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Expert's Corner — odor

Finishes for Wood Floors

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The two key considerations in choosing a wood-floor finish are resistance to scratches and the large surface to be covered. To stand up to abuse, you need a very durable finish, and to avoid filling the room with overspray that will settle and stick to the finish, you need one that dries slowly enough so it can be applied by hand. The two best choices are oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane. Oil-based polyurethane is more durable than water-based, but it has a strong odor that hangs around for several days, and it has a slight orange coloring (usually referred to...

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Minimal Finish Odor

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If you want as little finish smell as possible—for example, on cabinets in a house or office that is occupied, or on the inside of a box or chest—there are two finishes to choose between: water-based finish and shellac. Other finishes, including oils, varnishes and lacquers will require days and maybe longer for all the residual odor to dissipate. There are two major differences between water-based finish and shellac. Water-based finish is more scratch resistant and imparts no coloring to the wood. Shellac will scratch easier and add a warm yellow-orange tone to the wood. Both dry rapidly, so you...

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