Home Improvement

Ask the Remodeler: Filling the gaps in your wood floors

Plus, how to get rid of lingering odors in wood. Send your home improvement questions to [email protected]

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Q. Some of the yellow pine floor boards in my third-floor condo (probably built around 1900) have large gaps between them that collect dust and cat hair. They are unsightly, and I think they may be serving as a breeding ground for moths. Can I fill these cracks with something, and, if so, what? Should I hire someone to do it?

L.R., Jamaica Plain

A. Unfortunately, there is no really easy fix to this. We come across it periodically, and the method we use is to infill the gaps with ripped-down strips of the same wood. There are no wood putties that will hold; they will crack in a fairly short period of time. This is fussy work best left to a hardwood floor installer.


Q. I live in an old home built in the early 1900s with lots of wood paneling. There was a tenant in the in-law apartment who had three cats and two dogs. They moved out three years ago, but the litter box smell lingers. What products can I wash the wood walls and flooring with that will remove the odor?


A. I am going to guess that these smells are pretty well embedded in the fabric of the apartment. I don’t think there are too many surface cleaners that will really remove the smell. We have done fire restorations in which the smell of smoke was impregnated into the floors, walls, cabinetry, etc. The company we hire for that type of work uses an ozone machine that when left on for a certain number of days (the space needs to be sealed off), it will pull those embedded odors out of the apartment.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Boston.com/realestate. Follow us on Twitter @globehomes.



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