Environmentally Friendly Furniture and Floor Finishes
It’s funny how things have come full circle over the years. After decades of “New” and “Improved”, we’re retreating back to the products our grandparents used to keep their furniture and floors looking new. Not only are these products effective, but they’re natural, without all the chemical enhancements added to create a lemony scent or prevent waxy buildup.
Following are some of the favorites finishes that are not only time tested, but extremely green.
Linseed Oil. Flax seed is not only good for you, but wood also. The oil from flaxseed is known as linseed oil, and it’s terrific for keeping floors and furniture looking like new. Now, raw linseed oil is very slow to dry and can take days, if not weeks, to dry. The most eco-friendly version of linseed oil is polymerized. That means the oil has been processed so it has been turned into a solid form.
Linseed oil will seep into the pores of the wood and gives it a hand rubbed look. The finish is a satin patina, not a high gloss, so it not only preserves the wood, but also looks natural. However, it is not waterproof and won’t protect against staining, scratches or water vapor. Because of this, it’s best for furnishings that don’t get a lot of wear and tear.
Natural Oils. Natural oils are often combined with each other or with other natural ingredients to make new finishes that are extremely green. For example, varnish oil is a combination of linseed oil that has been highly polymerized and a natural resin. As you apply each application, the finish becomes more scratch resistant and durable, so it’s a great choice for furniture. Linseed oil when combined with castor stand oil is another great choice if you want to go “oil natural.” You can also use natural finishing oils as a sealer or primer for wood and cork.
Resin. Natural and extremely resilient, resin is perfect for floors of all kinds, including wood, stone, brick and even cork. It offers a durable, glossy finish if you use it with a primer. Plus, you can get finishes in a number of hues, from clear to a light amber, depending on the type of resin used. One or two coats will usually be all that’s needed, unless the surface is very porous.
Wax. No, we’re not talking about commercial waxes that use ingredients that aren’t environmentally friendly. We’re talking about products that use a combination of beeswax and plant wax, natural substances that are very green and renewable. These waxes are easy to apply, fast drying and work well on nearly any wood surface, whether it’s antique furniture or a floor.
No matter which finishing product you use, be it linseed oil, natural oil compounds, resin or wax, you’ll know that you’re not only applying a finish that will restore and protect your wood, but protect the environment at the same time. Professional craftsmen have known this for generations. And so did your grandparents. It’s one lesson learned that can help us create a better environment for future generations while keeping our furniture looking like new.