If you hate polyurethane, consider a non-toxic lower VOC option.

Living through the coating stage of floor refinishing is a challenge.

But what most people remember as the very worst part is the SMELL.

Even if you’re not deliberately searching out floor finishes that are good for the planet, you are probably hoping to find one that doesn’t stink you out of your house.

So many customers hesitate to get their floors redone because they think they have to move out during the procedure. And in the past, this was true.

But the hardwood flooring industry has been developing more environmentally responsible floor finishes, and the happy side effect of this research is a new generation of products that can be coated year-round, without forcing occupants out of their houses.

Pete’s sells and recommends several of these products, which fall into two main types:

Zero VOC (volatile organic compound) penetrating floor finishes.

These work because of the tendency for naturally occurring oils like linseed, tung, or soybean, to form a solid, protective surface just by being exposed to oxygen.

No solvents needed, so no petrochemicals needed. We carry two brands in this category: Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C and Pallmann Magic Oil.

Lower VOC floor finishes that replace the petroleum-derived solvents in traditional polyurethane or varnish-style finishes with less toxic alternatives.

The PolyWhey line from Vermont Natural Coatings is our preferred product in this category.

You can go straight to those product pages if you like, but we recommend you nerd out a little and read our blog posts on each of these options. Non-toxic zero VOC finishes have improved enormously over the past twenty years. But there are pros and cons for each of these products that you should be aware of before you dive in.

Look, we had our doubts about protecting floors without using polyurethane.

We tested all the products we’re about to recommend, and we tested them hard.

We expected most of them to fail miserably. But they didn’t.

And we now carry three different brands of penetrating finish and they now make up over half of all the finish we sell.

Penetrating finishes are not categorically better than polyurethane, but they do solve some of the inherent problems of that type of finish.

These are the three products that have passed our tests.

We love them equally, but for different reasons. Like you do your children. Read more about them.

Pete’s Bonus Tips

Can of Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C

Buy your Rubio from Pete’s.

Even if you live outside the Twin Cities, we would love to sell Rubio to you.

But you may have have already noticed that we don’t sell Rubio on our online shop. We aren’t trying to be difficult; Rubio is an unconventional finish and we like to be able to talk people through their project before they buy so they know what they’re getting into.

We’ve had a few, “You never told me…” moments with customers and we know that a little bit of education goes a long way to preventing confusion.

So, just call us at 651-698-5888 and we’ll chat about your project. Store hours

If you live in Minneapolis /St. Paul area, come to our shop at 186 Fairview Ave. N in St. Paul, MN to take a look at our sample wall and chat with us about your project.

We’ve got 46 colors of Rubio sampled on four different species of wood, hopefully to give you an idea of how Rubio will look on your particular project.

We also have some great examples of how the Fumed and Smoke pretreatments can create some amazing effects when paired with the Rubio.

Pete's Hardwood Floor Helpline red button

Get a one-on-one phone consultation with a hardwood flooring expert.

For a small fee of $25, we can provide the wisdom and knowledge that you need to complete your hardwood flooring project.

When you don’t know what you need to do next, that’s when it’s time to call Pete’s Hardwood Floors Help Hotline.

An actual flooring contractor will answer all of your questions!

We have a crack staff with a range of specialties, from carpentry through floor machine maintenance, and we can troubleshoot just about any hardwood flooring mystery thrown our way.

If you are stuck or struggling with your hardwood floor project, one call could save you hours in the long run.