Low odor stains and finishes
Hello all! I've been reading lots of forum posts here, and really appreciate everyone's insight and experience.
We've been researching adding hardwood floors to our 1975 house for the last 18 months. We will start with about 1400sf upstairs and on the staircase, and then someday, we'd like to do the downstairs. Upstairs is currently carpet over concrete (likely acoustical, it's about an inch and a half thick - I know because we had a gas leak that necessitated a nearly whole-house re-pipe and we had to cut part of the floor away in one room). We've got a few challenges we are dealing with, including:
Low ceiling height of 7' 6".
Linoleum/vinyl tiles in a 600sf bonus room
After lots and lots of research, we plan to purchase an unfinished engineered hardwood and install them ourselves using Elastilon underlayment. We like that the engineered is thinner product and won't necessitate building up the subfloor, the Elastilon won't damage the concrete in case we ever want to change it out or take it up, we can lay it ourselves (we are on a major budget, especially after our gas re-pipe hit last year), and we can site finish it, which is the only "look" I have found that I really want. We came from a 1960 ranch with 50 year old site-finished, hand-scraped, stained and waxed floors and I loved them. I would like to get as close to replicating them as I can, but in the interest of finishing this DIY sometime this decade, I plan to skip the hand-scraping.
I am now searching for low odor stain and finish option. When we had our old house's floors refinished, I was terribly sensitive to the chemicals used and ended up falling very ill and having to sleep on my Dad's couch for something like 10 days. This began with the staining process and I didn't go back into the house until it was all over and we could move furniture back in. I don't know if the waxing was very smelly, but the staining was. I planned to use a poly finish this time, simply because we were not very diligent about buffing the wax floors so what was the point, but if it is possible for a DIYer to wax, I'm open to that, too, if it will be a durable and low-odor choice.
Does anyone have a recommendation for low/no-odor options for us to stain and finish our floors? Since it's likely to be a slower process than having a contractor do the work, moving out for the entire time is not feasible. I do have a jar of the dark colored custom stain we had on our old floors that I would like to have color-matched once we decide on the products.
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!