Posted on: 26.07.2022 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Before you start staining your hardwood floors, it’s important to understand some key facts about the fumes from floor stains. The strong, volatile fumes from the organic compounds found in toluene, formaldehyde, and other solvents can make you very sick.

The fumes from floor stains are toxic. They can cause flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, and excruciating headaches. While the harmful fumes will eventually dissipate, prolonged inhalation can lead to long-lasting health issues. Be sure to open all windows to allow the fumes from the floor stains to escape.

Proper preparation for the fumes from floor stains helps minimize the odor. This article covers 5 important facts you should know about the fumes from floor stains and how to protect yourself.

5 Important Facts You Should Know About Floor Stain Fumes

If you’re buying a new home or looking to update the current one, chances are floor refinishing is in your future. Before you refinish or recoat the floor, it’s important to make some preparations. The good news is, you’ll get a new floor and you can also protect yourself from the fumes.

1. Essential ingredients produce toxic fumes

Aside from the harsh odor that can cause nausea, there are compounds in floor stain that can be toxic. When the floor stain is applied to the floor, these fumes rise into the air and make the environment smell terrible.

Unfortunately, the same compounds in floor stain that leave a beautiful floor surface can also generate toxic fumes when inhaled over time. Here are those compounds:

  • Petroleum: Petroleum is an oil similar in consistency to motor oil. This oil acts as a solvent to allow the floor stain to penetrate and soak into the wood. When the oil penetrates the wood, it leaves a rich color that is pleasing to the eye. This penetrating oil is durable and looks natural, only needing occasional reoiling to enhance the color tone.
  • Alcohol: Although alcohol may not seem intuitive in floor stain since alcohol alone can damage the floor, the alcohol in floor stain opens up the pores of the wood to allow the stain to penetrate. This porosity is important for the stain to soak into the wood, rather than sit on top of the wood.
  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a colorless gas present in floor stains. It is a binder that helps the stain adhere to the wood floor. Recent testing has shown that the formaldehyde content in floor stains and other wood-based flooring does not reach hazardous levels.
  • Sodium hydroxide: Sodium hydroxide removes the current stain layer from the wood floor. It acts as a bleach to remove surface stains.
  • Glycol ether: Glycol ether is a carrier that keeps the floor stain in liquid form until you apply it. Then, the glycol ether evaporates, leaving only the color behind.
2. Some floor stain fumes can last up to 5 days

The fumes from floor stain can last between twenty-four to seventy-two hours, depending on the type of solvent in oil-based floor stain. An oil-based floor stain has fumes that can last up to five days due to the strong solvent, while a water-based floor stain has almost no fumes.

The fumes from a water-based floor stain will evaporate within 24 hours. Most water-based floor stains do not contain organic compounds that generate toxic fumes. However, a water-based floor stain does not last as long as an oil-based one and deteriorates more quickly under foot traffic.

3. Side effects of inhaling floor stain fumes increase over time

The side effects of inhaling fumes from floor stains depend on how long you inhale them. Another factor in how the fumes from floor stains affect you depends on your sensitivity. Some people feel sick immediately, while others can tolerate the fumes for a longer period.

Common side effects of fumes from floor stains include:

  • Headaches frequently occur after smelling fumes from floor stains. Some people experience mild headaches, while others trigger migraine headaches.
  • Nausea is another common side effect in the presence of stain fumes.
  • Respiratory issues occur when you repeatedly inhale fumes from floor stains. The volatile organic compounds irritate the eyes, nose, and mouth, and worsen asthma.
  • Dizziness accompanies nausea and can lead to fainting spells.

Extended exposure to wood stain fumes can cause blurred vision, burning in the nose, eyes, and throat, and fainting.

4. Protection is necessary when using floor stains

Protecting yourself when in the vicinity of floor stain fumes is important to prevent respiratory irritation, nausea, and headaches. Planning to wear protective gear and take other preventive measures helps reduce or eliminate the fumes. Here are the steps:

  1. Open all doors and windows when using the floor stain. Cross-ventilation helps to remove the fumes from the house.
  2. Place a fan facing out the back door of your house. Set up a second fan at the back door of your house to enhance the movement of fumes outside.
  3. Wear goggles to keep fumes away from your eyes.
  4. Wear nitrile gloves to protect the skin of your hands.

This YouTube video describes the precautions for using floor stains:

5. You should wait 4 days to stay indoors after staining a floor

The ideal time to wait before staying indoors after staining a floor is four days after the final staining of the floor. This allows the floor to dry and the fumes to dissipate, eliminating any risk of health effects. Humid weather can affect drying time, so consider this when planning.


Fumes from floor stains can cause nausea due to the volatile organic compounds they emit. These compounds can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and respiratory irritation. Prolonged contact can lead to fainting and long-term health damage.

You can protect yourself from these side effects by opening windows and doors for cross-ventilation. Wearing protective gear for eyes, nose, mouth, and hands also minimizes the impact of fumes from floor stains.

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