It can be quite disappointing when you move into a new home and eagerly tear up the carpet to see the beautiful hardwood underneath, only to find that past owners have allowed their pets to urinate all over the floor. Does this mean the floor is done? Can it be repaired? What will this cost? Hopefully this blog will answer some of those questions.
How can you tell it’s a pet stain and not water damage from a plant or spill? The easiest (but most unpleasant) way to tell is from the smell. Pet stains leave a distinct odor that, if you are unfamiliar with, you are better off not knowing. Unless the stains are very old, or not deep into the wood, they will likely stink when you pull up the carpet. Another way to tell is by the color of the stain. Water damage leaves a grayish stain, but pet stains leave a blackish green color. If the stains are real heavy, this color will really stand out. Finally, worst case scenario, you will be able to tell if the stain is still wet. Pet stains take a long time to dry out under carpet, so if the last owners of the home are the culprit, there is a good chance the pet stains are going to be fresh and wet…lucky you! The good news is this can be dealt with, and your floors can be salvaged. You will likely have a few options. The one that is right for you will depend on your budget, color preference for the floor, and the extent of the stains.
It is common for pet stains to penetrate deep into the wood. This is because pets like to urinate in the same area time and time again. So, if the past owners of the house made a habit of not letting their pets outside, the pets likely went in the same areas many times.
Here are your options:
Option 1: Replace the stained boards with new wood. This is usually the best option because you are removing the stain completely. This will allow you to choose any color for the floor and will completely remove the smell from the floor. However, this is often the more expensive option if there are many pet stained areas. If there are only a few areas, repairing can be less expensive than Option 2. For a 1 1/2″ strip floor, repairing a 2’x3′ area would be around $200 -$350, depending on whether its a double weave (weave both ends of the repair into the existing floor) in or single weave in (weave one side into the existing because the other side is a wall). If the floor is 2 1/4″ width, the cost will be lower. And, if there are several areas, the cost will be lower per stained area. If you want to know more about repairing, you can check our our Photo Gallery for Repairs.
Option 2: Stain the floor a dark color. This can be a less expensive solution if the floor has pet stains throughout. For some reason, pet stains don’t “cover” as well as water damage, so if you choose this option, you will need to stain the floor relatively dark. DuraSeal Jacobean, Ebony, and True Black are three stain colors that often do the trick. Staining the floor adds about $1.15/sq ft to the project, so you will have to weigh the cost of staining vs repairing to know if this is the right choice. If you don’t want to have a dark floor, then you are going to need choose from the other two options.
Option 3: Leave it and call it character, or cover it with furniture or a rug. This is our least favorite option because we want our work to look spectacular when finished, and leaving stains can create a very noticeable eye sore in the floor. However, we do understand that this option is the most budget friendly, and, if the pet stain is light or in an inconspicuous area, this can be a successful solution.