Finishing is often associated with protecting the beauty of the wood, but specifying the proper wood finish can also protect the beauty of the environment. When specifying a wood finish, consider the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the finish formulation. Environmentally-conscious consumer demand has led manufacturers to create low (200 grams per liter) and zero (less than 5 grams per liter) VOC finishes.
How do these low/no VOC finishes hold up? In an interview with Wood Design + Construction, Duo Dickinson (the former host of CNN’s web series Home Work) said, “It has been my experience that the highest-quality water-based finishes are perhaps the best on the market today and usually are lower in VOCs than their non-water-based competitors.”
For heavy-duty use, consider acrylic-impregnated floor finishes. While these are normally not necessary in residential projects, they are common in shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals, and other areas that see heavy foot traffic. These finishes impart coloration that penetrates deep in the wood, creating a hard surface that protects against dirt, moisture, and wear.
Janos Spitzer, owner of Janos P. Spitzer Flooring Company for nearly 50 years, adds that “Waterborne, catalyzed polyurethane floor finish has become ubiquitous throughout the wood flooring industry, owing to its superior performance, ease of use, low VOC emissions, UV shielding, and moderate pricing. Application of other finishes makes up a very small percentage of the projects being undertaken today.”
With both the government and consumers pushing for industries to “Go Green,” using low or no VOC finishes can help you to meet industry regulations and consumer demand.
Speaking of green, what can we do about the perception that a hardwood floor will cost too much “green”? Education and Information! With proper care hardwood floors will last a lifetime. Carpet, vinyl, and laminate floors have to be completely replaced on an average, every eight to ten years. A hardwood floor can be refinished for a fraction of the price of a complete reinstallation of the other flooring choices.
In conclusion, whether you’re trying to help your customers “be” green or “save” green, hardwood specifications are the way to go. By limiting the VOC emissions, and the number of times your customers will have to completely reinstall their flooring, you can make the world a greener place.