What can I use for urine odor in pressed wood subfloor?

astrovelJune 23, 2009

I have to put down some vinyl flooring and have chosen Novalis vinyl planks so that I can do it myself. Can't afford wood laminate and it would be impractical with my 4 old dogs who are incontinent. The problem is my old ratty carpet has been tinkled on all over and when we find it, we try getting it up right away but I am worried that when we pull up the carpet to put down the vinyl that those puddles will have soaked into the sub floor. Is there anything I can mop it with to remove any residue of urine before I install the vinyl floor?

This is making me nervous about this potential problem. I am hoping that it is not that big of a deal once we get the carpet and pad up and out.

But I would appreciate any feedback from someone who has had this problem.


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Don't be nervous until you actually find out if there's a problem. :)

With any luck, the carpet pad will have absorbed the urine before it reached the subfloor. You're going to rip out the carpet pad anyway, right?

If you do find that the subfloor was soaked in urine at some point, here are the suggestions I've seen:

1) Put some Nature's miracle on it. I can attest to its effectiveness on fabrics, but I've never tried it on wood. Obviously you'll want to use enough so that the odor goes away, but not so much that the subfloor swells and warps from the moisture. Maybe use fans and a dehumidifier to speed the drying.

2) Bleach. I don't know if this would actually work, but search around and read about others who have tried it.

3) Killz. It's frequently used to "seal in" odors.

4) Polyurethane. Ditto.

5) Replace some portions of the subfloor. Not the easiest option, but probably the surest to get rid of the smell.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 9:48AM
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Thanks DIY Monger, I guess maybe I am worrying about it before I know if I really have a problem. I can hardly wait to get this awful carpet up. We are waiting on our home improvement loan to go through so I am stalled until that is finalized.
I am planning on using the Novalis vinyl planks and there is a primer that you are supposed to put down first so maybe that will seal it in, if there is any. I am hoping it will be OK.
I will keep in mind your suggestions though and will try them if I do run across the problem.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 2:04AM
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I just went through this. I did two rooms about 2-years ago. They both had only a little bit that got soaked into the wood subfloor (actually pressboard -- OSB). The carpets really really stunk -- especially when they came up and all the odors got out. The subfloor wasnÂt too bad though. I sealed the floor with Killz. I prefer the oil based paint for this (but this is my preference or bias -- donÂt know if there is a good reason to prefer this over water based paint).

I just (in the past few weeks) ripped up and other bedroom and a hallway. I had a litterbox in both and between the last owner's cats, the litterboxes and the cats getting old -- they sometimes preferred to hit the carper rather than the box. When I ripped up the carpet, the floor was really stained and stunk (kinda like a sweet but sour burnt wood smell -- with occasional puffs of strong urine in between). I thought about painting but tore up the subfloor (be careful) -- It was a lot of work but the right choice. I cut it out in pieces since it was glued, nailed and screwed. I could see that the messes had soaked 1/2-3/4 of the way through 3/4 inch OSB -- no way one is ever going tocover or seal that.

You should be prett much able to tell how bad it is once you pick up your carpet -- maybe wait a day or three after yu pull it up -- If the stains are thick and look wer even when dry -- you are probably as bad as mine.

Be careful pulling up the subfloor -- I only cur out wood between the joists -- if you are not careful, (like by the walls) you can end up putting in additional wood to nail the new floor down on. For the small room, this left about a foot of the old floor around the perimeter. Fortunately this wasn't too bad (my messes were more in the middle or near but not next to the walls. I sealed this with Killz. My whole house smells better (amazing what the one room did to the whole house)

Tools of choice -- Circular saw (adjusted to cut only to 3/4'' so I didn't cut beams, wires or central air vents), a few big standard screwdrivers and prybars -- to pull up the floor in sections, a dremel tool to clean off the glued remnants of wood left on the joists, gap filler (insulation) - since the floor was open I filled any cracks and put in more insulation. electric drill and screws to put the floor back down -- Then Mostly a lot of work -- but worth it.

Have Fun and let me know if there is anything else I can share (there was a lot more to this and I probably hit every thing that could go wrong).

Have Fun!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 6:16PM
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Thanks, Oysm. I appreciate your feedback. I doubt that we would be able to replace the subfloor as we are 75 yrs old and don't have the funds to hire it done. We will just have to find another solution..perhaps some de-skunk application or such???? before sealing it prior to installing the new floor. The bleach that DIY suggested might work also. Will keep searching around the net until we get ready to actually start. Hopefully next week, they tell me.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 2:02PM
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I just saw that my dogs have been peeing on the carpet. I'm going to take it up anyway, so I cut holes where it was wet and it was wet all the way down to the OSB. I poured some Hydrogen Peroxide on it because I don't have any Natures Miracle in the house, let it sit 5 minutes and then blotted it with a towel. Worked great. The carpet is coming out this weekend and then will get a coat of Kilz. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 3:58PM
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Make sure you use an oil-based primer/sealer. The water based type will not seal in odors. My painter uses Zinsser BIN - says it is the best for sealing in odors. I have used the Odorless Kilz to seal in cigarette odors. I'd recommend two coats of whatever you use.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 11:27PM
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Actually, Zinsser Bin is a shellac based primer, not oil, but it's still excellent for sealing odors. It dries fast because the solvent is alcohol.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 11:36AM
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Avanti Tile & Stone (Stonetech)

Had the same problem with cat urine...VERY prevelant in a rental house here in SE Texas. This was an old hardwood floor and we scrubbed it thoroughly with Pine Sol, rinsed well and then used a commercial enzyme treatment recommended by the local Animal Shelter. Smelled a bit like roses....dunno the name, though. As we are putting carpet in, we then used a penetrating sealer (two coats) and there is NO more smell.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:46PM
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Here's another vote for Zinsser Bin. Its not real pleasant to use - the alcohol solvent base can be pretty strong. But it does stick well to problem areas (pet urine can sometimes be oily) and is an excellent sealer.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 5:58AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. It prompts another question though, If I use Zinsser Bin to seal the odors, can I still use the Henry primer on top of that to put down my Novalis Vinyl Plank flooring? I have decided on using this product based on the wonderful postings on this site (Keyword Novalis) and all the great pictures etc posted. I need to make sure whatever I use for the urine smell will be compatible with the primer for the Novalis. Has anybody put vinyl down over Zinsser Bin?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 2:55PM
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You might go to www.planeturine.com as they seem to have a lot of information and products for this sort of problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Website

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 2:37PM
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Wow! Thank you SO much, Glenster...IF their testimonials are all correct, this sounds like the product to use. I didn't want to have to paint the floor with something like Kilz because then my primer for the peel and stick Novalis planks might not stick well. I am convinced that the Novalis is the way for us to go. But I sure didn't want to install it over a stinky sub floor. Thanks very much for your input.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 9:32AM
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I found this post while searching desperately for a way to avoid replacing the urine soaked subfloor we found under old carpet, and I'd like to share what I've discovered. The plywood subfloor was completely soaked by urine of the previous owners' cats and the horrific smell only got worse as we scrubbed with various Pine Sol type products. It was choking. After some research and friends' advice, we bought some "Simple Solutions" at Hollywood Feed (also available on Amazon) and used it liberally and full strength. The odor was 100% gone after just one application! Amazing stuff, I'd never have believed it possible. I hope someone else can benefit from my experience.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:30PM
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