A Not Quite Fix for My Poor Hardwood Floors
August 25, 2009 2:30 PM Subscribe
How can I limit damage to my virtually-unfinished hardwood floors without the trouble/expense of refinishing?
posted by aabbbiee to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have an 1800 sq foot ranch-style home built in 1994 (in Missouri, USA). All of the flooring is hardwood, with the exception of a small utility room and the two bathrooms. This is a slab home, and the wood is directly on top of the concrete. I cannot be very specific about the type of wood it is- possibly oak? It's very standard early-90s suburban house wood flooring.
When I bought this house in 2006 (at the top of the market, of course), the floors were not in great shape. I didn't care because I own a dog and do not want to live a lifestyle where I have to place a lot of emphasis on keeping my floors scratch-free. My house is not worth what I paid for it, and I've had to put some very expensive work into it (roof, foundation repairs, new a/c, just to start). This is not a house I wanted to own forever. I will likely sell or rent the place out in 5 years.
In addition, refinishing of any part of the house would require refinishing of all the floors of the house, because the wood flows through all the rooms. I have had a casual estimate of $4000 to refinish the floors of the house. This is not chump change for me, and that new a/c unit was installed just two weeks ago, so I am not exactly rolling in it right now.
Until this past weekend, I didn't worry too much about the floors, but they were not in great shape. I cleaned them regularly by sweeping or vacuuming. Maybe once a year I tried to clean them with Murphy's Oil, whereupon it became obvious that they had almost no finish left. The water soaked in and there was a smell of wet wood.
This past weekend, I had the excitement of coming home to find that a washing machine hose had burst (the washing machine was not even in use at the time) and flooded about a third of the house with an inch of water in just forty-five minutes. (Fantastic entertainment for a Saturday night!)
After the immediate cleanup, I am happy to see that there was very little long-term damage to my house. The floorboards have dried out without buckling. We've had very low humidity this week (totally unusual for Missouri in summer) but the new a/c has been very helpful, and I think I removed the water fast enough that there may not be mold damage. Furniture and other possessions were largely untouched. Rugs are all cotton and can be washed. I was remarkably fortunate.
The only thing that was ruined was [whatever was left of] the finish of the hardwood in that part of the house. In the living room, I can see where the water was and where it stopped. It's not a bad stain and it would likely come out with sanding, but the floors are clearly in even worse shape than they were. Refinishing them would fix them perfectly, I'm sure.
I don't want to refinish. See paragraph #2.
What can I do with these floors? My priority is to decrease the amount of damage that my dog and I could incur if we live on pretty-much-unfinished wood floors. Making them pretty is not really my priority. I just want to limit the damage. (I can't put rugs everywhere.)
Google lists different products on the market that swear they will help me, but I don't know enough to tell the useless & destructive from the magic miracle tonic.
Things that involve sanding seem to be a little beyond my comfort zone as far as things I can do myself (and I don't want to hire someone else).
What options beyond refinishing do I have? How should I be cleaning this floor?