Stripping polyurethane varnished wooden floor

13 Aug 2012
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Tyne and Wear
United Kingdom
4 years ago, when I moved into my house, I paid a local firm to sand and lacquer the floors in my living and dining rooms in polyurethane.

The company in question didn't bother to point out the (previously invisible under grime) staining on many of the floorboards in the dining room caused, apparently, by a previous owner's dog's urine. By lacquering, they managed to seal in these large ugly dark patches, and the uric acid in the dog urine caused the lacquer to take on a "milkiness" in the areas above the staining.

I also regret using Polyurethane. Yes, it's durable. But when it chips, it looks terrible, and when you have young children dropping things on it, it chips a lot. I think it would have been better to have opted for an oil-based finish; yes, it's less durable, but when it scratches it can be spot-repaired, unlike poly. I also much prefer the look of an oil finish.

So, I would now like to do the following in the dining room:

- Completely strip back the polyurethane in order to start again, using a non-toxic stripper (3M's Safest Stripper is a likely candidate). I know this will take longer than using a harsher stripper, but it will be impossible for me to prevent fumes entering other areas of our small house if I use something like that, and I don't want my two-year-old to breathe it in;
- Remove the urine stain using hydrogen peroxide;
- Sand back and prep the floor;
- Relacquer, this time using something like Danish or Osmo oil.

If the above goes well, I'd then strip back our living room and repeat the process, this time omitting the urine part.

Just wondering if any of you experienced DIY-ers have any tips/thoughts on the above?
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I think the shop bought hydrogen peroxide sold in the UK is now limited to a 6% strength, I don't think this will be strong enough to remove urine stains from hardwood floors. Bog standard chlorine bleach or oxalic acid should remove urine stains from hardwood.

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