Most wood finishes are solvent-based (which generally means a petroleum product) and thus do have the capacity to offgas potentially unhealthy fumes as well as VOCs.
- For this reason, we always recommend a water-based wood finish for our clients in order to avoid any indoor air quality issues.
- As with most products, the tradeoff that you face with solvent vs. water-based finishes is in performance and application.
One of the most important qualities that we look for in materials for our projects is their lifespan and need for maintenance, which to us is a very important "green" criteria. This is why we look for finishes that are not only healthy for the occupants and safe for the environment, but have long lifespans and require little maintenance.
Luckily there is a perfect product on the market that accomplishes both the health and longevity goals that we look for; it is called Bona Traffic.
- This is a commercial product used in high-traffic public places like museums, so its durability is incredible.
- It is a two-component waterborne finish which is very low-VOC and comes in satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes so you can get just the look that you want.
- It is more expensive and takes a little longer to apply, but if it is applied properly, its life can be longer than your occupancy in the home, which means no need for refinishing or ongoing maintenance -- well worth the extra initial expense.
For more information on indoor air quality in your home, visit our blog at http://myearthboundhome.wordpress.com/.
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Also, check Martine Paquin's Q&A "For a baby nursery, is refinishing the hardwood floor better than installing new carpet?"