Removing or lessening pet pee stains

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: We removed carpeting to find that pet stains have penetrated our beautiful hardwood floors – some areas are very dark, other areas appear almost “bleached” out.

We really don’t want to have to replace the wood. Do you have any suggestions on removing or lessening the stains? We do plan on sanding and refinishing the floors.

A: How large an area is damaged? If it is only a couple of spots, the best thing to do is replace that damaged area and re-sand, finish the floors. If it is everywhere, the only possibility is using a commercial bleach. This is very powerful stuff. I haven’t used it in years, and don’t even know if it is still available to the public. Sometimes a spot might look bad, but sand off cleanly. The only way to know for sure is to sand the floor and see if this mark has penetrated the wood deeply.

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A dark spot from dog urine

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I have a dark spot on my hardwood floor which came as the result of my dog urinating on the floor and I want to know how I can remove this stain. My floor is light colored and it has a polyurethane finish.

A: The boards that are so stained will likely have to be removed and replaced.

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Stain made the black spots return

Q: I took out a 40yr old carpet in a bed room. Under the carpet were black stains; I scrubbed it, bleached it, sanded it, bleached again and now more sanding. I thought it was ready for stain, but it brought up the black spots! I have not put the top coat on. Any suggestions? I know I have to sand again.

A: These are likely urine stains that have been soaking for years as the pet went back to the same spot over and over.  You will probably never be able to sand them out, especially given that every time the wood is sanded you remove more surface and the board keeps getting thinner and starts to break up.  The only other real option besides replacing the floor is to stain it dark.  Really dark.  Like ebony dark.  Even then you may still see blotches where the stains are.  If you go that route with a dark stain, water pop the wood first.  This technique wets (not soaks) the surface to open all the grain so the stain will penetrate more and appear darker.  Don’t miss any spots with the water and wait until it is dry before staining.  And while staining, do not drag or scuff your shoes on the wood as this could close the grain and leave light streaks.  When staining a floor you need to become a cross between a cat and a roadrunner.

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