Please Share Your Experience Installing/Finishing Hardwood Floors

sail_awayJuly 1, 2012

We're finally ready to have hardwood floors (white oak) installed in our living room/dining room and have the 20 year old oak floors already installed on the first floor of our house refinished. I'd love to hear how some of you worked out the logistics.

The floor guy initially recommended that we finish all the floors with Glitsa Swedish oil-based finish. He said we have the Swedish oil finish on our old floors, which have held up pretty well. They were installed and finished prior to our moving into the house. I was concerned about the toxic fumes from the Swedish finish, and we had decided to go with a two-component water-based finish. However, now DH has changed his mind and is convinced we should have the Swedish oil-based finish for more durability, as well as a better look. I am very concerned because I have pretty severe asthma and some chemical sensitivities. I'm not sure I'll be able to move back in after just a couple days---possibly not even after a couple weeks---with the Swedish finish. Also, with a Swedish finish we will have to figure out where our two cats can go while the floors are being finished. I'm mostly concerned about my breathing.

What have your expereinces been having floors finished or refinished? How long were you out of the house and how long before you started moving furniture back in? What type of finish did you choose? How happy have you been with it over time?

Have any of you compared water-based finishes to oil-based? Can you tell me how they each look? DH said he read that the water-based (including the two-component water-based) finishes look like wood with a layer of plastic on top, which has a lot to do with his determination to continue with the Swedish oil-based finish. He also believes it will last longer.

Any advice you can give would be appreciated. At this point, DH is pretty determined to go ahead with the Swedish oil-based finish, and I am just scared of how it's going to affect me and for how long.

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We went through pretty much the same situation - our home had red oak flooring in the kitchen/dining area and ten years after we moved in we decided to install the same oak flooring in two adjoining rooms. We had the old floor refinished at the same time the new floors were finished and we decided to use a Swedish (Glitsa) finish, because it had held up well on the old floor. It was a major ordeal to remove all of our furniture (out to the garage), tape up all our kitchen cabinets and seal off the stairwell. We boarded our cats at the vet's office for the week, and headed out of town for four days; when we returned we threw all the windows wide open because the smell was awful. With the windows open it was tolerable, but unfortunately we ended up with the coldest day on record for July and had to go find someplace warm to kill time. I found no problem sleeping that night, with windows open, and after a couple more days (with the windows open) the smell disappeared. We waited a full week from the day the finish had been applied before bringing our furniture back in, just to be safe.

In the end it was all worth the effort - it's been 12 years now and the floors still look great - just a few surface scratches in the dining area where a couple of my dining chairs lost their protective pads. I never wash the floors, preferring to spot clean with Pledge Multi Wipes and doing an occasional deep cleaning (only once or twice a year) with clean rags and mineral spirits in high traffic areas. (Windows open for sure when I do this!) I've tried floor cleaning products and never found one that didn't leave the floor looking dull. (We don't wear shoes indoors so that's a big reason why the floors stay pretty clean.)

I would Google water-based vs. Glitsa to glean more info, especially from folks who use these products. You might also see if there's a paint store in your area who can show you samples of different wood finishes. In our area we have a couple of local shops who offer a variety of wood finishing products and they display a variety of woods with finishes. This might give you a better idea of what a water based finish would look like.

Best of luck! :-)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Carpecattus, Thanks for the description of your experience. My worries are compounded by my respiratory problems. I can have a reaction to lingering odors that others barely notice. We are still trying to decide and have asked our floor guy for samples, but he doesn't seem to have any. He suggested we just wait until the new floor is in and then let him apply some samples to the floor. The problem with that approach is that we need to make plans based on how long we will be out of the house and, frankly, we'd like to have a pretty good idea which way we'll be going so we're not making a rushed, last-minute decision.

Thanks for the suggestion about checking paint stores. I have been trying to find flooring stores with samples, but the only samples they seem to have of finished floors are factory prefinished hardwood and laminates.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:12PM
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