Some of the test samples in our hardwood finish contest. Thank you to Rick Woodland of Terrene Sustainable Building Supply for creating the samples.
Today, I am pleased to announce the winner of our Hardwood Floor Finish Contest. See earlier post for list of contenders and criteria details. Still pending is the Painted Floor Finish portion of the contest (update below), so check back for those results soon.
For the Antique Heart Pine Reclaimed Flooring on the first floor of THE CONCORD GREEN HEALTHY HOME, we will be using the Bona Kemi Floor Finish System: Bonaseal undercoat, topped with Bona Traffic in Satin finish.
In our testing, we found that Bonaseal undercoat effectively seals in allergy-triggers (terpenes and aroma from the pine), while topcoat Bona Traffic provides a durable and low sheen finish that enhances the gorgeous vertical grain and color of the antique heart pine. While not completely devoid of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), the cure rate is extremely fast and the product is well-tolerated by individuals with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). Of course, each person is different and therefore it is always important to test for yourself before making a final product selection. Bona does offer a lower VOC variation of Traffic, called Eon 70, but there is some trade-off in durability, which may mean refinishing is required sooner.
A close runner up was the low-VOC, recycled whey-based Vermont Natural Coatings, which performed equally well in sealing the wood, and has a gorgeous matte sheen. The only edge held by Bona was that the future occupants of the home have tolerated Bona Traffic well, and have no history with Vermont Natural Coatings. This is important to consider when one acknowledges that a small sample can never replicate the impact of a product when applied to an entire floor.
Lastly, if sealing in wood allergens / terpenes had not been required, the hands-down winner would have been newcomer Rubio Monocoat. Non-toxic, this product only requires one coat to protect the wood, the finish is subtle and stunning, and you never need to resand. Simply reapply to worn areas, and the Monocoat only adheres to exposed wood... no buildup. I predict that this product is poised for explosive growth.
Painted Floor Update
See earlier post Painted Floors - Have Some Fun! for background.
The undersides of the oak flooring will be painted with AFM Safecoat Zero VOC Flat Paint to seal in oak terpenes. Safecoat narrowly edged out non-toxic Mythic Primer based on somewhat better coverage. As a sidenote, we are using the Safecoat Flat Paint as a primer on all of the walls and trim in the house as well, with Mythic Flat and Semi-gloss Paints as topcoats. The semi-gloss is nice and subtle, almost comparable to a Satin or Pearl sheen in other lines of paint.
The painted floor surface coat is still outstanding. Front runner ECOS Non-toxic Floor Paint from the UK got held up in US Customs, even though it is technically a non-hazardous material. Hoping to get the matchpot today. The back up option is Ivy Coatings Low VOC Floor Plus, which has approximatly 100 g/l of VOCs. While readily available here in the US (ECOS opens its first US facility in Spring 2010), I would much rather use a 100% No-VOC product in the bedrooms, if we can get the shipping straightened out in time. Fingers crossed.
UPDATE: We have added Farrow and Ball Eco Floor Paint to our testing. Rated Zero VOC by US Standards, but containing just 53 g/l VOCs by British standards, it requires one coat of Farrow & Ball's Stain Block Primer (2 g/l VOC) and two topcoats. Stay tuned.