New hardwood floor questions

As noted elsewhere, I am re-doing a second floor apartment that a tenant just moved out of.
Unfortunately, the previous tenant had cats and there are cat urine stains everywhere on the existing old hardwood floors. There were rugs on top of the old hardwood floors, but the urine stains went through the rugs to the hardwood floors. So, barring some miracle way of getting rid of lots of cat urine stains and smell, it looks like I am going to have to rip up the existing old hardwood floors to get rid of the smell.
If I go that route, I want to put new 3/4-inch hardwood down -- not Pergo, laminate, vinyl, etc.
My questions are related to what type of hardwood to get.
I was thinking of maybe putting down pre-finished 3/4-inch hardwood -- such as Bruce prefinished hardwood. But, my concern about that is that the prefinished "colors" are apparently a stain and finish -- so if the floor gets scratched or damaged in the future (hopefully not by cat urine), I would need to sand out the damaged area and then have to figure out how to match the stain so the color would match. Instead, I was wondering if there is some particular type of finished or unfinished hardwood floor that would look good with just a clear polyurethane finish. That way, to repair any damage, I could sand it out and apply a clear finish again and hopefully that would match the original finish.
If I go with that approach, is there any particular type of hardwood flooring that I should consider getting -- oak, maple, something else? -- either finished or unfinished?
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Unstained oak or maple would be a good choice, if you're set on hardwood. It would naturally be quite light (color). Another alternative would be bamboo. It's cheap and, IMO, the horizontal stuff looks pretty good. Spending a ton of money on a rental doesn't sound like a winner.
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wrote:

I'll have to check that out. I did buy a medium grade unstained red oak once in the past and I didn't like the way it looked with clear polyurethane on it. But, in general, I like the look and color of maple furniture -- so maybe I'll have to see if I can find out more about what unstained maple would look like. Thanks.

I don't know, but I have heard that bamboo is not really a hard hardwood -- meaning it damages fairly easily.

I agree that it is more money to put down new hardwood, and most people don't do that for a rental. But tenants do like hardwood floors (at least in our area), and I think about how it looks good and that lasts much longer than carpet. The floor area that I would be covering is about 440 square feet.
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Most "maple" furniture is stained. Natural maple is pretty light.

Sorry, the *vertical* looks good. I don't like the horizontal nearly as much.

Well, it's not hardwood at all. ;-) It depends on the bamboo. I put vertical, medium carbonized, in my previous house. It was great. This house has horizontal, light carbonized, and I don't like it at all. Unlike the first bamboo I put in, this is quite soft. Note that hardwood isn't all that "hard" either. I'd *never* put it in a rental.

That's not a lot of area. Unless this is a really high-end unit, I still don't think it's very smart. OTOH, I found bamboo was about the same price as decent vinyl, installed. It looks a *lot* better, too.
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You may be able sand and refinish the entire room and once sealed there should be no odor. Whatever you do- dont allow pets. They will have accidents. Or at least get extra security from them

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On 9/9/2011 3:35 PM, Big Jim wrote:

Assuming the floor is in good condition other than the stains that's what I would at least try first. A dark stain might be able to help hide some of the residual stains.
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You both may be right about that, and that is still a possibility. We are doing most of the rest of the apartment first and then will deal with the floor issue. I belong to two real estate investor groups, each of which has a fairly active online discussion forum. Over the past few years, people have posted over and over about how to deal with cat urine problems and smell. Most have said that if the cat urine gets down into the hardwood flooring, the only way to ever really get rid of the smell is to rip out the old flooring and put down a new floor. Some even say that it may also require replacing the subfloor, but I have doubts about whether that would be true. Others have said that using enzymes designed for use with cat urine (such as Nature's Miracle), possibly sanding the floor, and re-sealing it may work. So, I don't really know yet what the final answer will be. I did already buy 2 gallons of Nature's Miracle and may try that initially.
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RogerT wrote:

Before you go to the expense (but for anyone who spends $5,000 on a floor for a rental unit is probably not concerned with expense), try renting an ozone generator. A powerful one.
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I did think about renting an ozone generator, but there are two reasons why I probably won't end up doing that.
One is that the apartment below this one is occupied. And, my understanding is that ozone generators need to run for a few days to work, but that the ozone is hazardous to people -- so the place has to be empty while the ozone generator is on. Even though this is a separate apartment, I think the ozone generator operating in the floor above could present a risk to the occupants of the apartment below.
And, the second reason is that from what I understand about cat urine smells, the problem is not just one of removing the existing odor. The problem is that the residual cat urine is a bacteria (or something like that) that regrows in humid weather and produces more odor. So, unless the ozone generator kills and removes the bacteria(?), the odor will return.
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RogerT wrote:

Ozone decomposes into oxygen. The half-life of ozone is about 72 hours.
You've got to ask yourself which is more important: the health and safety of your renters or saving a lot of money.
Let me think...

Ozone kills bacteria, mold, fungus, termites, and bad TV programs.
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I would swab the floor with pure bleach, let it sit for several minutes and then swab it off as much as possible. Do this with a good exhaust fan running. Once the wood has dried, see how the smell is doing. You could cover the present floor with a couple of layers of plastic film, and then put carpeting over that. It might be much faster, much cheaper and much easier than replacing the whole floor.
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wrote:

I don't know about cat piss, but I had dog piss stains on an oak floor. Same deal, through carpeting. Had the floors sanded and the stains were gone. Seems if the stains are gone the smell would be too, since the floors gets sealed with varnish after the sanding. My previous house stunk of cats when we bought it, but after painting the smell was gone. Floors were okay though. You probably want to test sanding first before you replace the floors.
--Vic
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I'd try sanding the existing floors first. Go deep enough and the odor may be gone. If that does not work, I'd put a pre-finished engineered wood down. It will have a very durable finish and if the tenants screw it up, you can tear it out and replace it as reasonable cost. For a rental, now way would I spend a lot of money just to have it trashed.
Visit your local floor covering dealer. You can run into some great buys for pretty good looking flooring at times. Discontinued, special buys, etc.
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I can't figure if you are going to try any sanding. My suggestion would apply several coats or washings of mild soapy water with at least two tablespoons of oxiclean per gallon. Let each wash completely dry before next. Ventilate or dehumidify process. Oxiclean will try to change color of wood like a bleach. When I sanded a floor, and treated decomposed foam stains with oxiclean, it worked well. When I put on the coats of polyurethane, the floor started looking dark and ugly. After a day or two it cleared up, light and nice. Not sure what the reaction was.
Greg
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Regardless, the old floor would still need a sealer coat of varnish.
Greg
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