Refinishing Hardwood Floors
Floor finishing and refinishing is a highly skilled occupation. It is also a trade in which caveat emptor i.e. “let the buyer beware” is a very real admonition. A true craftsman can make magic happen. Anything less can be a horror story. It takes one and a half to two years to train a craftsman. It is very hard work and a highly meticulous profession. Most people do not have the temperament to do the work properly.
If you are in the market, it is up to you to investigate the contractor. Anybody with a sander can say he or she is in the business. Call and ask for recommendations. I know a good many ladies who have done a bang up job brightening or renewing their hardwood floors. A good finisher/re-finisher has top of the line tools and beautifully maintained equipment. Anything less and you are talking to the wrong guy.
Types of Finishes.
Oil Based Polyurethanes:
Oil Based Polyurethane finishes were the standard of the industry for many years. They provide a very strong but brittle, hued finish. They do not film build well and release distinctive “paint fumes” into the air during the first 3 or 4 hours of drying time. Although dry enough to be touched within 4-6 hours, you usually have to wait overnight to re-coat.
VOC Water Based Finishes:
The newest surface finishes are water born VOC urethane and/or acrylic combinations. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. VOC Compliant Finishes, often called VOC finishes, conform to strict new air quality regulations and release little to no potentially harmful solvent compounds into the air during drying. VOC finishes are very thin and three - four coats are required to create the necessary film build. Their need for multi-coats is offset by the fact that drying time is very short and new coats can be applied every one and a half to two hours.
VOC Water-based finishes will still create an odor that may prevent you from staying in the house while its drying. For more information on water base, check out the special section.