GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

What green product that stands up to high foot traffic can be used for refinishing wood floors in a health club?

Harsdesigns | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I belong to a health club where they are refinishing the wood floors in the racquetball courts and the room where they hold fitness classes. They have refinished one court and the off gassing from the polyurethane was nauseating. The smell lasted for days. I asked if they could use something else and the owner said that nothing else stands up to the high foot traffic. They are redoing the floors July 1st. Do you know of any green product that is used for gym floors?

They will also be re-doing the sauna. What green products would be good for that?

Thank you,

Maria JK Hars

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Riversong | | #1

    Prior to synthetic urethane varnishes, the standard wood floor treatment was wax. A polished waxed floor may require more refinishing than a film-coated one - but the refinishing requires no sanding, just re-application and buffing.

    Another alternative is water-based urethane, which requires more coats but drys much faster than solvent-based urethane and has very low odor.

    See for comparisons.

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #2

    Another option, once even more common than wax, is shellac. It's natural, durable, and even edible. It does not hold up well to alcohol though, so you would need to be careful what cleaners and disinfectants are used. Be careful to find a dewaxed shellac; even better, buy flakes and mix your own (with denatured alcohol).

    You could also use a polymerizing penetrating oil such as boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or danish oil. They do not create a film, but harden within the wood pores. They can be touched up as needed without recoating. You can see an example of red birch with a tung oil finish here: The polymerizing oils do contain heavy metal drying agents so they are not as innocuous as shellac or wax, and they do have a fairly strong but not entirely unpleasant odor for a couple of weeks. They are easy to use though.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |