Q: We are looking at replacing the floor covering in our family room. The room is in the lowest part of the house and chilly in the winter so we want to use a material that does not make it seem even colder.

The room is 12 feet by 15 feet. We currently have carpeting and a pad over hardwood tiles, on a concrete slab.

We also have a problem with a cat that urinates — the carpet and pad stink. Giving the cat away is not an option, so our choices must reflect his behavior.

When we remove the old carpet and pad, must we do some sort of special cleaning of the hardwood tiles to remove or seal in odor?

Also, I would like to use an environmentally friendly floor covering — without toxic fumes as much as possible — because we spend so much time in the room and because our main air intake for our furnace is in this room. And, we must plan for future cat urine.

My husband wants carpet — and heard about a plastic pad that can be put underneath to help control moisture and odor. I want no toxic fumes, and a floor able to withstand cat urine that’s easy to clean. Also, I want it to have a warm feel to my bare feet.

What do you recommend?

A: Our parents didn’t have an incontinent cat – they had three boys. Urine wasn’t a problem, but wear and tear on the flooring was.

Linoleum was the answer. This was before the vinyl products of today.

On rainy days when we couldn’t play baseball, we would practice our hook slides on the long kitchen floor. Our mom and dad even specified Linoleum in our bedroom, which they called the dorm — three beds, three desks, three chests of drawers and three closets.

We recommend a good quality vinyl floor covering to deal with your problem cat.

Carpet is out. Even with plastic pad, any carpet will get saturated and retain the odor.

The first thing you should do is get rid of the odor the cat has already left. So all of the existing flooring, including the hardwood floor tiles, must go. We’re certain the cat urine has permeated the wood and seeped between the cracks to the concrete below.

We’d suggest you contact a vet or a good pet store and ask about a product for odor removal. For our part, we’d would also propose a good washing of the concrete with a strong bleach solution once all the flooring is up and prior to installation of new floor covering.

If you decide to go with new vinyl flooring, use 12-foot-wide sheet goods with no seams. If your room is truly 12-by-15, the job should not require seams.

Ask the flooring contractor about VOCs (volatile organic compounds). It should not be a problem once the floor has been laid and the adhesive has dried.

Once you get his information, verify it by doing a Web search. Educate yourself and you’ll be miles ahead.

Finally, if you desire a warmer feeling than vinyl provides, use area rugs — ones that you can move and clean easily. Utility is the name of the game. If the cat has an accident on them, they can be removed and cleaned. Also, they are easier to replace than wall-to-wall floor covering of any type.


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