Grayish black spots not sanded out

Q: I have hardwood floors in a rental home. When my tenants vacated last week I found the floors were trashed. In the heavy traffic areas the polyurethane is completely worn away and the floor in those spots look grayish black. I sanded down the entire floor, but noticed that a bit of the grayish tint remained in those areas. I sanded more but it still remained.

Finally I got frustrated and put down my stain. The stain just enhanced it and the floors look just as bad as before. I see from online searches that this grayish black spots could be from water or element damage? And there was a suggestion of using vinegar or wood bleach? If I try this, do I need to sand the stain away first? I’m hoping to avoid having to rent a sander again and redo the entire floor, but definitely want to address it before sealing it. Please help ASAP!

A: If these areas are so bad that they cannot be hidden by stain and look as bad as ever, then the best thing to do is replace the flooring in that section. Wood bleach is not cheap and is quite corrosive. It would be more cost effective to change the wood in that area or go to a really dark stain.

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