Applying polyurethane (low-VOC)

 Some of us do and the others don’t know that since the 1st of July, 2009 there are new polyurethane rules. Basically, you cannot buy high VOC polyurethane in gallons, or five gallon cans. The only way to purchase it is if you will buy the poly in quarts(kinda stupid, isn’t it?).

“So what?”-some of you will ask-“I don’t even know what the hell is high VOC poly anyway”

For those of you, who doesn’t know that: high VOC polyurethane, is the oil-based type, that have been used by everybody to coat the floor for decades.Yes, it does smell, but at least you were able to apply it seamlessly and it dried within the reasonable time (overnight).

What we have now, that looks the same as the old stuff, is low VOC poly, which is a total disaster.It leaves the brush marks and dries for days, or in some cases- weeks. If you don’t want to end up with the project that will need to be done all over again, you should avoid the low VOC polyurethane.

Remeber: the good stuff is in quarts now. If you want an oil based poly on your floors, buy that.Your other option is water-based, which a lot of people started to use now for their floor refinishing projects.

Avoid buying oil-based poly in gallons, and don’t forget to ask the assosiate in the store what kind of stuff is it.

In case you bought low_VOC polyurethane, here are some things that you should know.

1.You only need 2 coats to finish this project (altough these coats will dry forever).

2.This poly is thick and dries very quick on the surface, so avoid applying it in the large areas: do a little bit at a time.

3. The best way to apply it is with the applicator: lambs wool or Padco Nyfloam Coater Refill (you will never find this type in the Home Depot or Lowe’s, so look somewhere else) are the best. That way you won’t leave the brushmarks.

4.Before you will move the furniture back in the room, make sure the floor is totally dry: with low VOC poly it might look dry, but when you will rub your finger on the floor, you’ll feel how gummy the poly is.If this happens- wait longer.

5.You actually can apply high VOC poly over the low VOC- nothing bad is going to happen: trust me, we tried it.

Now about the brands: there is no such a thing as a good low-VOC poly: it’s all terrible, so if you decided to buy some, choose any brand and good luck with application.

If you happen to have any questions about this type of poly, feel free to contact us.

4 Responses to Applying polyurethane (low-VOC)

  • Zita cleans says:

    Thanks for that vital bit of info re high and low voc urethane.

  • Rob Rodesky says:

    I recently started restoring furniture ,antiques etc.and just bout a hvlp sprayer, I’ve been brushing for years and not been real happy with my results. Using mostly minwax poly, so, I just finish striping a chestnut table top and leaves,sand down to bare wood, stain, and sprayed minwax fast drying for floors thinking that I wanted a hard finish for the top it’s a satin finish its a vary thin finish, took my time between coats a day between so far it looks flawless and I m, picky. But now I read ur comment on the low voc, really not knowing the difference , do you think it will hold up or should I finish coat with the 550, I plan on 4 to 5 coats to get the build up. Would like to know what you think, thanks.

  • AJ says:

    I applied 2 coats of fast drying min wax semi gloss poly. Not very happy. It’s OK, but I’d like to finish with a 550 vocals product like Duraseal after I screen the floors. No issues with 550 voc over 350 right?

  • admin says:

    Sure. Not a problem. Sorry, your comment ended up in the junk inbox somehow.

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