Q: After we moved in to our home, we noted that our “nice” wood floors began to flake clear/yellow thin layers. I assume the previous owners put polyurethane over wax. We are looking into redoing them. In the meantime, we have a crawling child that gets these flakes on his hands and puts them in his mouth. Is there a toxic potential here?
A: I would err on the side of caution and say there is a toxic potential in eating flakes of floor finish. We have no idea what the finish is, nor what may have been used to “clean” the floors after the last coat was applied. There could be all kinds of things on this film walked in from the street including feces, let alone what may be part of the film itself. It is my understanding that even floor finishes up until about the mid ’70’s still contained lead. That likely is not a problem here, except you don’t know what is beneath this finish either. It is really best your child does not eat things off the floor in my opinion.
Related Q: I moved into this apartment less than 2 months ago to a new coat of finish on the floors. The guys who refinished did a bad job. I believe they put oil on water or didn’t sand or something, because it is peeling off everywhere. My landlord is being very stubborn about coming back to fix it. The flakes are on my furniture and my dog. Do these flakes pose a health issue?
A: I don’t think the flakes are a hazard because now the solvents have left the film. I still wouldn’t eat it. I don’t know what would happen if this finish came in contact with stomach acid. Clearly this job is a failure. To fix it, it would have to be sanded to bare wood and finished again.