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