padding stains & urine odor - old wood floor

Old 09-25-05, 04:04 PM
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Question padding stains & urine odor - old wood floor

I have 1938-vintage home with (until VERY recently) oak floors covered with wall-to-wall carpeting througout. Upon discovering that our cat had been urinating for some unknown length of time on the carpet in a hidden corner of the living room, I removed the carpeting from the whole room (didn't like it all that much anyway) and found a couple of issues beneath, which I hope someone else out there has successfully dealt with.

First, there were four or five places where the carpet pad - aqua-colored crimped closed-cell urethane rubber, as best I can determine - had fused itself to the floor. I did the heavy removal of the stuck pad with a plastic putty knife, which I followed up with a razor scraper. A slightly tacky residue from the pad still remained, which I then removed with #00 steel wool and mineral spirits. Needless to say, I am now committed to refinishing the floor. The pad residue is now completely gone, but there are black stains in the wood in the areas where the pad was stuck to the floor. These stains correspond precisely in shape and size to the areas where the pad was stuck to the floor. Am I likely to be able to sand these stains out, or should I expect to replace the boards?

Second, the odor from the cat pee... I gently but thoroughly scrubbed the problem area of the floor with the mineral spirits and #00 steel wool as described above, mopping up the mineral spirits with a rag as I went along. I let it dry overnight with the help of a small fan, and the following day the odor was nearly - but not entirely - gone. It was necessary to get right down next to it and sniff hard to detect any trace of the smell. I then used an enzyme based pet product - Simple Solutions cat pee version - in generous quantity. After about an hour, I detected the wetted area to be turning a milky white, which I presume means that the floor has (had?) a wax finish. (Like I said, my plan is to re-do the floor.) I don't know a whole lot about the subject of wood floors, but I'm good at following directions and pretty fearless about tackling big jobs.

I'm going to let the enzyme product dry overnight before I consider anything else. Did I screw up in any way? In a perfect world I would hope that I can save and restore the wood floor and not have to consider recarpeting the room. Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Your friend and mine,

Steve B
Old 09-26-05, 07:56 AM
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Sounds like your on the right track. The wood floor where you say the black spots are where the padding was stuck to it. You may want to try using a wood floor stripper and see what that does. If there was finish on it, which it sounds like it was. As most oil based finishes will turn a milky white color when exposed to a water based product. You may be able to strip off the finish and hopefully the black spots. If that doesnt work, i would suggest just replacing the boards. As it may be too late to save it. The urine may of seeped into the wood and would be beyond cleaning at this point.

Now for the odor problem. You did the right thing with the enzyme based product. I would strip the floor and refinish it. If you do replace boards, check the subfloor for any of the urine and clean according. Once you strip and finish the floor. It should remove/and seal in any remaining odors. Cat urine is one of the most difficult odors to remove. But it sounds like your on the right track.

You have serveral choices for finishing of your floor sounds like it is a urethane sealed floor NOW. Since, the finish turned white. Check around at your local home improvement store. See what you like and what fits in your price range and go from there. Urethane sealed floors are a bit cheaper and easier to finish, but they lack durability. Polyurethane sealed floors are best for areas exposed to water or spills, so their durability is better. But they are more expensive and complex to finish.

If the wood floor is over concrete, you may want to consider making sure if its not there. That the concrete is sealed and a moisture barrier be installed...if you want to get that far into it. Most modern applications of hardwood floors or laminate floors have this to help protect the floor.
Old 09-29-05, 06:48 PM
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Wax finish turns white if exposed to water. If someone applied wax over surface finish like polyurethane, the wax will turn white. The problem that poses itself is that once wax has been applied to a hardwood floor, then usually wax finish has to be reapplied because hardwood flooring contaminated with waxes or oils is contaminated. Contaminated wood floors tend to have adhesion problems if you plan on applying a surface finish like polyurethane.

While you may be able to sand areas affected by urine and seal in odors with wax, oil, or surface finish, urine that has settled between boards into subfloor can not be sealed in. Urine odor may persist, despite refinishing, and it will be more noticeable on warm, humid days. Sanding of wood soaked with urine will activate the ammonia in urine, and the odor can be quite breathtaking.

Boards that have been affected by urine tend to have dark stains that penetrate deep into the wood. This usually requires replacement of affected boards with boards from inconspicuous area such as inside a closet. Another option, if sanding tends to lighten the stains, is to stain the floor a dark color in order to camouflage the stains. Again, wax finish on floors will tend to cause adhesion problems with stains and surface finishes.

For more information on finishing wood floors, go to

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