LESLIE: Next up, we have a call from Laura in New Jersey who has a cleaning question.
Laura, how can we help?
LAURA: Hello, I have a few spots on my hardwood floors stained from cat urine.
LESLIE: The naughty animals.
LAURA: No, no. He thinks he’s in the box but his little rear end hangs over the edge. (Tom and Leslie laugh) The urine seeped down underneath the box and stained the floor.
LAURA: And I was wondering how can I clean that and get the dark stain up or do I have to refinish it. I have refinished floors before in the past.
TOM: The floor that you have right now, is the floor finished with a natural color?
TOM: Well you’re going to have to sand it out. What happens is the urine is acidic, so it definitely reacts with the wood and changes the color; usually making it lighter, although sometimes it could make it darker. But there’s going to be no way to remove it or clean it as if it was …
LESLIE: Because it’s actually changed the wood.
TOM: Yeah, it’s actually changed the wood. So you have to sand through that surface of the wood to get some fresh wood and that’s the only way you’re going to be able to straighten it out.
Now whether or not you can do that in just one small area is going to really depend on how it looks when you start getting into that. You no doubt will have a difference in color. And it’s OK, Laura, if when you start to sand that particular area, the floor gets very, very bright because you’re also sanding away all the oxidation that forms on the surface. But you will find that, over time, the tone will tone down a little bit and match more of the other floor. So if you want to try just doing that area, you’ll probably be OK. It’ll look more obvious, like a patch, for the first couple of months but then, as the sunlight gets to it, it’ll start to darken.
LESLIE: And get a larger litter box.
LAURA: (chuckling) Yeah.
TOM: Or teach that cat some manners.
LAURA: One of the rooms is stained; the floor is stained like a honey color.
LAURA: So once I sand it down, can I put a stain on that; like a …?
TOM: OK, but you’ve got to be down to the raw wood to do that.
LAURA: Alright, then. OK. And then I can polyurethane it afterward?
TOM: Right on top of that. Yeah. And use oil-based polyurethane; it’s a lot tougher than the water-based stuff.
Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And train that cat, will ya?