the surface. As your disappointed mother probably pointed out, “it’s because you put something hot there without a pad.” 

Mom was right about that. Your hot pizza box, take-out carton or her hot casserole dish was the culprit. But she wasn’t really correct if she said the furniture was ruined or that the only way to repair it is to refinish the piece. 

“All that white mark is,” said Gat Caperton, “is trapped moisture. The finish on your furniture is there to prevent the exchange of moisture from the air to the wood. That hot item softened the finish enough for it to separate from the wood. When the area cooled, condensation gathered and once the finish re-hardened the moisture couldn’t escape.”

We’re talking a relatively small amount of moisture so it is not doing any damage to speak of. And, in fact, the cloudy mark might dissipate on its own over time. But often it doesn’t, which has inspired any number of home remedies — from hair dryers to harsh solvents. None of which work very well.

“We recommend a more professional approach,” Gat said. “Our preferred product is a spray can of Mohawk No Blush Plus Retarder. This mild solvent should be sprayed sparingly on the white mark. Over a few hours the finish will soften enough for the moisture to evaporate.

“The important thing is to use it with care and patience,” Gat added. “Use just a little and wait a few hours. The product works slowly. And avoid the temptation to touch the area you have sprayed until it has fully dried or you will leave a fingerprint.”

In most cases, the white mark will disappear after one or two rounds of this spray-and-wait process. Celebrate with a pizza.