Natural Wood Flooring Finish Option

We’ve been using PolyWhey Natural Wood Finish from Vermont Natural Coatings for a lot of our salvaged floors and we are very happy with their product.

First of all you can apply it in a closed room without barely any smell. It is really low VOC and the VOC that is present is not noxious at all. As the name applies it has whey in it, a creative use of the extra whey from all the cheese manufacturers in Vermont.

Here we are applying it to an old beat up floor that we salvaged and sanded down.


Here is how it looks when dry:


Brooklyn is full of great wood to be salvaged. Vermont Natural Coatings Polywhey is a good natural wood floor option because it really adds to the natural feel of the salvaged wood. If it is a green renovation of a Brooklyn brownstone where you are salvaging subfloors or old floors then the Polywhey brings out the character of the wood in a really good whey, uh, I mean way.

Another thing we like to do with the Polywhey is to first cover the floor with tung oil, which seeps deep into the wood. Once the tung oil is dry about a day later we then put the Polywhey over it as a top coat on the wood. This provides a great combo for a natural wood finish. You have the deep penetration and the hard protective cover happening at the same time.

Here are some salvaged southern pine we cut into planks and turned into stairs. We left them unsanded to accentuate the grain in the wood which you can feel when walking barefoot. We love those green building touches where the design brings the person closer to nature, albeit subtle.

To get finish we wanted first we put a couple coats of tung oil and then capped them off with a couple coats of PolyWhey. We used the satin finish but it looks shiny here because the PolyWhey is still wet.


Below are the stairs once dry and after some use. Notice the rich grain and deep colors that held because of the finish. Without the finish after some wear you don’t see the grain or color as intensely any more.


But we only do the tung oil if we have the time. Another practical thing about Polywhey is that it dries in a couple hours. You can put three coats of the stuff on in one day. In New York where small living space is the norm the clients might not be able to stay off the floor for 24 hours. Eight hours might be all they can do. With Polywhey this is not a problem because you can have the whole floor done by the time the owners come home from work.

And when they do come home they won’t have to endure any toxic smells. Sure the finish is just recently applied but that does not mean there is any smell left. It is surprising if you can smell anything at all once it is dry. This is great for people with sensory overload, something common in NY.

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

8 comments to “Natural Wood Flooring Finish Option”

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  1. travbob - January 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Using polywhey as a top coat over tung oil is what I am planning to do with my heart pine floors, but I have read on several forums of people advising against using a water based poly over tung oil. Have you had any problems with the water poly adhering over the tung oil?


  2. Gennaro Brooks-Church - May 29, 2010 at 7:40 am

    or earth paint

  3. Gennaro Brooks-Church - May 29, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Maybe try Land Arc wood finish

  4. Elizabeth - May 29, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Hi –

    I’m wondering if anyone can give me information about some chemicals in floor coatings.

    Polywhey contains the following; Triethylamine at exposure limits of OSHA PEL 10PPM and ACGIH TLV 15PPM with a 54mm Hg vapor pressure. Tripropylene glycol methyl ether at exposure limits of OSHA PEL 50PPM and ACGIH TLV 50PPM with a 0.7mm Hg vapor pressure. Diproptlene glycol butyl ether with a 0.0mm Hg vapor pressure and diproptlene glycol monomethyl ether with a 0.4mm Hg vapor pressure.

    Bona Traffic contains diproptlene glycol monomethyl ether at exposure limits of OSHA PEL 100PPM and ACGIH TLV 100PPM with a 0.55mm Hg vapor pressure and 2,6,8 trimethyl 4 nonylpolyethylene glycol ether with a 0.01mm Hg vapor pressure.

    Which product has safer chemical amounts? If you don’t know, can you direct me to a site that can provide assistance?

    PolyWhey MSDS

    Bona Traffic MSDS


  5. Gennaro Brooks-Church - May 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Yes we thin it with Citrus Solvent.

  6. Maggie - May 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm


    Do you thin the tung oil with anything when you apply it? are you using 100% tung or a different product? We’re choosing to go with the tung oil with the polywhey top coat for our upstairs floors – seems like great stuff.


  7. Gennaro Brooks-Church - October 29, 2009 at 1:25 am

    The stain can go on before or after. I would put it on first. Tung oil does make wood a little darker. The reddish color you see is partly the tung oil and partly the natural color of the wood. I do not know of natural stains although there are things out there. My habit is to show things the way they are. If it is white wood, then show it in its true glory. But that is just me. It stems from builders trying to hide things to make it look like something else.
    But in your case it is more a case of wanting to decorate, which isn’t so much about hiding anything. If that makes sense.

  8. Martha - October 28, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Can the wood be stained before the polywhey is applied? If so, does the stain go on before the tung oil or after? Any recommendations for sustainable stains? I would like to get floors the reddish color shown in your third photo, before the poly dries.

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