Mold and mildew on floor

Q: We just removed carpet/pad and subfloor (particle board subfloor) to see a painted (flat white paint) original fir floor. There was mold/mildew in all 3 layers (rug to subfloor) and it still smells 2 weeks later after being sprayed with straight white vinegar, cleaned with simple green, and then sprayed with tea tree oil and water mix. Is the floor salvageable?

Is there anything that will take the odor away? We’ve scraped patches of the paint off and the smell is in the wood as well.

A: Perhaps you ought to try bleach, which will kill mold spores.

Webmaster’s note: I’ve since learned bleach is a bad idea, at least on some molds. Complications..

Related Q: I purchased a condo where the previous owner had smoked for 20 years.

We pulled out the carpet and installed red oak (unfinished) over concrete subfloor. Two months later, there is still a strong woody/musty odor. It is noticeable when you first walk in. Should this odor start to diminish? It hasn’t and I am starting to wonder if I have a mold or mildew issue. (I live in Chicago and humidity is high right now.)

A: I don’t think you can connect smoking to a musty or damp smell or to mold. Did you also clean and paint the walls? If you have a mold issue it will be found near a water source.

Related Q: My kitchen floor has gotten darker over the edges, it’s all tile wood. Included images.

A: I hardly know what to say about this. We have a kitchen and then another area that looks like there may be a bathroom or mudroom because I can see tile next to the wood.

You have enough of a moisture issue in your home to be a breeding ground for mold but not enough to cause the boards to twist. I would very strongly recommend you contact either an inspector from National Wood Flooring Association or a home inspector from a reliable outfit. They are probably going to have to lift some of those boards to have a look. You could have significant issues going on here, in particular with mold.