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irishgem@ymail. 06-30-2009 06:10 PM

Hardwood Floors - how hard it is? non-voc products?
Hi, I'm 30 years old trying to fix up a 30 year old hardwood floor that's in pretty good condition (indoors).

I can't figure out what the exact steps are.. I know that I need to strip the hardwood floors. How hard is this to do?. I went to Home Depot but the man in the flooring area didn't help much. Is it easy to stain the floor?

Also, I am sensitive to chemicals and I was wondering if anyone on here has worked with non-VOC stains.. I have found a few but they all seem to be available by order only, Bioshield, Safecoat, Monocoat, etc.. None of these are available in any stores near me (and I'm in Los Angeles).

Even if I don't end up doing the floor myself, which I really want to TRY and do, I still need to be careful about which products to use. Does anyone have any suggestions? Again, Home Imporvement didn't have much of a selection.

Bob Mariani 06-30-2009 07:24 PM

the floors are stripped by sanding them. The stores you mentioned will rent you the sanders. The type with three orbital heads is very DIY friendly and you can do it yourself. Any stain and poly sold in LA is low VOC by state law. They may not know this, since it is all they sell and may not even realize that is what they have. Sand the floors. Vacuum well. Apply stain with a brush. Wipe with a cotton cloth. let sit 24 hours. Stain again if you want it darker. (stain is optional) Apply a sealer. Sand lightly. wipe clean and vacuum. Apply two or three coats of poly with a foam pad applicator.

irishgem@ymail. 06-30-2009 07:47 PM

Thank you!

I am still looking into doing this myself, however... I contacted a man today who works out of his house.. He said, like you, that a stain is not nessary unless you want to change the color of the wood. Is this correct?

Right now the wood in the house is oak and we want to keep it the same color.. So, can we get away with not staining it?

Also.... I went to a paint store the other day who said that "Water-based" sealers are good if I am chemically sensative, but the guy today that came out said Oil Based sealers are better and last longer.

Which is better to use?

Bob Mariani 07-01-2009 05:30 AM

water based is all you are allowed to use in CA. Oil is better since it has 50 years of science behind it for improvements and water only as 15 or so. But water based is fine. Use very thin coats and use at least three top coats. For the oak floors you will not need to use any stain. Just sand, clean seal and top coat.

irishgem@ymail. 07-01-2009 09:46 AM

Thanks! Because of my chemical sensitivity, I may need to order a product to use. The ones at home depot are just awful smelling.

Has anyone heard of Monocoat? ( It claims to have been around 45 years, all Natural Oil based. It has ZERO voc.

Here is the thing I worry about, they CLAIM that I would only need ONE layer. Here is what it says on their website:

"All the colors of Monocoat Natural Oil Finish produce a complete, extremely durable one-coat finish for wood floors. Monocoat contains no volatile organic compounds (VOC), nor does it contain other harmful chemicals.

1 liter of Monocoat Natural Oil can cover an average of 400 sq. ft. of floor with one application.


3 gallons (11.4 liters) of Conventional Finishes and three applications are needed to achieve the same result."

irishgem@ymail. 07-01-2009 02:33 PM

I have a question for those who do their own hardwood floors.. When sanding and sealing, what do you do with large furniture? Do you work on one room at a time?

Bob Mariani 07-01-2009 04:29 PM

Depends on the areas I work on. In any case the room needs to be cleared. Any built-ins are sealed off with plastic. The dust will go everywhere. Proper exhaust is required. If doing many rooms I have the client rent a storage trailer and we clear the entire floor of everything to avoid dust contamination. (larger high end jobs)

kevinlamm 02-11-2010 03:45 PM

Did you use Monocoat?
I saw you were considering Monocoat for your floor job.
Is that what you ended up with?
If so, how did you like it?
Do you still think so?

My brother used it and recommends it. No smell. No VOC. One coat.

Not that I don't trust my brother...he's a good one. But, I'd like to hear more.

He used the clear, without a color. I'm considering a color.


user1007 02-12-2010 05:00 AM

I will stay out of the fray about what materials to use for refinishing the floor other than to say there are a lot of nice, new materials out there with low VOCs. Some of the new nano-tech finishes sound amazing but I haven't tried them.

I usually sub out floor refinishing. To be honest, by the time I rent the equipment, buy all the abrasives, buy all the stain and finishes? I cannot justify charging my clients what I need to if I do the work. Check around and get some estimates. The good ones may have a waiting list so be prepared for that possibility.

I agree the orbital type floor sanders are fairly DIY friendly and they get close to the edges too. Just use successive sandpapers from the coarsest to the finest for your project. Price the abrasives and tool rental ahead of time to make sure it makes sense to DIY.

Pull your baseboards off if you can so they are not in your way and so you can get all the way to the walls.

If you really need to sand deeply? There is still nothing that beats a drum sander. They are not for the faint of heart and you can chew through a floor board in about 30 seconds if you are not paying attention.

As for staining? You do not have to but I would hold that decision until you see what the sanded floors look like. You may need something to blend in any staining or discoloration that has happened over 30 years.

Finally, if you are sensitive to chemicals and things be sure and invest in protective clothing (you can get nice tyvec jumpsuits you can just toss when done) and masks, or better yet, a quality aspirator when doing this! Block off the room so the dust does not get to the air intake for the furnace if you have that type of system. Or turn the furnace off for a time if you can. Replace the filters when the dust---and there will be tons of it everywhere even if the sander has an extraction system---settles.

Get a good shop vac and fit it with a drywall bag or filter. Buy tack cloths to get what the vacuum does not.

AmericanDesign 05-21-2010 03:42 PM

Monocoat will ship samples to you to test. It is waterbased and is a great product.

boydex 06-26-2011 05:52 PM

The Mono coat refered to is oil, though it is applied with a buffer or by hand and then excess removed, unlike waterbased coatings that are applied and left to dry.
The new version is a 2 pack so it dries a little quicker.
It looks nice on the samples ive seen, although isnt as wear resistant as the 2 pack waterbased coatings.
The monocoat will def. draw out more colour in the oak than water based.

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