Finish has worn off the floor

Q: I recently removed my living room carpeting, as it was filled with pet stains. The hardwood floor underneath was for the most part in good shape. There are a few areas where the finish has come off the hardwood floor. The floor boards are in great shape, no warping and the floor cleaned up nicely. However I want to know if I can just refinish these areas of the floor if there are no deep stains or smells. Can I re-stain these areas of the floor without having to refinish the entire floor?

A: Is the floor actually stained a different colour? Are you saying the finish has pulled off these areas or it has worn off with time and exposed the wood? If this is the case, and the wood has become discolored and you want a nice job, it really should be sanded professionally from scratch. When properly done the floors should give you years of very good use, with the occasional refresher coat when it starts to show signs of wear or marking.

Reply: The finish has worn off the floor. The areas are down to the natural wood with absolutely no finish on them. The wood in these areas is in excellent condition and there is absolutely no odor in the wood from the pet stains. We are eventually thinking of having the floors refinished, but in the meantime I would like to know if I can refinish over these areas until we have the time and money to refinish the floors. I’m looking for a temporary fix until that time is feasible.

A: Brush several coats of finish over the spot, buffing lightly between coats. It will show, but at least it will protect the wood until you are ready to have them refinished.

Severe black spots

Q: We just pulled up our carpet, and there are severe (water) black spots on our wood floors.

A: It depends how extensive the damage is. If it is only one or two confined areas, you can change the boards with new. If it is extensive, you either have to replace the floor, or stain it very dark to try and hide the black. It is unlikely it will come out with a professional sander doing the work, but it is never possible to know for sure until the work is started.

Similar Q: My landlord is on my case about a large circular black “burn” (small baseball size) that is outside of my room door. Never noticed it before, looks like dark discolouration knot but spans into 3 pieces of wood slightly and seems to be under finish coat. Thoughts on what can cause this clean circular burn? Might it be a mistake from the sanders/finish coat floor workers? Thanks.

A: Black marks can be anything from water damage to fungus to tannin in the wood reacting with the solvents in the finish.

Pet urine stains

Q: We just purchased a home with hardwood floors throughout; however they all have dark brown stains. We do not know if it is from water damage or from pets; my husband think they are urine stains from the previous owners pets. We would love to keep the hardwood floors and are hoping that the stains can either be removed or be covered. Can you please tell us what we could do to save our floors? Can we stain them darker to hide the stains if we are unable to remove them?

A: I don’t know of any certain way to remove the stains. If the floor is stained dark, it should help to mask the marks.

Pet stains and hardwood flooring

Q: My husband and I are considering laying parquet flooring in our living room and removing the carpet b/c our dog cannot seem to stop staining the carpet. We feel hardwood would be better but after reading your website I see that pet stains are a problem with hardwood. Is there a way that we can protect the wood after it is laid to prevent the urine from soaking into the wood in case we do not find it quickly?

A: Pet stains are a particular problem with older floors that had only been waxed. Polyurethane offers better protection, and in your situation, parquet may be the better choice, rather than long strip since it is less likely to develop any gaps from one small piece to the next. Therefore, the polyurethane finish is more likely to offer an unbroken seal of protection over the surface of the entire floor. I would suggest multiple coats. At least 5 to start.

Who am I to say, but unless your dog is elderly and ill, I would be investigating ways to train him so he did his business outside. I know it can be done. I also know that each pet has his or her own personality and they can become upset and stressed, just like us. I had gone through 2 weeks with my Boston terrier when my wife was away. She had never been apart from him, and he had never let me put him outside. We were doing pretty well by the end of the 2 weeks, though he still had “accidents” in the house. Now he lets me put him out. Progress!:)

Getting black stains out

Q: My husband and I recently purchased an older home and were hoping to refinish the floors after pulling up the carpet. It is oak flooring. Is there anything that I can use to get the black stains out?

A: I know of no way to get black stains out. Sometimes they sand out, but is often impossible to know ahead of time. If it is not a large area, the damaged spot(s) could be replaced with matching flooring and refinished. An alternate is to stain the floors darker to try and hide the spots.

Black spots on wood floor

Q: We recently bought a house built in the 1920’s. We removed the carpet to find that there are black spots on wood floor; stains all over the hardwood floors. We have sanded the floors and the stains are still there. How can we remove them without knowing what caused them?

A: Most likely these black spots “all over” your floors, are pet stains. It cannot be removed. Your choices are to stain the floors dark to try and camouflage the stains or remove and replace the floor.