Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Saving our floors?

Major Projects

The day that we moved into our house, we took out nearly all of the rugs covering the downstairs floors. Not because they were ugly (which they most certainly were) but because they REEKED of cat urine. Not something you want to come home to after a long day at work.

Luckily, the floors underneath are hardwood. BUT – they desperately need to be refinished, and some spots need to be replaced. That day is a long way off though, as it’ll come after the basement jacking, wall repair, ceiling painting, etc. In the meantime, we’re starting to worry that we’re damaging them further. Any varnish that may have been applied to them has been worn off. To look at them, you’d assume they are unfinished except for a spot here or there that still has little bit of shine to it.

Here’s what they look like:


(Can anyone tell me when it was cool to sloppily drip paint all over your hardwoods? Whoever started this trend should be severely beaten with a paint stick.)

Any suggestions on how to protect them, other than rugs? Our dogs like to pee on rugs, so I’m trying to stay away from that solution!

Here’s an informative article on removing stains from wood, if you’re dealing with a problem spot:

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Kasmira had this to say on 02.11.05:

Useful link. Especially the information on removing blood stains…

jenne had this to say on 02.11.05:

The first thing we did was rip out our old carpet. But we should have kept it in until we finished all the other projects. We put in a new drywall ceiling and used big wooden “T” s to hold it up while we fastened it in place..those left nasty marks.
Then we redid the ceiling in the dining room, and we had tons of plaster fall on the floor, in huge piles, AFTER we refinished the floor. Asyou can guess, it doesn’t look so great anymore. :(

Also, I don’t know why, but the varnish/poly stuff is bubbling up in some places, expecially near the heating vents. We have to fix that somehow.
And then my husband dripped expanding foam on the newly refinished floor also. [which I consider to be worse than dripping paint. That stuff eats through the finish, and looks like a huge pile of mucus, and won’t completely come off at all…grrrr]
I don’t really know the point of my ramblings here. My floors were gorgeous for about a week after we redid them. Now I see scratches and I freak. But what can I do? Throw my husband out in the street? Buy rubber furniture? Not let my parent’s dog come visit? [Jinx, btw, had not 1, but _3_ accidents in my house in the course of 5 minutes. What is it about my house?!?!]

I’ll be interested in seeing what others suggest. Because right now, nothin’ is workin’ at my place!

Alex had this to say on 02.11.05:

Oooooh, pretty, looks like some nice quartersawn red oak flooring. Oak floor is good and hard, not like pine, so even dropping tools, sloppy paint, and whatever else, can pretty easily be corrected with a simple sand and stain. Just after we bought our house, in teh 3 weeks between change of ownership and moving in, the floors in the entire main part of the house were refinished. Same as you, we had at least one part of each room that had to be removed and replaced. After being talked out of doing it ourselves, we had a great contractor come in and take it on. Now, I think I can do it without a problem, but then, it was a good choice.

Since then I have talked with them about how to protect rooms I am working in. They said the following:
1. Canvas, good for general work, keeps dirt up
2. Cardboard, good for heavier work, might want to lay some plastic down first too
3. Biggest work, go get kids multicolor snap together flooring. It is basically thick foam rubber and will stop “even a partially spining drill or saw”

I know I’ve seen tham at places like Toys R Us.

Kristin had this to say on 02.11.05:

In our former house (a 1967 ranch), we had the same issue with funky carpet and paint-splattered floors underneath. Ugh. How I cursed whoever painted so carelessly!

We ended up not having to refinish our floors at all, except in the dining room where a wall had been removed. We used Goof Off and elbow grease to get the paint dots off. Darwin’s dad lays flooring for a living, so he had a sander we used to sand the floors lightly. Then we waxed. The floors looked amazing after that, and they seriously looked very similar to yours at first, minus the stains.

