America has largely become woke to the facts about the harmful chemicals we come into contact with as we go about our lives. More and more, we’re opting for non-toxic cleaners, chemical-free produce, and antibiotic-free meat and dairy to protect our children’s health and better our own. Sales of organic foods to consumers more than doubled between 1994 and 2014. In 2016, a Pew Research Center survey found that 68 percent of Americans bought organic foods of some sort in the past month. If you’re a part of the growing club of people who are just saying no to toxic chemicals, you’ll want to know about low- and no-VOC hardwood floor re-coat options before you commit to a hardwood flooring contractor.

The Perils of an Oil-Based Hardwood Floor Re-coat

We recently had a customer tell us about a co-worker who had her hardwood floors recoated by the guys who quoted the lowest price. The odor was so strong that she and her family had to move out of the house for nearly a week. It was still pretty bad when they moved back in. The co-worker, who is very health-conscious, felt like it was making her sick. Naturally, our customer was concerned that the same thing would happen to him after we recoated his floors.

Now, clearly, the contractor had used oil-based polyurethane, which has a very strong odor and is fraught with about 500 grams of VOCs per liter. Once an oil-based coating is applied, VOCs off-gas into the air in your home for months or even years afterwards, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Furthermore, to cut costs and maximize profit, the low-price contractor probably used cheap oil-based polyurethane, which is even more noxious. In the short-term, this off-gassing of toxic chemicals can cause dizziness, headaches, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. In the long-term, it can cause respiratory and reproductive problems and liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage. Not to mention, many of the off-gassed chemicals—which include benzene, formaldehyde, toulen, arsenic, and xylene—are known carcinogens.

The Benefits of a Water-Based Hardwood Floor Re-coat

We assured our concerned customer that we only use a high-quality, water-based coating that’s GREENGUARD-certified to have low chemical emissions. Quality, low-odor, water-based coatings only off-gas for a few days as they cure, according to the Green Building Council. They contain far fewer VOCs than oil-based finishes, to the tune of 275 g/l, and they’re better for the environment.

If you like to maintain good air quality in your home, don’t accept an oil-based coating from a hardwood flooring contractor, no matter how superior they tell you it is. (It’s definitely not.) Always request water-based products.

UV Curing: Even Better for your Indoor Air Quality

In the past decade, a revolution has taken place in the hardwood flooring industry: UV curing. UV curing has been used in other industries, like automotive and adhesives, for a long time, and for good reason. The coatings used with UV curing are even lower in VOCs than water-based, air-cured finishes. They’re also far more eco-friendly.

UV curing involves a machine with a UV light that initiates a photochemical reaction to immediately cure the finish. UV-cured coatings contain zero solvents and a VOC level of 30-50 g/l. This means that UV curing produces no odor at all, and it’s extremely durable. With UV curing, you can walk on your floor in shoes within two hours (compared to five days for a water-based coating and a week for oil-based coatings.)

Looking for a Zero-VOC, Eco-Friendly Re-coat? You’re Looking for LED

LED curing is very new in the hardwood flooring industry. In fact, Lifetime Hardwood Floors is the only company in the Omaha area that performs LED curing for hardwood floor re-coat jobs. LED curing is the most environmentally friendly and non-toxic coating there is. The extra expense is well worth the quality, durability, and purity of the finish.

LED curing utilizes LED lights to instantly cure hardwax oil products, which don’t create ozone or emit solvents or VOCs of any kind. Used widely in dentistry, LED curing is the best option for households with small children, beloved pets, or people with allergies or respiratory illnesses. As an added bonus, the LED-cured finish is more resistant to scratches and scuffs than other hardwood floor finishes.

Another major benefit of LED curing is that you can touch up the floor without having to re-coat the whole thing. So if a high-traffic area in your home starts to look dull and dingy, but the rest of the floor still looks great, we can come in and touch up just the heavily trafficked area.

So now you know. If you always do your best to protect your family from toxic chemicals in your everyday environment, contact Lifetime Hardwood Floors next time your hardwood floors need a re-coat. Our commitment to quality and integrity ensures the job is done right, and we have all the options you need for a low- or no-odor, low or no-VOC, and a low- or no-curing time hardwood floor re-coat.