Several readers and I were all wondering why someone would cover beautiful hardwoods with any other type of flooring. Well, we may have an answer (at least in this particular case)!
Jeff and I worked several more hours at the farmhouse and got a good rhythm going on the underlayment removal. Jeff is quite swift at enticing those little rusty nails out of the floor around the perimeter, and then I can wedge a flooring scraper underneath and pry up, popping nailheads free as I go. With this method, we got a much larger area of the floors revealed.
Our first surprise was that the floors had been stripped, almost as if in the processes of being refinished. But there was no stain or protective coat. Then, we discovered a patch of aluminum foil taped to the heart pine floor. What could that possibly be doing there? As we removed more underlayment and more foil, we found this...
We have the following theory: something badly stained the original floor; the owners decided to refinish the floors in the dining room in hopes of removing the damage. When it became evident that it was still quite visible, they felt the need for new flooring. To keep the stain from penetrating or wicking up through the new floor, they sealed it with aluminum foil (of all things)! If we can determine the staining culprit, it is possible we can neutralize and bleach the wood back to its original color, or at least disguise it.
There is one living elderly member of the family who grew up in the house. I'm hoping to find out from him what this dark menace could be and take steps to tame it!