I bet a coat or two of wax would protect them (and shine them up) enough for now.

em had this to say on 02.13.05:

During the 2 months our house was really torn up, we kept the floors covered with big paint tarps we bought at Home Depot. They were the really heavy duty fabric kind and worked well through the replastering, painting and other stuff. Our floors aren’t in the greatest condition either, but it helped keep them from getting worse.

Carol had this to say on 02.13.05:

They are oak, right? I think they have already been through more than you could do to them if you tried- they need so much sanding I doubt you will hurt them any further! The thing that DOESN’T sand out is deep water and pee stains. I would just put down what will not attract your pet’s attention but also something you can be comfortable with in the interim- what about cheap natural fiber rugs from Pier I or World Market? You can maybe give them a second life as porch rugs later and pets don’t seem to think they a normal rugs.

The Old Man had this to say on 02.13.05:

Wow. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like you’ve got some beautiful oak floors there!

If the finish/paint drippings/whatever is still present, I wouldn’t worry too much, but if you have spots where the finish is totally worn away and you’ve got raw wood, I’d worry-just a little bit, tho. I’d probably just throw a coat of polyurethane over any parts that have no finish at all, just to protect the wood from any spills. When you have your floors sanded and refinished, they’re going to take the top layer of wood off anyway.

Mind you, I’m no expert–just a guy who had his floors refinished recently. You’d probably do well to touch base with some floor refinishers to see what they’d recommend as a stop-gap solution.

Gary had this to say on 02.14.05:

If that is shellac on the floor you don’t need to sand them. You will need some coarse steel wool, about 4 gallons of denatured alcohol and several empty containers to pour the alcohol in. Oh, and many rags and some latex gloves would be nice.
Dip steel wool in the alcohol and start rubbing the floor. The shellac will break down and re-amalgomate. The paint will come off too. Wipe up the goo with your rags. When done, allow the floor to dry (about 1 hr.) and sand with a palm sander and some 100 grit then some 220 grit paper.
Put some fresh shellac on the floor sanding lightly between coats (at least 3 coats) and if you want you can put some thinned down polyurethane over the shellac. This will take about two days but the nice thing about shellac is that you can easily pick up where you left off should you tire of the process!

Mary had this to say on 02.14.05:

Hi there, I have no idea what to do about floors, but just wanted to tell you I’m having a blast reading your adventures. We’re about to embark on our own with an 1850’s farmhouse, so a totally different style obviously, but probably just as much fun. :)

mindy had this to say on 02.14.05:

What great advice – and lots of it! I’ll have to test to see if it’s shellac.

Jenne – My parents’ old dining room floor had the bubbling thing going on….. don’t remember why, I will ask when I talk to them. They didn’t do the floors, the PO’s did, but I think I remember my father talking about the cause.

From the sounds of it, I don’t have to be too worried – we do have raw wood in spots, but as Carol said, our day-to-day use probably won’t do much more harm since we’re already going to have to do some serious sanding. I think investing in some canvas tarps would be worthwhile for the days that we’re in and out of our basement (dirt/clay floor). Might save me a few mopheads too!

Thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions. I knew you guys would be able to help!


Graham had this to say on 02.14.05:

Just found your site, cool. We are going through the same sort of stuff. If you do decide to sand the floors make sure all of the staples used on the old carpet are gone!! One question did you have to make a lot of holes in the walls for the re-wiring. We are going to start ours soon.

mindy had this to say on 02.14.05:

Graham –

As you’ll see in my most recent entries, we’ve had to put quite a few holes in the walls. So far, they’ve been fairly easy to fix, though. Good luck!


martin had this to say on 11.09.05:

If you still have the odor problem, checkout for advise that will actually help fix your problem…even if you have sanded and finished the flooring.

It will not be easy but you have a difficult problem to fix.

ashley had this to say on 02.28.06:

Hi my name is Ashley. And i herd about your house from my tech teacher. I think it is really cool that you are fixing up this old house.

We love to hear from you, dear readers.

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