I just had floors refinished (2 of 3 coats are done) and am disappointed refinishers used oil based poly. What can I do to rectify?

Asked by Bill Rietmann
San Francisco, CA

Floors are I believe oak; covered by carpets for 40 years. Should I start over, re-sand, or would that just throw fresh vocs/chemicals in air? I understand most curing happens in 2-4 weeks, but some out-gasing continues indefinitely (different sources seem to dispute this). Is there a way to encapsulate vocs? I'm also concerned about additional unncessary fire risk, which might be lessened by re-sanding and starting over with water based.


Jason Kliwinski

Answered by Jason Kliwinski

Lambertville, NJ

The Green Living and Building Center

May 10, 2013

Unfortunately, short of sanding it back down and refinishing there isn't much you can do other than to properly vent the space for a period of time to remove the VOCs as much as possible.

I don't recommend sanding the floors down as that will create a tremendous amount of dust with toxins in it and all of the waste from the sanding which is toxic as well. The product has an approved fire flame spread rating making it acceptable to use in homes already. Typically both voc free and stains of this kind have the same flame spread rating. The difference is in the toxicity of the smoke.

If you are truly concerned about the VOCs and smoke toxicity then you should remove the product and have it redone with a VOC free based finish like Vermont Natural Coatings.


For more information:

Read "When is it safe to live in our home? We had a company refinish ours wood floors. They used two coats of polyurethane." a Q&A answered by Joel Hirshberg.

Tagged In: hardwood floor refinishing

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