How to Refinish Hardwood Floors Damaged by Animal Urine or Bleach

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Pet urine, bleach and other corrosive materials can ruin the finish on a wood floor. If the liquid sits there so long that the wood is rotting out, you'll need to replace some or all of the floor itself. In most cases, though, what's actually damaged is the floor finish--the top layer of gloss, and the wood stain below that--which means you'll have to refinish it. Getting one section of a refinished floor to match the rest is virtually impossible, so plan on stripping and refinishing the whole floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Rented drum sander
  • Multiple grades of sandpaper for the sander (30-grit, 80-grit, 120-grit)
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Oil-based wood stain
  • Brushes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Oil-based floor-grade polyurethane gloss
  • Lambswool floor gloss applicator
  • Hand-held oribital sander
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Set up your drum sander with the heaviest grit of sandpaper (30 grit). Start in one corner, moving the sander back and forth along the grain of the wood. It should take off most of the top gloss layer, and then dig into the wood stain below.

  • When you've sanded the whole floor, vacuum up the dust and switch to the next finer grade of sandpaper. As you're sanding, pay special attention to the damaged area, going over it repeatedly to get out any discoloration, and make it look the same as the surrounding wood. Continue until the whole floor is bare, smooth and free of visible discoloration at the damaged area.

  • After sanding, spread a thick layer of dry baking soda over the area that was damaged. Do this even if the sanding has completely removed all discoloration as there still may be odors deep in the wood. Let the baking soda sit on the surface overnight, and then vacuum it up.

  • Stain the floor starting in the furthest corner from the door. Put on your rubber gloves, open and stir the stain and spread it down in sections with your brush. Spread it heavily, so it pools on the wood. Let it sit on the wood for a minute, and then wipe up the excess stain with paper towels. Continue over the whole floor. Let it dry overnight.

  • Open your polyurethane gloss. Don't shake it, but gently stir it. Starting in the same corner as before, pour down a line of gloss as long as the pad on your lambswool applicator. Set the applicator into the gloss and slowly pull it across the surface, going with the direction of the floorboards. Finish the whole floor, moving slowly to prevent bubbles. Let it dry overnight.

  • Use your hand sander and 220-grit (very fine) sandpaper to lightly sand the first coat of polyurethane. Just buff the shine off the surface. Vacuum up the dust, and then apply a second coat in the same manner as the first. Buff out the shine the next day, and then apply a third and final coat. Let it set for two days before using the floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ventilate the room when applying your stain and polyurethane.

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