What you need to know about the finish used on your hardwood floor
We periodically receive calls from distressed homeowners who have had their floors refinished by another company, and the house has such a toxic odor they cannot move back into their home. Just this week I talked to one homeowner who has waited a week after having their floors refinished, and still his wife is not able to tolerate the lingering odors. This family is considering refinishing again with products the wife can tolerate.
Here are four things you need to know about your hardwood floor refinishing project before it starts:
- How will the floor be sanded? (Specifically, will a wood filler be used? What is the final grit of abrasive that will be used on the wood before the finish is applied?)
- Will a sealer be used?
- How many coats of finish will be applied?
- What finish will be used?
The finishes we use at Day Flooring have low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). They are rated at or below the federal guidelines. VOCs include a variety of chemicals – some of which may have short and long term adverse health effects. There are also many products that have been around for years that do not meet these standards, but are still being used. The new products tend to cost more, which is probably one of the reasons the older products continue to be used. However, in most remodeling projects, the floor finish is one of the last things to be applied, and people are anxious to move back into their home. The low VOC products are very helpful in reaching that goal more quickly.
Keep in mind that all low VOC waterborne finishes are not the same. You can research the exact product to be used on your floor. The manufacturers give detailed information about their products on their websites. Most of the manufacturers have a range of products from Good to Better to Best that are priced accordingly. A typical gallon of waterborne finish ranges from about $50 a gallon to a high of around $125 per gallon at wholesale prices. With equal coverage (about 500 sq. ft. per gallon), the cost of the finish ranges from .10 to .25 per square foot, per coat.
Refinishing hardwood floors is a process. In order to be able to compare bids, you must have complete specifications for each part of the process. And to avoid toxic fumes, you must understand what type of finish is being used. When you know these things ahead of time, it minimizes the surprises at the end of the process.