The Least Toxic Wood Floor Finishes


I am interested then in finding the least toxic finish as I am a doctor and have seen too many occupational exposures to wood dust, solvents etc. If a polyurethane is the way to go what is the best one so to speak in North America and what may be its equivalent out in Australia. Your advice would be thoroughly appreciated.



Dear Stewart

I became a lot more concerned about these chemicals when I discovered I had Hairy Cell Leukemia. But it will take at least 20 years or more to die from this chronic ailment, so I’ve got lots of time to rail against toxic finishes masquerading as safe.

The finish I am now using is the Fabulon brand ( 905-871-2724) heavy duty polyurethane. And I apply one thin coat and two heavy coats. Scuff sanding and cleaning between coats. You will need a day or two dry between coats in hot humid weather. But in very dry conditions it set up quickly. It has a solvent content of about 55%.

Look at the health and safety sheets that are supplied with the product. The least toxic petroleum based solvent is the aliphatic hydrocarbon 64742-88-7. This is our equivalent to odorless mineral spirits. You should see this in the highest amount. It makes the finish dry more slowly, but the xylene, benzene and toluene have been extracted from it. The number at the end of the chemical name is it’s universal CAS, and all chemists around the world use this system to identify these chemicals more accurately.

Or try the Dura Seal 1000 water base finish, read my article about this in the Floored News. It is quite a bit safer, but is so new as to be unproven for heavy duty floor use.

But the safest but longest drying finish would be the Tried and True oil/varnish, take a serious look at this finish, I mentioned it in the last email. You can mail order this finish from

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.