Thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions about the floors! We are definitely making progress. After whipping up a floor plan for the row house (One of us is an architect. Hint: it is not me), we had a flooring professional come give us a bid and some advice.
Daryl Dion (of A Dion and Sons Floor Service) came out to the row house to take a look at the newly exposed pine/fir flooring. One of us (Hint: it is still not me) has worked with Mr. Dion before.
-Will the cat urine stains come out?
-Should we refinish the closet floors (we have four closets) or leave them as is?
-How do we get the warmth of oil-based polyurethane without the toxic VOCs?
-What can be done about the 1/4 inch gaps between the floorboards on the upstairs landing? You can't see from the photo below, but trust me: the gaps are wide and deep enough that if we ever can't find the dog, I will look between the floorboards.
We asked Mr. Dion if we should put rope or wood putty in the floorboard gaps. His answer? There is nothing we can do, short - of course- of installing new floors or spending a lot of money nailing down the ones we have. Um......no.
He believes most of the cat urine stains will come out with sanding. If they don't, we might patch the stained areas using salvage wood from the bathroom or kitchen.
He'll apply one coat of oil-based sanding sealer to bring out the warmth of the wood. Then, he'll top the sanding sealer with three coats of satin finish water-based polyurethane. I think they do a light sanding between coats of the water-based poly. The painted floors (remember, we're painting the kitchen and bathroom floors) will be sanded and sealed with oil-based paint primer. Since it's just two rooms, I think I can deal with the stink without throwing one.
Mr. Dion recommended that we sand the closets because it doesn't add that much to the bottom line while providing a continuous seal to the wood.
Mr. Dion will start the floors later this week or early next week and it will take five to seven days. Cool! Next, we have to decide what colors to paint the kitchen and bathroom floors. My white/off-white idea was vetoed by one of us (Hint: it was not me.) So now we're looking at colors.