CHOOSING ECO FRIENDLY ZERO VOC WOOD FINISH
Over the course of time a wood floor will need to be loved, nourished
sealed and protected. There are durable floor finishes available that
will safeguard your indoor air quality while looking great in the process.
In North America, polyurethane varnish is used almost exclusively
as a wood floor finish, but floor oils are gaining in popularity. There
are many benefits to oiled floors, especially with softwood since it’s
prone to damage.
Environmental impacts and indoor air quality (IAQ)
Whatever floor finishes you choose, the products will have different
impacts on the health of your home and the planet. Like paints, floor
finishes contain varying levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds),
or if you’re a savvy, smart, consumer, none at all.
While the odor may be undetectable in days or weeks,
the effects won’t be. Polyurethane finishes will continue
to “gas off” or pollute the air in your home for 90-100 days, which
can be the cause or exacerbation of a myriad of health problems.
The production and disposal of these toxic chemicals have
a negative impact on the environment.
Water based vs oil based polyurethane varnish:
Gloss or Satin option
Non-flammable and non-combustible
Contains half the VOC’s of oil based
Product improvements have increased the durability
Soap and water cleanup
200 grams of VOC’S
If there’s a ‘pro’ to oil based varnishes, it is that they enhance
the color of woods and add more warmth to their overall tonal range.
Any negligible durability hardly seems worth making the compromise
to your health as well as the environment.
Downsides include longer drying times and about 450 grams of
VOC’S per can. Cleanup requires the use of solvents which
contributes to more production and disposal. Oil based varnish
is limited to a glossy finish.
Natural Oils (linseed or tung oil)
Natural oil finishes come from renewable resources, such as
flax seeds and tung tree nuts. Floor oils aren’t as durable
as polyurethane finishes are, but are much more natural looking
as they age, and are much easier to repair. Lacking the hardened
coating of a varnish, these floors are more prone to denting and
water damage. Whatever finish you choose it is pretty much a given
that a softwood floor will be vulnerable to wear and tear, Scuff marks
and dents on an oiled surface are far less offensive as those on varnish,
I’d still score a point here for oil. Most commercial brands contain
and release far less VOC’s than varnishes, so for both health and
environmental reasons, natural floor oil is the winner. Floors
finished with natural oil are aesthetically appealing and require
less maintenance. Rather than stripping the room of its’ furnishings and
then stripping the floor to prep for a reapplication of varnish, you simply
do a quick sanding of damaged areas and rub on a small amount of oil. As
for aesthetics, an oiled floor looks and feels so much more natural.
Huggins Wood Floor Specialists have been using eco conscious
zero VOC wood floor oil for the last decade. The health, beauty
and durability of your floors is what drives our company
and we want you to breathe easier. Since WOCA Denmark wood floor oil
is completely plant based it’s the greenest finish we have found. WOCA Denmark
is the safest floor finish, and Huggins Wood Floor Specialists preferred
choice. We know that baby steps, marathon building block sessions and
family fun nights are staged on your floors, and your toddler should be
the only VOC (volatile organic compound) gassing off in your home.
While WOCA Denmark may seem expensive when priced by the can,
but it’s offset for the simple reason that you only need
to do one coat. The oil bonds with the wood on a molecular
level and once it cures the surface will reject any additional
oil. WOCA Denmark comes in at around 30 cents per square foot
and by the time you purchase enough varnish for 3 coats
you will be well over 40 cents per square foot. Ultimately
this means less work and money for a great looking and easily
repairable non-toxic floor. Zero VOC flooring translates to a
great return on the overall health and safety of your most
A product called ‘Refresh’ can be applied to high traffic areas to
restore wear and tear. Refresh is a quick applying and quick drying
solution. Freshly exposed wood due to small dents can be
repaired with leftover oil. If time is an issue there is also an
accelerator that can be purchased which speeds
up the curing process.
Expect around 200 grams of VOC’s per can of water based poly,
compare that with a low VOC paint which will contain about 50
grams, or Zero VOC paint which will have….wait for it zip, nada
Both consumer demand and government regulations have led
to a heavy drop in the levels of VOC’s found in paints and floor
finishes. Flex your consumer awareness and ask lots of
questions when you shop.