Have You Seen the Light?

Have You Seen the Light?

Onsite, UV-cured hardwood floor finishes are starting to beam

BulldogWe talk a lot about low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) floor finishes, and the scientific advancements that have produced less-toxic polyurethanes and natural oil floor coatings.  But the truth is that our search for the perfect people-and planet friendly option continues daily.

“Water-based” and “waterborne” now are second only to “low-VOC” on the list of buzzwords that put our minds at ease. But when you consider that zero-VOC paints are readily available, the VOC content in floor coatings can seem high, in addition to other chemicals that some formulas use.

This reality has made the ultra-violent curing machine the latest proven weapon in our arsenal of remedies for unhealthful indoor air. It stops chemical emissions by instantly curing the finish that would ordinarily take days to weeks to completely dry and stop off-gassing. In addition, waterborne polyurethanes with VOC content as low as 17 grams per liter are now available.

Schumacher Reclaimed White PineIn addition to halting chemical emissions from the floor, UV-curing also makes the floor ready for traffic and furniture as soon as we are done using it to cure the finish, and by all accounts, this process is virtually odor-free.

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) limits for VOC-emissions from clear finishes are 275 grams per liter for polyurethane, and 250 grams per liter stains.

When our associates began using the UV-curing system over a year ago, the VOC content of basecoat they used was less than 225 grams per liter; the waterborne top coat, was less than 180 grams of VOCs per liter. To further reduce emissions and provide an even better looking finish, some have switched to a ceramic-fortified waterborne finish with a VOC content of only 17 grams per liter.

In addition to halting emissions, UV-curing creates a stronger finish, like products cured at the factory that can be more impervious to abrasion. In addition, re-coating may not be needed for 10 or more years, versus 5 to 7.

The absence of chemical odors is the main thing customers choosing this system are happy about. But they also like the fact that they can immediately use the floor, put furniture and rugs down without worry, and this has been a big plus for general contractors who are working on tight deadlines.©

Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com

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