Concerns About Swedish Floor Finishes
Refinishing a hardwood floor and selecting a finish can be a designing delight with a range of sheen and even color choices. However, be informed and know that some finishes leave behind more than you bargained.
When it comes time to select your hardwood floor finish, ask for waterborne or a water-based finish which is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly solution. Some contractors may offer you a less expensive option such as acid-cured, conversion varnish or “Swedish” finish. Be wary that while many tout the durability and protection of this type of finish, your home and family will pay by way of poor air quality and chemicals that will remain long after the finishing process.
Facts About Acid-Cured - "Swedish" Finishes
- High Toxicity/VOCs: The biggest concern with Swedish finish is the high level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which will affect air quality in the home. At VOC levels ranging anywhere from 550 to upwards of 700 (compared to less than 150 for waterborne finishes), acid-cured finish contains toxic ingredients like formaldehyde that degrade air quality, can agitate respiratory illnesses and cause problems like nausea, dizziness, headaches, and irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.
- Long Cure Time: Swedish finishes dry fast but can take 60 - 90 days to fully cure. This means that while the floor may not be sticky to the touch (“dry”), the finish continues to off-gas, emitting toxic chemicals into the air while curing. Most contractors recommend leaving rugs off floors for as long as possible until the floor is cured. Anti-slip backing on rugs or carpet will dissolve if the floor is still off-gassing and curing.
- Yellows Over Time: A Swedish finish will change the color of the floor over time. As it ages, acid-cured finish will yellow to an amber patina altering the original color you so carefully selected.
- A Homeowner Hazard: Because of the extremely high levels of toxic fumes and VOCs found in Swedish finishes, homeowners are required to vacate the home during application and for a number of days following while the off-gassing process begins. If any food is left in the house when finishing with Swedish finish products, it must be thrown out. All pets and plants need to be vacated as well. In addition, because of the long cure time, VOC levels in the house may still cause issues after the initial application. Acid-cured finishes also have a low flash point, so pilot lights and other heat sources must be extinguished before application.
Waterborne Finishes: A Safer Alternative for a Heathier Home
Compare the dangers of Swedish finishes to the benefits of waterborne finish, which is just as durable, offers a beautiful, even color tone and is overall safer for your family, plants, and pets. Additionally, waterborne floor finishes provide professionals with a wide range of benefits to safely get the job done with beautiful results on any species of hardwood.
- Low VOC/GREENGUARD Gold Certified. Waterborne finishes have lower VOCs and less odor than acid-cured finishes. Bona waterborne finishes are also GREENGUARD Gold certified, providing the highest quality option for indoor air quality and cleanest finishing process available.
- Driest/Cures Fast. Waterborne finishes for hardwood floors dry and cure much faster than Swedish finishes, taking weeks, or even months off the curing time. In fact, Bona Traffic HD has dry times of two to three hours and a full cure in just three days so you are back in your home quicker. In addition, since waterborne finishes have low VOCs, there is less concern for toxic chemicals in the air during cure time than with acid-cured finish, so your family, home and the environment stay safe.
- Doesn’t Change Wood Color. Waterborne wood floor finishes dry clear and won’t affect the natural color of the wood. For white/very light-colored floors, a waterborne finish is a must!
- More Convenient for Homeowners. Homeowners and their pets, plants and food, can stay put without vacating the home during application of a waterborne finish, offering more ease and convenience during installation and refinishing.
- Durable. Bona’s commercial-grade waterborne finishes, like Bona Traffic HD®, outperform all waterborne competitor finishes in durability tests and are used on hardwood floors in malls, airports, restaurants, bars and other high-traffic commercial spaces worldwide.
If you’re looking for a professional contractor for your floor finish needs, consider a Bona Certified Craftsman®. These professionals are trained in all Bona® floor systems and can give your floors the look you want and the protection you from toxic alternatives. Find a Bona Certified Craftsman near you.