It’s important not to leave your precious hardwood floors bare and unprotected. Just as it is vital to have to a roof over our heads, it is important to have the right protective finish on hardwood floors. Before buying any finish, Floor encourages you to do your research. Think twice about finishes, read labels, and find out the differences between floor finishes.
Today’s choices for finish have become innumerable and more refined. Not only are there more beautiful varieties, but now consideration is being given to the health, safety, and well-being of families when it comes to those chemical finishes. In past generations, little thought was given to the effect chemical emissions would have on individuals and their families. As everyone is now more enlightened to the negative effects of certain chemicals on our health, many manufacturers have made positive changes to the way they make certain products to lessen and prevent harmful toxins from entering our bodies. Some finishing toxins are very hazardous before the curing stage so those applying these types of finishes must wear proper safety gear when applying them to timber floors.
Over time, some finishes emit what are called VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are organic chemicals that vaporize into the air at low temperatures like room temperature and these vaporizations occur over time. There are naturally-occurring VOCs which are not toxic. Plants gradually emit them as well. Most floor finishes have them but not the ton-toxic kind. So choose wisely and read your labels.
There are now many low-VOC floor finishes available. These low-VOC products are much better for the environment and for you, your family, and your pets. To qualify to have low-VOC ratings on their label, their products must only contain 200 g/L or less of VOC. Hardwood stains are not the only chemical products that emit VOCs. If you do some digging online, you will find a range of even many household products and plastic clothing that can even have harmful VOCs like your summer plastic sandals, air fresheners, carpets, plastic furniture, paints, and household cleaners, etc. Products that emit high concentrations of harmful VOCs have been proven to make people suffer a number of health problems including allergy symptoms, headaches, and damage to the nervous system.
Some companies even claim to have zero-VOC finishes. To qualify for this claim, their products must contain as little as 5 g/L of VOC.
All hope is not lost when it comes to beautiful flooring though. Advances in technology have made it possible to have many very low VOC to zero VOC-rated floors. These deliver the same quality and durability of floors that have high VOC content. Some products that have those low VOC ratings are even boasted to be better in that they only need to be applied fewer times than the higher VOC finishes. These lower VOC products include natural Oil, so you avoid solvent toxins and smells. They dry so fast after application that you can use the floors sooner than the solvent based finished floors. Not only that, these low-VOC finishes really enhance the look of natural wood. So if you like to show off the beautiful grains in your timber while being environmentally friendly, choose these Natural Oil and low-VOC finishes.