Bona Australia

Bona Australia

Official Australian Bona Distributor

Solvent vs Water-based Floor Finishes

Choosing a non-toxic water-based timber floor finish protects you & your family’s health.

It is a consumer’s choice to either use a solvent, or a water-based floor finish. Solvent-based timber floor coatings are toxic, carry serious health risks and are harmful to the environment. In Europe, solvent based finishes are illegal as they are classified as poisons and are dangerous not only to those who apply the coatings, but also home owners and other ‘passive’ users who come into contact with these products.

Bona Sweden pioneered the development of water-based floor finishes in 1979 and is the recognised world leader in non-toxic water-based coatings for timber floors. Read the below to make an informed choice before choosing your floor finish.

What are the health risks of solvent-based finishes?

Some of the serious health effects from short and long-term exposure to solvents include:

  • • Chronic and Acute Asthma
  • • Memory Loss, Brain Damage
  • • Clinical Depression, Aggressive Behaviour
  • • Impaired Fertility, Birth Defects, Neurocognitive Development
  • • Sleep Apnea
  • • Peripheral Nerve Conditions
  • • Increased Susceptibility to Cancers
What is a solvent-based finish?
Solvent-based polyurethane finishes were the standard choice for coating timber floors back in the 1950’s. The technology is based on chemical formulas which use solvents as the carriers for the polyurethane. Solvent finishes are now classified as poisons posing serious health risks. Water-based finishes are now accepted as superior and pose no health threats.
What is a water-based finish?
Water-based floor finishes use water as the carrier for polyurethane dispersion. They are classified as non-toxic, produce no toxic fumes and contain no harmful chemicals. The technology of water-based finishes provides equal or better wear resistance to solvent-based and better retains the natural colour of timber. The amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which are emitted as gases during the curing process of the coating. VOC gases are toxic and flammable. Solvent coatings release high levels of VOC’s posing serious health risks, with off-gassing continuing up to months after application. Water-based finishes emit such a low level of VOC’s they are considered harmless.
What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) are they dangerous?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are the gases emitted during the curing process of the floor coating. VOC gases are toxic and highly flammable. Solvent coatings release high levels of VOC’s posing serious health risks, with off-gassing continuing up to months after application. Water-based finishes emit such a low level of VOC’s they are considered harmless. Most Bona finishes are below 80 grams per litre (g/Lt) VOC and none exceed 90g/Lt, well below the strict EU standard of 140g/Lt. Solvent finishes contain toxic VOC’s of between 300-850g/Lt.
What are the regulations for use in Australia?
Regulations in Europe now ban the use of Solvent based timber floor finishes. The European Union (EU) strictly controls VOC levels in building supplies, and hence solvent based finishes are illegal to use. In Australia however, there is no such legislation in place. Solvents can still be used by contractors with no health warnings required to protect or warn home owners. Consumers need to be well informed when choosing a floor coating to make a choice which protects the health of themselves and their families.
Which type of finish wears better?
The technology of water-based finishes provides equal or better wear resistance to solvent-based and better retains the natural colour of timber, with no toxic fumes or health risks.

SOLVENT-BASED SOLVENT-BASED

SOLVENT-BASED

  • 300-850g/Lt VOC
  • Solvent-based polyurethane
  • Toxic hazardous chemicals & Isocyanates
  • Classified as a poison

SOLVENT-BASED

  • Toxic fumes and Isocyanates
  • Asthma, Headaches, Nausea, Respiratory irritation
  • Impaired fertility, Nervous System Disorders, Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue
  • Contaminates foodstuffs in fridge & pantry
  • Requires toxic chemicals for clean-up
  • Home owners should vacate home for up to 14 days due to toxic fumes off-gassing

SOLVENT-BASED

  • Plastic unnatural appearance
  • Yellows
  • Old technology, Designed for yesterday

WATER-BASED WATER-BASED

WATER-BASED

  • 40-90g/Lt VOC
  • Water-based polyurethane
  • No hazardous chemicals
  • No health risk

WATER-BASED

  • No toxic fumes
  • GreenGuard Gold Certified
  • No effect on fresh or stored foods
  • Easy clean-up in water
  • No need to vacate premises, Home owner can remain throughout application

WATER-BASED

  • Beautiful, natural looking finish
  • Non-yellowing
  • Hard-wearing protection proven on millions of square metres